So, what is a college to do? There is too much to fit into a 4-year undergraduate program, let alone a 2-year masters degree. There are too many skills, too many approaches and processes, and way too many tools. Where should the focus be?
Do you go for breadth to make sure students understand the landscape and where they can play in it? I believe that to be very important, but it must be done briefly to allow focussed instruction as well. I try to canvass the design landscape in a single semester for my students, because I want them to break out of the graphic design silo that I find them in. It doesn’t necessarily give them enough depth in any one discipline to qualify them as a professional, but at least it gives them the opportunity and direction to pursue something that particularly interests them.
Do you focus on process, assuming that if students graduate with a strong, yet flexible design process, they will be able to adapt it to every situation, every job, every domain they find themselves working in?
Should education be heavily weighted toward skills and tools, making graduates immediately employable in production, knowing that they will grow and develop strategy muscles through mentorship and on-the-job training? Or should specialized skills and tools be ignored, knowing that they may be outdated within a year or two after graduation?
Is it better to build a program around up-and-coming disciplines, planting flags and defining roles, even though they may not be hiring in large numbers for several years? Or would students be better off focussing on areas of practice that may not be pushing the boundaries but are hiring like mad?
And are there different answers depending on whether its an undergraduate or graduate degree program?
To be continued…