NCCCS A+GD Program Next Steps

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On 2/24/19, I attended the North Carolina Community College Fine Arts Conference Session NCCCS A+GD Program Next Steps at the Meroney Theater in Salisbury, NC moderated by Dr. Brian Morris of Catawba Valley Community College

Rather than a Professional development session, this was more of an Informal conversation. What do we want to capitalize on before we leave? Contact information will be a great step. Brian Morris will moderate and we can formalize and capitalize on resources.

We would like to bring the AFA back and increase the number of articulation agreements. We are tangentially related by adopting the ART track and GRD/GRA track. Where are these going to go? DME digital media technology program. Pasteup, Stat Camera are gone. Design thinking and UX is important now. Is it research, data analysis, storytelling? Is it software only? Managing this for articulation is important. AFA in visual art transfers, but our materials do not.

What should we discuss? Formalization requires contact and available people. We can decree today by consensus to be a group with standard boilerplate bylaws. Many people are on board. We want to talk about officers and facing the magnitude of challenges that the AFA faced. Creating the articulation agreements with universities may be difficult. CCP is difficult. We have a draft of the bylaws, and we’d like to get people together.

Does the A+GD degree name need to change? Does it mean what it used to mean? Are we media directors now? Is it digital Media. Having 15hrs of DME entitles you to a Digital Media Technology degree, and the other 50+ hours can be anything! To keep a healthy A+GD program means the needs must continue to move forward. We are working under old descriptions, but we are teaching the skills and methods we wish to teach. Do we want to push that? We find that there are formally 6 GRD Programs in the UNC System.

Articulation may be an issues if faculty do not have masters degrees in Graphic Design. There are some classes with UI/UX which need to be built and added. Some classes are still tlaking about pagemaker and/or coreldraw. These are topics to keep in mind moving forward.

Are masters degrees required? There are multiple degrees with BS, BFA, BA in Graphic Design, or Specialization in Graphic Design. Is business and marketing a good degree to complement the design backgroun? What ideas do we have to address this as a body? Graphic Design degrees are hard to transfer. Portfolios may not be good enough, or 4-year schools don’t want 2-year students. One problem is that the number of contact hours don’t transfer or run into the credit surcharge because they have the wrong credits. A 2-hour class cannot work, but it counts against the number of hours a student has taken which runs afoul of the credit max allowed for the “graduate in 4” system item for colleges.

Is articulation really important? The majority of some populations in some schools are returning 4-year students. The trouble is really the stigma of a 2-year degree holder. Keyword sniffers  block AAS in terms of employment. We are looking for 1-2 students a year. Maybe this is important and maybe its not as important.

What about private college relationships? some have made good deals by speaking with private schools in general? should we work to increase the deals we can make with other schools and examine those?

The idea of “stackable credentials” will be pushed in the future. Its really about the skillpath and job path that students can follow. Industry-specific credentials may be used in the future to out maneuver courses where they already have skills. How can we maintain the go-to credentials? A 4-yr school student who starts at a 2-yr school has a different track in mind. Where are our students going to go? We should focus our core strengths, and determine where we want our students to go and alter our classes based on that pathway.

We don’t want advisors to say “graphic design goes nowhere”. We want them to say “UNC-Charlotte will accept the GRD degree and here’s what credits you’ll get…”

What does this mean? We’ll need to meet once a year or so. WAKE TECH is close to the system office, and can make a nice meeting place which is centralized. The RTP campus outside of Durham is adequate.

Ms. Cobb of CVCC was then voted in as president. Mr. Compton of CPCC was voted in as Vice President. Ms. Holleran of CPCC was voted in as secretary. Ms. Cousar of CPCC was voted in as treasurer. These were all voted in for a 2-year term. At-Large members will need to be chosen. We’ll need representatives for at-large reps from 4-year schools and community colleges. We can continue this conversation during the wrap-up and also set some goals for ourselves and the conference next year.

We were then all invited to CVCC to visit the department and spaces. The meeting was then turned over to the new president, Ms Cobb.


Bridging the gap between graphic design education and professional practice

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On 2/23/19 at 10am, I attended the North Carolina Community College Fine Arts Conference Session Bridging the gap between graphic design education and professional practice at the Meroney Theater in Salisbury, NC presented by Jenn Cobb of Catawba Valley Community College

Mrs. Cobb Introduced herself and pointed out Hickory, NC and how nice it is to connect to colleagues. Its nice not to feel like an island but in fact a community and population.

Time gets faster as you get older. How much difference in a single decade- for most of us its glasses J.

2009 – ten years back.

