Http:// developing a computer-mediated model for the teaching of type design history

Archer, Ben
Eyles, John
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This project's purpose is to relocate traditional paper-based library content about typographic history to a website, curated as a digital museum. The project process is defined as three distinct parts: 1. Scholarship and research. 2. Model-building and website creation. 3. Deployment, testing and evaluation. To support this, the project included the following sub stages: An informal needs analysis generated by reflection on practice. A survey of contemporary typeface classification systems, type education literature and online resources for typographic study. The building of animated and three-dimensional prototype models. The creation of a database of 100 historically significant typeface designs. The sourcing of samples, references, images and the gathering of reproduction permissions from designers, institutions and foundries whose work features in the database. The writing, editing, design and launch of the website at Peer feedback and review. An evaluation study of the website with students at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. A series of revisions to the website structure and presentation. The writing up of the research process and findings. I chose this topic as the direct result of my experiences teaching typography at AUT University and other tertiary institutions. The need for graphic design students to demonstrate competencies in typography (as a sub-discipline of graphic design) has always been present, but has been fore grounded over the last two decades; however, a recent PhD thesis on the subject has argued that traditional delivery of print-based typographic knowledge no longer serves undergraduate requirements for today's divergent screen-based media (Yee, 2006, p.11). This has been accompanied by a significant rise in the number of available typefaces (Cahalan, 2004, p.62). Unfortunately the means with which to study them has not kept pace with these developments (Dixon, 2002, p.4).Changes occurring within the type manufacturing industry and the wider field of creative industries during the last two decades have made the historical, background context of typography harder to comprehend from an undergraduate point of view. Students complain that they are under-resourced for information (in their preferred research medium) about the typefaces they must demonstrate care and deliberation in choosing. From experience gained in observing an online-learning pilot scheme in 2005, I elected to develop an online reference resource designed for self-directed research of typographic history as a complement to the existing tuition of typographic applications face-to-face in the classroom. While the project offers a useful example of how practice-led research can augment a teaching situation, and is concerned with the promotion of student-centred and self-directed learning at AUT University, this is not its only objective as a public-access location on the internet. In keeping with the rising philosophy of open content for web-based education resources, a conscious decision was made at the project's inception to host and present the website independently of AUT University and its online learning environment.

Typeface design history , History of printing , Typographic history research project , Curriculum action research
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