Teachers and professionals connect to discuss the future of design education at RGD's first Design Educators Conference
Following last week's DesignThinkers, RGD and York University partnered to welcome design educators from across the country to RGD's first annual Design Educators Conference. 


"Perspectives From the Field was the first  of what we hope will be many gatherings where Educators can come together to re-imagine the future of graphic design education," explain co-organizers of the event Sandra Gabriele RGD and Angela Norwood RGD. "We are at a transformative point in time for both design education and the profession. Our way of thinking about how and what we design has changed radically from a profession with a focus on creating concrete visual artefacts to one of designing intangible contexts. The conference provided a forum to begin the conversation as a community of graphic design educators."


The event included an opening keynote presentation from Toronto-based designer and educator Maggie Fost, Art Director at Merge Records. Through music videos and personal experiences, Maggie illustrated the importance of aspiration and risk-taking. Her talk focused on strategies for encouraging students to direct their efforts toward continued learning rather than trying to convey a 'designer rockstar' persona. 


“The ability and desire to learn new things and the belief that we can continue learning is what keeps life interesting and makes us good designers.”  - Maggie Fost 


Break-out sessions featured a range of speakers and topics divided into three broad categories: Teaching, Learning and Doing. Presentations explored the merging of traditional techniques with modern digital technologies, the importance of intuitive methods of creation, the academic implications of data visualization, work modes of the creative process, sustainability, interactivity, research, professional practice and more. For a full list of topics and speakers, click here.


Over lunch, roundtable discussions provided opportunities to share opinions and perspectives on issues affecting design education, such as professional development for educators, online and blended curricula, client projects and collaboration, etc. 

To close the conference, Cleveland-based designers, educators and authors Jenn and Ken Visocky-O'Grady shared their perspectives on sources of inspiration in education and professional practice. Following the closing keynote, delegates were invited to a reception at York's Department of Design. 
"It was an enlightening experience to be able to meet with and listen to so many wonderful and talented design educators," says John Barry, Coordinating Instructor for Graphic Design at the College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland. "So much good can happen when we meet and share ideas, problems and passions. This conference is an important step in helping all of us to be better at what we do, and in turn, better help our students to be the best they can be."
Next year's RGD Design Educators Conference will be hosted by Centennial College and will take place on Saturday, November 8, 2014 (immediately after DesignThinkers). Check rgd.ca and designthinkers.com for updates in the new year.