Building Bridges Between Cultures through Graphic Design Advocacy

I’m attending the 10th Anniversary COIL Conference. Here are my live-blogged notes on one of the sessions. I’m looking forward to the recordings being online, as I want to play this one for our faculty!

Presenters: Eileen MacAvery Kane, Rockland Community College (United States)
Hendali Steynberg, Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa)

Description: Hendali Steynberg from Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa and Eileen MacAvery Kane from Rockland Community College, Suffern, NY, will present about a collaborative graphic design advocacy poster project between their classes. The project was a huge success, enjoyed by both classes while in the process creating cultural awareness, raising self-esteem, diminishing cultural bias, and creating understanding and a small, but mighty bridge, between two cultures.

Getting Started

Both faculty have business graphic design experience, and are teaching. Collaboration started because Eileen was invited to Tshwane University of Technology as a visiting faculty member due to a book that she published.

Eileen’s class was at the beginning of the semester; Hendali’s class was at the end of the semester.

This project lasted about six weeks.

Eileen is at a community college and had students with full time jobs; the South Africa students were full time students.

The Learning Experience

Students worked in groups – the class in South Africa was bigger, so making the groups fit together was a challenge to overcome.

They did an ice breaker video for students to introduce themselves and the campus; videos were posted on YouTube. The video ice breaker is highly recommended as it helps students get to know each other. Students are just as excited at the higher ed side of these collaborations as at the K12 level.

The student groups met in Google hangouts to meet to create posters. The students gave topics to each other to create posters about – topics on social issues. Students made their own posters, and then presented them to the students in the other country.

The posters were uploaded to a drive to share the posters and look at them ahead of time.

Culmination with an exhibit in the student union on the NY side, showing the posters created by both classes.

The graphic design class goals included both the discipline, but also learning about life. The two inform each other – students learn the content at the same time as experiencing the cultural interaction.

Cool Moments

Two students were from the same village!: One of the students in the community college in NY and one of the students in South Africa!

Lots of discussion around the posters made, and what was common and different. Many issues came up in the work: government corruption, drug use, college debt, etc.

Students were so eager, it wasn’t an issue for students to connect outside of class time.

Students communicated with each other outside of class – they used gmail and WhatsApp to talk to each other on the side.

Thank you to Eileen and Hendali for a great presentation – and a good example of how COIL works. This presentation will help me explain COIL to our faculty!

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