My Teaching Philosophy
4D Design Studies
2D Design Studies
Interactive Media Design
I have always believed that learning in the disciplines that feed into the creative and cultural industries, requires a solid understanding of formal systems that underpin a specific creative practice. In addition, it requires the ability to innovate or break the established rules as stated in this quote often attributed to Pablo Picasso, “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”.
For this reason, for courses in the Interactive Media Programme that I teach, which includes units in 2D Design, 4D Design, and 3D design, I often place emphasis on first laying the groundwork with principles, ways of working, processes and conventional techniques or pipelines prior to embarking on more explorative or experimental approaches. Related to this, I also encourage learners to tap into their sense of individuality as expressed through their unique styles, personal stories, cultural leanings and ways of working which make their work identifiable.
My approach to teaching Interactive Media Design courses has greatly shifted since first joining academia. In the beginning, I pretty much taught as I had been taught, playing a rigid instructor role with a heavy focus on theory. Over the years, I’ve moved away from this instructor-led focus and supplanted it with a more learner-centered approach where my role is that of a facilitator. While the change is partly motivated by evidence-based research that learner-centric constructivist approaches yield better learning outcomes, it’s also largely driven by lessons learnt from my own artistic practice, as well as the need to stay relevant amidst rapidly changing tools, techniques, and software. I thus play the role of a guide on the side through regular feedback sessions with students, cumulative grading, providing a range of supplemental learning resources, tapping into the expertise of people in industry, and where possible, adapting to the various learning style of diverse learners in the classroom.
As a design educator, training for the real world also plays a key role in how I approach teaching and learning. These ‘real-world’ scenarios morph ever so rapidly, and like most educators working with a plethora of technology, I focus not so much on the usage and reliance on specific tools or software. Rather, I place more emphasis on the modes of working with digital media tools to enable a cross-over of skills into other fields that have an affinity for the skills that learners have acquired. Further, the digital landscape is ever-changing and new professions that did not even exist in the last decade continue to spring up. For instance, a few years ago, the role of a 3D Artist in a data science team was pretty much unheard of. However, with the growing real-world need for training data, data scientists need 3D artists to help churn huge datasets of synthetic data that can be used to train their models.
Relatedly, I give emphasis to relevant skill acquisition that supports critical inquiry, unpacking design theory, supporting self-exploration through individual practice, and encouraging collaboration through group work sessions that mirror real-world collaborative work dynamics to better prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist.
I am also a proponent of practice-based and practice-led research, a bias that has been deeply ingrained through my own practice as a Creative Technologist. My training as a graphic designer lent itself well to my first role as a character designer and following in-house training at the animation where I first worked; I quickly transitioned to Layout Design and Animation. During this time, the wide-ranging skills (from ideation to post-production) that feed into the practice of animation became apparent. Furthermore, I became aware of the different approaches by different artists and animators, which in retrospect, constituted artistic research. Here was a process of deliberate inquiry including the methods, motivation, inspiration, reflection, discussion, formulation of research questions, conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation, which provided ground with which to gain new knowledge and further engage with the medium. Artistic research can be understood as research in and through the arts to infer an investigation conducted by an artist, and where the artist’s experiences and insight seek to improve the knowledge needed in the artistic process and production.
I have also used the classroom as an opportunity to teach or dig deeper into a new concept that I would like to learn. For instance, in a past 4D class that I taught, I introduced students to the subject of motion capture using a motion capture suit that I had recently acquired. It was a great and humbling experience to learn alongside the students
I owe my students a passion for the subjects that I teach, and instruction, a desire to see them succeed, drive to explore and discover new opportunities or applications of the skills that they have learned. To this end, I advocate for life-long learning through a balance of participating in professional development training that addresses the pedagogy, and strong industry connection to keep up to date with the rapid changes.