Teaching Talia

Reflection on Electives

Posted on: June 25, 2010

There were three main assessment pieces for this subject:
1. A research report on a cross-disciplinary project (credit)
2. A Comparitive analysis of each group member’s assignment/project (Distinction)
3. This reflection.

Cross Disciplinary Art & Design: What is it?
To say I learnt a lot during this course, would be an understatement. I really had no formal idea of what cross-disciplinary meant, only ideas, thoughts, perceptions and opinions. I really have a much more involved idea of what is involved in cross-disciplinary art and design now, and how it is applicable to my creative endeavours.

Processes of Collaboration

The processes that I went through with the first two assignments were fairly different. For the first I took a very structured approach- where I researched the project, and wrote it in a very formal format. I also had specific times allocated to working on the assignment, which helped me to stay focused and dedicate large chunks of time to it (a preferred way or working for me). With the group assignment it was a much more drawn out process, and one where the different areas kept being revisited and reworked. Being a collaborative project we dealt with similar issues to the ones we were studying. When/how to communicate, how to remain on task and to a timeline (how to get things done by the due date), etc. I definitely enjoyed the group task more, for a few reasons.
1. I didn’t have to be good at everything. Lets face it, I’m NOT good at everything. I have my strengths, and my weaknesses. I was fortunate enough to be in a group where everyone complimented each other really, really well.
2. If I wasn’t sure about something, I could ask. I guess I could have done this with the forums in the previous assignment, but it’s different when people have a vested interest in you doing well…

Motivation. It wasn’t so much that I was accountable (though that did help motivation), it was that we were all doing it together. We all shared the same goal, and were working as a team. This really helped to motivate me because I had other people to ‘push off’ so to speak.
In terms of the group assignments, communication was definitely the common theme in everyone’ reflections. I definitely think in any project communication is one of the most important things, in a few different ways. Firstly because the point of the project is to communicate an idea, secondly because you need to communicate your own idea to yourself, and thirdly because if you’re in a team you need to communicate with your other group members.

Out of all the group assignments I did in my various subjects this semester, this group project was by far the most successful both in terms of results, and communication within the group.

How I work collaborate with others

When my group got together and we read and reflected on each other’s assignments, I found that our group was very ‘nice’. By that I mean that no one said negative things about the other people’s projects, and everyone worked really well as a team. This in itself I think is amazing, as I truely enjoyed working with other motivated, inspired individuals who strived to achieve a good assignment together. The cross-disciplinary process that we went through was very informative (even from the perspective that it helped me understand better the process that the people in my project might have gone through), but I felt like people’s ‘specialities’ weren’t detailed enough at the beginning.

I think one of the reasons our team worked well was because we had a clear leader. Yvonne took charge, and helped direct all of us. This was a great relief, as I felt like I was doing this in other group assignments in other subjects, and it was very helpful to have someone else take the more demanding role. On that note, managing the four different courses (not to mention full time work, and full time life), was a bit of a cross-disciplinary juggle in itself. Looking at the needs, restraints and outcomes of each of the courses was sometimes difficult, but my end project- this Graduate Certificate, is happening, and needed all those parts to happen.

Formal Feedback

The formal feedback I received for each of these assignments was, as you would expect, a combination of things I did well, and things I missed. With no disrespect meant to Simon AT ALL, I have to say that the formal feedback was only a small part of my learning process. I definitely appreciated it, and learnt from it, but I think the actual process of creating the assignments was a big learning opportunity, as well as the discussions in the forums.

Listening to the Lectures

For me, the last lecture, by Weina Ha has been the most beneficial for me. This has been because of the really practical way in which Weina explained the process. I also particularly enjoyed the lecture by Jennifer New.

