A New Approach to Design Pedagogy Fostering Learning of Visual Design Principles Through M-Learning: Applying Algorithms to Visual Design Principles




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This research revealed promising results by merging old principles to new approaches in visual design education. Initial empirical analysis of participants who tested the mDes application applying four of the principles of design in comparison to conventional methodologies showed the most significant results of retention for the m-learning application. This approach fosters visual literacy in students through the application of theories of cognition, learning, and m-learning with design thinking principles.

Visual communications design or graphic design has always had an awkward relationship with technology. One of the many tasks that designers undertake is to find connections that allow them to organize visual, spatial, and typographic content to create new meaning and experiences for the viewer. Visual language syntax is often called the elements and principles of design.

The Bauhaus called this a “language of vision,” a concept based on linguistic theory, that continues to shape design education today. The principles of design are often quoted with varying lists of graphic elements, amongst the most commonly used in compositions are rhythm, balance, scale, proximity, similarity, and contrast.

By exploiting the brain’s innate capacity to find and create visual order amongst patterns, designers create unity and direct attention through the skilled application of these design principles. The question that arises, “are the conventional methods of graphic design teaching practices optimized for the digital age?”

To answer this question, a mobile application, mDes, was developed using guidelines based on various affordances of mobile technology and learning theories. Algorithms translated classic Bauhaus design principles into an interactive mobile app that incorporates real-time and relational-topic feedback, mobile technology heuristics of touch, repetition, self-directed learning, personalization, as well as, active learning theory. A between-subject empirical analysis with traditional methodologies suggests that the mDes app is an effective method for teaching visual design principles.

This research intends to help fill the neglected area of research found in current literature for m-learning applications in visual arts focused on design pedagogy. This project produced guidelines that form a 4R Framework, which applies design thinking strategies to ways of discovery through mobile technology. A more dynamic pedagogical method will hopefully be encouraged in our complex visual world. By tackling the “wicked problems” confronted by visual arts research from various perspectives and disciplines, we hope to produce a more robust dialogue amongst interdisciplinary domains and explore implications for designers, researchers, and practitioners of design. From a more global perspective, this research aims to foster a higher level of aesthetics in all disciplines that participate in visual communication.



Graphic arts, Educational technology, Mobile communication systems in education, Feedback control systems



©2019 Elizabeth Ann Berger. All Rights Reserved.