Convocation Week: Curtain Raiser Assignment
Prof. M P Ranjan
Image01: DCC Black Board generated through class brainstorming on the key words associated with “What is Design?”
Once again we return to the Foundation batch at NID to conduct another course of the Design Concepts and Concerns and this year we have as many as 90 students in the Foundation year two batches since the NID student intake has once again expanded this year. There is another change in the time table this year to accommodate the Holi festival and we have agreed to have this course in two parts with the first part as a one week module that coincides with the NID Convocation week in early December 2009 and the second part as a four week module that comes after the Holi festival during the month of March 2010. We have therefore changed the sequence of assignments and tried to use the presence of over two hundred NID graduates on campus at Paldi who have all come to participate in the convocation ceremony. This would give the Foundation students an opportunistic occasion to meet them in an assignment format that would help them discover and articulate something more about the fields of design that they themselves would be entering at the end of their Foundation programme at NID.
Image02: Course introduction to teachers, course content and teaching approaches recorded in class and supplemented with images from the class on day one looking at the students in the class. Part one of the session as a YouTube movie based on the voice recordings in the class. Part one.
Learning by doing and learning through team work are the two major pedagogic strategies that the DCC course uses and these journeys are documented visually and these images are made available for future reflection so that learning is a continuous process, like a slow fuse still left burning as the semester progresses. The course teachers, Ranjan, Rashmi, Gayatri and Shashank met together and decided to use the NID Convocation event to place the Foundation students in a context where they could work as a team and find out as much as they could and in an as deeply connected manner as they could the many dimensions of the design disciplines that were offered at NID through an engagement with what they already knew and through meetings with senior students and graduates from the disciplines that they were assigned to study in some depth. The time available was les than a week since the students had still to put up their Convocation display for the Foundation Programme as part of the series of exhibits that were planned across the campus at NID. They therefore had their tasks cut out for them to plan their time and divide their tasks and work as a team to try and first discover the contents of the disciplines and then work together to visualize these into a coherent model that would help them share their collective understanding of the chosen subject with the rest of the class and the teachers at the end of the assignment.
Image03: Part two of the voice recording of the first session before the group brainstorming session supplemented with images from the class, this time looking at the teachers. Part two.
The course started with a round of introductions to the teachers and a morning of discussion on the topic of What is Design? The black board was used to capture brainstorming responses for students and as the black board filled up with words offered by the students the numerous dimensions of design came out in the open, as an external map of what was collectively held in the minds of the class fellows. Some of the words were new for some while others were more or less common for a class of the NID Foundation Programme student who had completed one semester of basic design education that dealt with composition, drawing, colour, geometry and materials – all foundations for a design career – and they had many a discussion with teachers and seniors in their past months at NID, in a rich design learning environmemt. The first part of this discussion is recorded in the two part voice recordings that have been supported by images from the class in the form of a quicktime slide show, however here the black board brainstorming session is yet to follow and at the end of this session the class was divided into six groups, each assigned at random, by pick of lots, to one of the six design disciplines that could be broadly described by the terms listed here: 3D Products, Image and Graphics, Fibres and Textiles, Exhibition and Space, IT and New Media and Motion Picture and Animation.
Image04: Three groups as seen on day one and later after their model building based on their collective exploration of the chosen disciplines of design.
The student teams went into a huddle and prepared themselves for the period of field based interviews with NID graduates with the specific aim of trying to understand the various dimensions of each of the disciplines, their tools, processes, knowledge and skill sets and attitudes and finer sensibilities, that each of these disciplines would need to process in order to work effectively in the space that they usually worked in. This collective process of exploration, brainstorming, articulation and expression bring with it a sense of dep understanding of the subject at hand and the whole process is quite memorable for all the participants, if they have immersed themselves in the process over the limited time period that was available at hand. The week went by very rapidly and at the end we had six very rich presentations that were played out in front of the whole class, and each presentation was recorded in images and voice capture and these were all made available for the students as digital files placed on the DCC2010 server on the NID intranet.
Image05: Three more groups as seen on day one and later after they had completed their group assignment of building models of the chosen disciplines of design.
Prof. M P Ranjan