Technology gives us the image, the iphone 3, jimmy fallon on tonight show and parks and rec debuts. Black eyed peas: Boom Boom Boom.

1999 – twenty years back

G3 bondi blue tower. Nokia cell phone 100m a month, free nights and weekends. Sopranos, and Spongebob. TLC: Don’t want no scrubs

1989-thirty years back

Apple 2E, Motorola cell phone, Seinfeld debuts, saved by the bell. Chicago: If you see me walking by


What a difference 1-3 decades make. We are training students to enter a field wherestudents can stay in the field for 2-3 decades. As we as teachers keep moving, how can we as educator stay relevant and keep those students prepped for their fields?

We are at a a crossroads in design education. 1) methods to educate the emerging designer overlap with shifts in industry demands and rapidly emerging technology. Like any crossroads, you can choose to change directions at any time. How might we make a change in design education. How can we turn this into an opportunity? We have to provide relevant knowledge to allow students to enter the job market and be prepared for the workplace. Calls for Graphic Design Education realignment come from multiple directions, but change remains slow because of program differences in school, lack of standards between 2 and 4 year school, and changes and inconsistencies within industry itself. Necessary changes must be made at the core level.

Change is accelerating, and design education is stuck: Hugh Dubberly.

What does the future look like for employment? The designer of 2016 was put out in 2007. The designer of 2025 was put out in 2017. The results are sobering. 7% is the average growth. Desktop publishing was said to lose 21% (-21% esmiation). 0-1% growth in graphic design (print based and corporate identity, 4-year ddegree- 20% self employed). Web Design 27% increase for networked communications. 1 in 5 graphic designers are expected to be self-employed.

Slower than average growth will be seen in graphic design, large growth in web design. Our goals should be to increase the 27% growth in networked communication.

How can we educate the graphic designer?

Meredith Davis adhere to an outdated educational model that relies on apprenticeship methods- here are the pieces, make this final item. This is a fallacy. Instead, we should focus on open-ended, critical thinking models. Creating items in which students are choosing to create the artifacts which are passionate ideas for them are going to be the best solution.



(Is this relevant? Are clients arriving with ideas (I need a poster) or are they trusting the designers (we need a marketing solution). How can we fill that gap.)


Do we as teachers ignore the critical step of asking “is this solution right for the client?”

Are we teaching them t be form manipulators are we teaching them to be message makers? Are we running a proper blend of critical thinking and apprenticeship



How are the opportunities for the students in your area? Industry demands shift. UI/UX Design, social media manager, exp design, app design, web design are all increasing. Get to know the service area and how can we make shifts or changes to produce the innovative ideas that can work for each industry. At some point, students will need to flexibly move to message makers

We are changing from industrial to knowledge economy. Its not the form of the message, it’s the message itself. Its not apprenticeship, but critical thinking. In the past, viewers were passive and messages were linear. Now, participants are active in receiving and sending and internectted to the systems involved. Instead of to an audience we are now moving by and with the people. Its not products, its people and human focused materials. Design used to be cosmetic and top down design. Tomorrow it will be bottom up and integrated, developing organically in the message.

Are we still meeting the service needs of our area?

How does industry hire talent from our institution?

What if we included a virtual portfolio day for a week? Let’s discuss how we would implement this.



Students have to be ready to work with print, interactive, digital and web program. As technology and social media changes this landscape, we’re juggling all these methods and preparations for our students. Can we teach our students to be agile? How can they be continual learners? If they are tech savvy today, can we teach them to be current and tech savvy in the future? It is difficult to hire adjunct faculty with skills and ability. Technology is bringing us opportunities but it’s a double edged sword, needing students to be ready to pivot and learn.

So how can we bridge this gap?

Education: Consider program revisions at a local level. Re-evaluate your discipline to include soft skills and larger, systems-based projects. Consider revisions at the state level. Use the resource we have in AGD colleagues.

One of us is an island, but together we are a community, a force to be reckoned with

Industry: Students must be adaptable. Get to know industry in your service area such as printers and design agencies. Use surveys to get specific answers and answers to open-ended questions. Encourage development of personal work values.

Many students feel that software skills are the top item for hiring. Its 7 of 10 for employers, with information of team-levels and building larger items, especially soft skills.

Technology: Students must be human-centered by software savvy and technologically fluent. Students should be exposed to more network communication design. Encourage faculty to increase Prof Dev. Increase tech-based representation of our advisory boards. Incorporate formal technology plans. Use the power of tech to our advantage and add new learning opportunities.


We know there are challenges, but how do we make this opportunities for growth? We need to keep focusing on the future.