Chatting with Brad and Dan at the flat tonight, and the issue of teaching design came up.
Dan had a wonderful point – that more and more the designers role is to help identify and navigate different types and themes of information. Although this has always been true to some extent, digital media has made it much more so.
So rather than concentrate purely on the visual/layout (often not really even reading what youre designing), more attention needs to be paid to really understanding the content of ones work.
Dan and I developed a great little teaching excersise for this whilst we were walking around Chinatown later in the evening.
To gain a better understanding of designing with content top-of-mind, divide the class into groups of 3.
Each of them must write a piece of unformatted content (or you could use pieces of random content).
NEXT: They pass their content on to the next designer, who works at defining content types/possible linkages and grouping content according to meaning. They then write a design brief – not with directions such as placement but purely with the cues they have gathered on this content/meaning. This will help the designer articulate their thoughts, and understand what another designer might need to work from.
FINALLY: The 3rd designer actually lays out the piece (be it digital or otherwise) using the content brief.
They would be allowed to ask questions of the students further up the chain, but it would hopefully mean that during this excersise they would start thinking in a more intellegent way about the way they work.