Brainstorming Possibilities for Teaching Visual Communication Sensibility across Disciplines

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As educators and researchers trained in design, humanities and social science programs, Dr. Kelly Norris Martin and Kelly Murdoch-Kitt propose a lively, interactive workshop to brainstorm about integrating visual communications literacy into higher education curricula. Our increasingly visual culture—and online culture of user-created content—necessitates a higher level of general visual literacy. Students entering the workforce not only require proficient speaking and writing skills, but more than ever will encounter situations in which they will benefit from visual design sensibility. They will need to communicate effectively with design professionals, and will also be called upon in the professional realm to illustrate their ideas.

Though initial steps toward developing a core curriculum are underway (as presented in a 30-minute paper at this conference), the presenters seek ideas, feedback and input from professional designers, whom they believe should lead the way in planning and executing this revolutionary educational endeavor.

Workshop participants will work in small groups to discuss, sketch, and document plans for integrating visual communications for non-majors into a four-year undergraduate curriculum. Groups will propose solutions for questions such as:
What kind of design vocabulary should non-designers know (especially for communicating with a hired designer)?
What could the design process look like for non-designers?
What kind of resources and references will be most important to include in a visual communications course or text for this group?
What current design concepts and values will be the most important for non-designers to learn?
How can visual communication instruction and “design thinking” methodology be integrated into non-design courses?
How can non-design educators assess the visual communication performance of the students?
The information gathered from the discussion will serve as the foundation for a potential syllabus of a visual communication course or for an integrated visual communication instruction program (within discipline-specific courses) for non-majors.


Keywords: Cross-disciplinary, Visual Communication Literacy, Design Sensibility, Higher Education, Communication across the Curriculum
Stream: Design Policy, Planning and Politics
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Kelly Norris Martin

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY, USA

Kelly Norris Martin is an Assistant Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology whose primary research interests include visual communication, visual research methods, design and digital media. She teaches visual communication and digital design courses to non-designers. Kelly attended North Carolina State University, where she received her PhD in Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media and her Master of Science in Communication. In addition to her dissertation where she proposes a schema for visual research methods, she has worked with Drs. Victoria Gallagher and Magdy Ma on developing a theory of visual wellbeing and with Dr. Melissa Johnson on a theory of digital credibility. Kelly has also conducted communication-across-the-curriculum (CXC) research with Dr. Deanna Dannels examining the communication practices of design critiques. Prior to attending graduate school, Kelly worked for The Coastland Times, Dare County Public Relations and founded ripCurrent magazine on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt

Design Researcher and User Experience Specialist, gotomedia User Experience
gotoresearch Research Team, gotomedia

Berkeley, CA, USA

Kelly Murdoch-Kitt enjoys combining her design sensibility, interest in research, and linguistic facility to create sensitive, effective and delightful concepts and solutions. Kelly relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009, after completing her Master of Graphic Design degree at North Carolina State University's College of Design. Her thesis research explores Lave and Wenger's theories of situated learning and design anthropologist Dori Tunstall's experiential elements of virtual communities. Kelly balances her love of researching and designing for the digital environment with an equal passion for communication in the physical realm. Her undergraduate degree is in fine art and theatre, and she has over ten years of experience in print design. Currently, Kelly works as a design researcher and user experience specialist at gotomedia, an interaction design and research firm based in San Francisco, CA, and will also be teaching in the Design Program at University of San Francisco as of fall 2011. In her spare time, she gardens, experiments with photography, plays classical flute, and teaches yoga.

Ref: G12P0255