In Fall 2008, the Faculty of Communication Studies at Mount Royal College, Calgary, launched a four-year Bachelor Degree in Information Design. As part of the first-semester core curriculum, we introduced a course titled Tools for Information Design. While a first-year undergraduate course of this kind might typically involve introductions to the standard suite of software used by designers, we have found that students in our other programs tend to have two weaknesses: a mind-set rooted in software dependency, and a focus on self-expression that is not appropriate for information designers. We therefore chose instead to focus on teaching low-fidelity sketching practices for designers (as opposed to artistic drawing). The course also emphasized three key approaches to information design: user-centred design, iterative concept development, and various strategies for problem solving. We found that this emphasis on concept development through low-fidelity sketching helped the students to experience preliminary professional practice directly upon beginning the program. In addition, our focus on sketching allowed nervous students who were technologically-intimidated to access the practices of professional information designers without becoming immediately engrossed in the details of learning how to use software.
Milena Radzikowska, Brian Traynor, Stan Ruecker, & Norman Vaughn. Published in Proceedings of the 4th Information Design International Conference. Rio De Janeiro, BraziL, pp. 744-756.