Reflecting as you go

The reflections that I made on each lecture in the forums, and the discussions that arised from those, were also really informative. At times I had to justify what I thought, like in the Jennifer New Talking Points message board where I justified putting my visual journals online. There were also great discussions in there on things like, “is personal necessarily private”, and there were quite a few issues raised here that I hadn’t thought of. I found this to be true in all of the talking point message boards from the lectures.
One of my ‘things’ that I talk about a lot to people, is seeing things from other people’s perspective. I really believe that this can be such a powerful way to learn. When we see things from other people’s perspectives we can really start to get a more holistic view on the thing you’re discussing. The message boards were an excellent way to see things from those other perspectives, and indeed to discover perspectives you didn’t know existed!

Influential Experiences

Putting it into practice: A few times already I’ve been able to put into the practice things that I’ve learnt in my courses. In ‘Creative Thinking Processes’ we looked at creative thinking strategies like SCAMPER and I’ve had the opportunity to teach and implement those strategies with the staff at my work. This has really helped to solidify the things I’ve been learning.
The ‘Draw Your World’ course was one I had the most difficulties with (I’ll talk more about them later), but has been one of the most important experiences in the course for me. My natural ‘way’ with things is to get them done quickly. I don’t like fussing over things and spending hours working out what the best way to do things is. I rarely do a task twice. Because of this ‘rushed’, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to my drawings in the unit, I didn’t put in the effort needed, and was asked to re-do nearly every piece I submitted. I found this to be really discouraging, but at the same time, incredibly rewarding. I was forced to re-think, slow down, and put more EFFORT into something that didn’t come as naturally as I thought it would (different types of drawing). I consider my actual achievements in this course very mediocre, but what I’ve LEARNT from the course is HUGE! I certainly learnt a lot about the process of continual checking, re-working, and making improvements to achieve a more developed and purposeful end product.

As I mentioned above, the ‘draw your world’ course was difficult for me. This was my own problem- being to rushed with my projects and not giving them the thought they deserved.

Learning to accept how other people function is something I had difficulty with. I felt like I clashed with members of my group in some of my group assignments for Creative Thinking Processes. This could have been all in my head, but it still impacted the way I contributed, and felt about the group. At times I felt very rejected and frustrated at the work people were doing, particularly when I felt I could have done a much better job. I think that if we had of established everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, and passions at the beginning of the first group task it would have saved some grief.

What I’ve learnt and how it’s impacted me

The process you go through to create something is worthy of the time it takes. I need to apply this to my work- appreciating the planning stages of our development more, and investing the time there. Often this gives a better end result, which means you don’t need to go back and fix it. The initial investment then becomes less then the overall expense of re-doing things.
EVERY person has strengths. In a collaboration it is each person’s responsibility to use their strengths and to identify the strengths of others. If I had of done this in my CTP group, it would have saved me stress later on.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration is about finding skilled people (or people’s strengths- whichever you have to work with) in different areas, and making something NEW from those skills. For me, this really effects my work (:-S EVERYTHING seems to be work related!!). If we take skilled people that normally don’t work together we can create really interesting eLearning. An example of this would be combining Articulate (a software for rapid elearning development), with filming technologies. The end result is engaging videos students can interact with, click on, and find more information on topics from.

In the collaboration process this is a real need to a) leadership b) responsibilities and c) honesty. The groups that had clear leaders always worked better then the groups that didn’t. This is true for the groups I was involved in. The leader should delegate tasks, and not take on more work then the other team members- just facilitate it so that everything happens how and when it should. People need to have responsibilities which the leader has laid out for them. People also need to feel responsible and accountable to the other people in their group so that they get work done. Honesty is important because there were times in my group assignments where I had to say, “sorry everyone, but can someone else finish this part off- I have too much on my plate”. I found that when I did that there was at least one person who was ready to help out. By being honest it meant that I didn’t let my team down with a sub-par performance, or a late submission. Of course, I ‘made it up’ to them later with input in other places. :-)
To infinity and beyond!

Certainly in the future I’d like to learn more about the creative thinking processes involved in cross-disciplinary collaboration. Creative thinking has always been an interest for me, but over this course of study it has really developed into a passion. I am excited about using creative thinking tools and processes more in workplace collaboration and development.


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Just finished my Graduate Certificate in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design with UNSW.




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