Yvette Shen, The Ohio State University
Xun Michael Chi,  Laguna College of Art + Design
Yoshiko Burke, University of Cincinnati
Chen Wang, California State University, Fullerton

In design institutions across the United States, we are experiencing a paradigm shift in visual communication design education. Technological changes have radically altered the ways in which visual communication is defined and its role in our culture. Besides technological changes, design content and context have also fostered new directions of thinking about space, typography, colors, symbols and icons, balance and unity. These shifts bring unprecedented complexity. With the widespread use of integrated digital media and more collaborative approach to problem solving, the visual thinking and creative process are also taking place in a much wider context.

This panel exams pedagogical methods and creative processes that connect visual communication design and the following areas of study: information visualization, photography, documentary filmmaking, and user-experience design. A modern visual communication design class often deals with orchestrating different media components within an integrated and sometimes interactive whole. Multi-discipline collaboration is often necessary for problem solving. Thus, the design faculty faces the challenge of setting up a more “dialogical” educational environment rather than an “instrumental” one, yet still capitalizing on the depth and breadth of visual communication design – how it functions as an infrastructure that can bring areas of knowledge together and open to new set of connections, meanings and narratives.

Starting from the initial curriculum plan to project execution and evaluation, this panel intends to look into methods of integrating the analytical approach to the creative visual culture. Through practical examples, we will demonstrate how visual ideas can be generated, tested and altered in a variety of ways to create final visual solutions. We also aim to promote a cross-disciplinary learning environment that allows students from different educational background to quickly conceive, present, and communicate through visual representations in order to make valid design decisions and explore meaningful associations. Last but not least, this panel believes today’s design education should focus on not only the traditional design concepts, but also the importance of broadening students’ thinking and stretch their perceptions. The possibility of infinite connections between visual communication design and other disciplines is calling for the need for divergence – divergent thinking – which is required to stop the “techno-homogenization” of the creative process.


Visualizing as Thinking: The Non-Designers’ Design Education in Information Visualization

The most effective method of teaching critical thinking is to allow students to envision what their thinking looks like. This presentation focuses on a design course for non-design majored students about using visual frameworks to communicate ideas, concepts, and meanings. Regardless the nature of the  problems, students learn to identify and apply visualization skills to improve their abilities to look at problems, see patterns, imagine solutions, and show the solution to others effectively and efficiently.


Design Thinking in Photography

This presentation discusses how graphic design elements, principles and rhetorical figures can enrich the language of photography. A series of innovative interdisciplinary class projects between graphic design and photography will be presented with the curriculum planning. Students are challenged to investigate the endless possibilities of applying design thinking into photography, both conceptually and visually, and using photography to infuse creativity into visual communication designs.


Digital Convergence in an Interdisciplinary Setting: The Production Master Class

For the past four years, the Production Master Class at the University of Cincinnati has used interdisciplinary collaboration to transform the experiences of students in the remote settings of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula into converged digital media projects that have been distributed to audiences worldwide. To facilitate this collaboration, the PMC uses an online “digital classroom” developed and taught by two professors from different disciplines and a professional filmmaker and television director/producer. This initiative has allowed students from nine different academic programs at three UC colleges to fuse their work into award-winning outcomes for students and faculty. Integrating this pedagogical methodology into digital education curricula exponentially expands what can be taught, how it can be conveyed, and where learning can take place.


How User-Centered Research Redefines Design Process

For interactive media development, it proceeds with the user as the center of the focus. User Experience Research such as user analysis, personas, scenarios and user flow will alter the way how graphic designers used to work. The behavior of interaction affects product definition, which is about what functionality a product has as opposed to defining how that functionality is manifest, which is the traditional role of design. This presentation will use class projects as case studies to demonstrate how students benefit from those emerging development methodologies and how an evolving design process influences the planning, designing, and developing an interactive product.


Yvette Shen is a visual communication designer and educator. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Visual Communication Design at The Department of Design, The Ohio State University. She formerly practiced web, interactive, and print design for clients such as Lenox Hill, HGTV, ESPN, Saucony, Abbott, Novartis, Comcast, and various galleries and art events in New York City and Boston. Currently her research and creative work are mainly focused on information design, data visualization, and statistical graphics. Her creative works have been recognized and awarded by various design organizations and publications such as Information is Beautiful, Photomediations Machines, Civic Media Project, GD USA, AEJMC, BEA, Adobe Design Achievement Awards, Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts, etc. Her work has also been exhibited worldwide. Website: yvetteshen.com

Xun Michael Chi is an associate professor of visual communication at Laguna College of Art + Design. Chi holds an MFA from Purdue University, where his works achieved nationwide academic recognition. He also has a medical degree from Tianjin Medical University in China. He teaches various of courses including Graphic Design – Conceptual Thinking, Composition and Color, 3D animation and Photography. His photography has been featured in various magazines worldwide including Juxtapoz, Elle UK, Vogue Australia, Harper’s Bazaar China, Esquire China, etc. In 2016, he held a solo photography exhibition in Contemporary Art Museum of Ningbo, China. Chi has been invited as guest speaker in some top universities including Beijing University, China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing Normal University, etc. Chi is an executive member of The Association of Chinese Artists in American Academia. As a curator, Chi curated several international photography exhibitions. In 2016 Chi won the Excellent Curator Award in Pingyao International Photography Exhibition, China. Website: www.chixun.net

Yoshiko Burke is an Associate Professor of Communication Design in the Myron E. Ullman, Jr. School of Design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.
Burke’s breadth of professional experience as a visual communication designer and a digital media producer ranges from concept development to content production. Her current area of expertise lies in visual storytelling, motion graphics, and information narrative. Burke’s creative projects have been involving directing and creating visual narrative content for on-screen media. She has produced interactive narrative and documentary projects that garnered national awards from multiple Telly Awards, the Broadcast Education Association Media Arts Festival’s Interactive Multimedia Best of Competition Award, and the King Foundation Award. Her interactive documentary, The New Issei was supported by a 2006 Ohio Arts Council grant and premiered at Cincinnati Art Museum. Prior to her tenure with the UC, Burke worked professionally in the area of digital design, where she produced web/multimedia content for a number of Fortune 500 clients. Her mixed media artwork has also been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

Chen Wang obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Iowa in 2003. He has taught at Texas Tech University as an Assistant Professor in Communication Design. Currently he is a Professor teaching Graphic & Interactive Design at California State University, Fullerton. Chen’s research interests lie in the fields of visual communication across both print and digital media. In the past few years, Chen’s work have been accepted, exhibited and awarded by numerous international design competitions including 19th New American Talent Competition, The 9th International Biennial of the Poster in Mexico, and GOOD50x70 poster Design competition in Italy. Chen’s design work has been featured in book “LOGO SAVVY: Top Brand-Design Firms Share Their Naming and Identity”, “Color Management for Packaging”, and “Color Management for Logos” that’s distributed internationally.