Post-Pandemic Design Education: Where Do We Go From Here? (Postscript)

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Edited by Steven Heller

All art and design schools and university programs in the United States during the age of COVID-19 have had to develop alternative methods of teaching students. Although there has not been a one-size-fits-all solution, various forms of complete or partial remote learning have been in effect for almost a year. When the pandemic ends—and it will—educators will have to decide how to integrate at least some of the new approaches with the old. We asked a medley of teachers and chairpersons from a variety of schools to answer two questions about the imminent future. Yesterday they weighed in on which of the pandemic-inspired changes in procedure and methodology they will retain. Today, we ask a brief postscript:

Of the measures your schools have instituted to protect students’ health and well-being during the pandemic, which will you be happy to see disappear with the virus?

Sean Adams

Chair, Undergraduate and Graduate Design, ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena

50,000 emails about every tiny issue. Looking forward to meeting with faculty and students to quickly address issues, see enthusiasm in the classroom in person, and be inspired.

Angela Riechers

Program Director, Graphic Design, University of the Arts, Philadelphia

What will I be happy to see go away? Staring at a screen of little black squares, most of the students with their cameras turned off. It’s way harder to teach without being able to read the room (body language and facial expressions), and I can see how hard it is for some students to maintain direction and focus. Design studios are better live.

Lita Talarico

Co-chair, MFA Design, School of Visual Arts, NYC

I will gladly bid goodbye to Zoom meetings; they are formal and structured and it’s more difficult to be spontaneous. Also, working from home can be a challenge.

Natalia Ilyin

Director, Design Program, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle

What will I be happy to see go away? The phrase, “I think you’re muted.” Oh my lord, I hear it or say it 15 times a day and never want to hear it again.

Jennifer Rittner

Faculty, MFA Products of Design and MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism, School of Visual Arts, NYC

I will be more than happy to see Zoom classes disappear, though I think some accommodations should be made for students who did thrive in the virtual environment.

Gail Anderson

Chair, BFA Design and Advertising, School of Visual Arts, NYC

I can’t wait to see students’ faces again in real life (even in masks), though I’ve enjoyed watching various attention-seeking cats cross their screens regularly. Our students have been warriors this academic year, creating good work, waking up early, and staying up late (they’re scattered across the globe). I’ll be happy to cut back on my Zoom time and to stop using words like pivot.

Anne H. Berry

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Cleveland State University

I will be happy to see complete reliance on technology—for conducting classes and communicating and interacting with students—go away. There are many ways in which technology has been a blessing over the course of the last year. I am so appreciative of the way CSU has helped ensure that students have access to the resources they need in order to keep up with their coursework and stay connected. And I am still able to see evidence, on a regular basis, that creativity, learning and development are continuing to happen. I continue to be grateful for that. At the same time, I think students are missing out on making the kinds of connections that naturally develop when they are directly in contact with one another. It’s harder to demonstrate that you are fully present for and engaged with what your classmates are doing when you are separated by screens and adjusting to time lags. I also think there’s a level of confidence that students gain with their work and their ability to communicate when they are physically surrounded by a supportive community of teachers and peers.

Stefan Sagmeister

Instructor, MFA Design, School of Visual Arts, NYC

The need to be extra animated on Zoom.

Gjoko Muratovski

Director, Myron E. Ullman Jr. School of Design, University of Cincinnati

I would be happy to see the masks go away.