Teaching is a process by which students are motivated to make discoveries in ways that persistently, profoundly, and positively influence how they think, act, and feel. In the instruction of new media and contemporary design practices this mode of pedagogy is accomplished through emphasis on technological, material, and conceptual investigations. These investigations sustain an educational environment where technical proficiency, experimentation and collaboration are championed. The skills, knowledge and experience gained from this environment will foster students’ success in achieving academic and professional goals in the growing field of new media art and design.
As an instructor in this field, my first responsibility is to ensure that my students can successfully employ tools and techniques crucial to new media practice. I design lectures and exercises to get students excited about technology, often drawing from works by established artists and designers in the vocation of technology and digital media. While inspiring them and sparking their imaginations, these activities also serve to set high standards for students and to get them actively engaging with technological tools and processes. With persistent practice, students learn how to troubleshoot and solve technical problems on their own. This proficiency and familiarity prepares students to independently build upon an arsenal of technical knowledge and theory.
My next duty is to teach students the value of experimentation in this realm of artistic practice. I structure projects and assignments to promote innovation and imaginative problem solving, often requiring students to generate a multitude of concepts before settling on any one trajectory. In-class exercises are designed reintroduce digital and technological media as materials with which to test limits and push boundaries. These approaches to creative design encourage students not just to derive from works and projects they’ve seen, but to attempt something novel.
Through experimentation and material investigation students develop unique design strategies and learn to independently generate creative ideas.
There is also a responsibility to instill in students the importance of conceptual investigation and critical inquiry. I approach this through the lens of collaboration. Regular studio critiques serve as exercises in collaborative problem solving. I lead each critique by asking what is potentially at stake in the work’s design and manifestation. As classmates engage in critical dialogue, they collaboratively draw connections between experience, content and concept. Through sharing, teamwork, and a classroom environment that encourages multidisciplinarity, students utilize their unique strengths and experiences to explore new ideas and concepts.
Finally, as their mentor, I must also foster professionalism in my students. I serve as a strong role model by persistently investigating new tools and processes and actively engaging in contemporary art and new media practice. To further prepare students for careers as practitioners of art and design, I require artist statements, proposals and photo and/or video documentation to be submitted along with projects. As students gain experience in these facets of professional artistic practice, they also begin building a portfolio of artwork and literature.
Teaching is a means to share, to inspire and to encourage creative and critical inquiry. By encouraging technical proficiency, experimentation, and conceptual investigation through collaboration, I employ a persistent, profound, and positive mode of pedagogy in my instruction of new media and contemporary design practice.
Bryan Cera, 2013.