Project Stages

Registration

The creation of a virtual identity, or 'project persona' is a good way to develop awareness, and with awareness comes the opportunity to make good choices. In this case, students imagine themselves as designers doing actual project work, and to help them think as real-life designers, the tasks are presented in the same way designers would face them. The 'application' process with the 'psych' tests and the writing of a vision statement also helps develop self awareness. Online tests are being used increasingly to select applicants for a variety of positions in colleges and workplaces, so here is an opportunity to prepare our students for this real-life event.(See Design Project choices)

Getting the Picture

Visualisation - creating pictures in our heads. Recent brain research confirms imagining something in vivid detail uses exactly the same neural pathway as actually doing it. This discovery of 'mirror neurons' has been a major one, and the implications for a better understanding of the learning process is considerable. Students are able to reproduce their 'image' fluently if they have 'seen' it during a guided imagery exercise.

Making It

Many of the materials and the processes for making the Design Project are new, and will enable students to create quite complex shapes without special equipment. Plastics, for example have completely revolutionised manufacturing over the years, and designers are able to think beyond what were once considered the 'limits'. The processes of making a pattern, forming plastic sheet for either a mould or a product, and casting the product, are each possible using simple equipment developed for general classrooms rather than special workshops.

Modern Finishes

There have been some exciting developments in the world of colour and painted finishes. The notion of applying solid colour has been replaced with one of blending various colours and the results can be quite amazing. For years, the ultimate colour effect - mother of pearl or peacock feathers - was almost impossible to duplicate, but the development of transparent pigments has enabled similar effects to be achieved. Metallic pigments are also transparent, so whatever shading is on the surface can show under the metallic coating. This process can be used to gain a more realistic metallic finish on students' projects.

Digital Images

The Design Projects are fairly involved, and if one had to present the actual project to a review panel, the work could take weeks to complete. The idea is to create maximum effect with minimum of fuss, and one way to do this is by using digital images. Instead of creating the real thing, a small model, or part of a model can be made to look like a full-sized project on location. A single freeway panel, for example, can be photographed, and the image duplicated and arranged in a way that looks like there are lots of them. Similarly, tourist brochures will have images of Bali, a perfect background for the memorial project.

Preparation

The presentation of the image to the review panel is the final stage of the Design Project. It is important that students prepare for the event carefully, because the skills they learn will be useful for a job interview, in the workplace, and lots of other situations relying on their ability to express themselves confidently. Students prepare two images (1) the image (or images) of their project manipulated to look as though it is a real or full size response to the design brief, (2) an image to help them 'get a picture' of what they would look like if they were very successful at this task (called a 'success metaphor').

Understanding Emotions

Emotions are essentially a function of the limbic system - the feeling/pre-conscious as distinct from thinking/rational part of the brain. The recent capacity to examine parts of the brain in more detail, has led to a better understanding of the way the different parts influence what we do. One of the major areas of research is into the limbic system, four small but vital organs that control a lot of the body's systems without us being aware. The limbic system influences the way we feel based on input from our senses - sight, hearing, touch etc - but also based on patterns or a process of 'pattern matching'.

Managing Emotions

Emotion management is about a commitment to: (1)understanding the interplay of language, physiology and beliefs, (2) recognising that changing language or physiology, and we change the emotion, (3) understanding the role of patterns and metaphors in our thinking, (4) being honest with ourselves, (5) recognising and reflecting on all encounters, not just the ones that turn sour, (6) recognising that we won't just 'get' the skills, we arrive at a better level of functioning through practice, establishing an environment of trust and support - companionships, familial, collegiate.

Presentation

The presentation of the Design Projects is a major event - the culmination of a lot of thought, a lot of making, and a lot of preparation. In one teacher's words: "... a watershed, a quantum leap for them, to realise they don't have to be superhuman to be a champion. They have taken on and met a challenge".

Thinking Back

Each of the stages in the project has four questions, with the answers providing an outline of the activity. Asking a question and getting an answer (both metaphorically and literally) gives a sense of completion in our mind. These answers help us feel settled; that what we are involved in has some point to it, and we understand why we are doing it. The capacity to reflect is another aspect to this process - it comes out of questions like "What have I learnt?" "What do I have now that I didn't have before?"

Each of the above stages are repeated for the ICT Student Enterprise Project, with the added benefit of students working with a mentor and client as well as the impetus that earning money for their effort promotes. The C21 Ideas seminar day includes demonstrations and your handbook has instructional material.