Designing Solutions!

Liz reflects on working through challenges with our College students in assessment pieces utilising complex new software!

In the College Certificate IV Design program, we began our term investigating colour theory. We looked at the meaning and relationship of colour. This led onto using our research to create posters and logos using industry-standard design software. This threw up a great challenge! I received many enquiries from students concerned that they couldn’t complete the work that was set.

Left: Colour Theory Research posters.

Using a design facilitation technique, we worked through this problem as a group. I gathered up my ‘team’ and asked them to write down all of the problems they were facing with the current assessments. Individuals wrote down their issues on separate post-it notes. The students then came to the whiteboard and put their problems on the board. As a group we decided how to categorise the problems.
Three quite clear issues arose;

TECHNICAL – not knowing how to use the software,

TIME – the deadlines were too short given lack of skill with the software and;

CREATIVITY – not knowing how to come up with good ideas.

Once this was identified I asked the students how to solve the issues.

“What can YOU do to fix this?”

Students worked together in groups to come up with their own solutions. These were then placed next to the issues on more post-its. It was heartening to see that there were more solutions than problems!

“It was heartening to see that there were more solutions than problems!”


After reading through the solutions we needed to come up with an ACTION PLAN, so that the solutions could be realised. Using members of the class who were already confident with the software we developed groups and appointed leaders. They were to guide their colleagues through basic difficulties in realizing their creative concepts because of technical issues.

Having listened to the students concerns about time I was able to move the due dates for the assessments a little to give them the opportunity to understand the software. This was framed as though I was the client. Through negotiation, we resolved that if I wanted a quality product I needed to give my service provider more time.

With the issue of CREATIVITY we discussed the idea of just living life.

The trick, as I see it, with being creative – is to experiment. To take a chance that you might look like an idiot and not care. Trying things out, failing and failing again. Getting out in the world to see things instead of sourcing information from behind a sheet of glass. If we are constantly viewing our world through a screen our perception is just an interpretation of how someone else sees it. If we engage with our world more we understand it, if we understand it, we can explain it to someone else. This is our job as designers.



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