Saturday, September 20, 2014

The power of potential

My pioneer batch of students taking Design Studies (DS) as their Applied Subject (AS) for their O levels have just finished with their final component, which is their oral presentations, a few weeks ago. Though i can't reveal much in terms of their projects, nor how they fare generally at this juncture, what I want to reflect on is this thing called potential.

I remembered that certain sense of apprehension when i first had a talk on how the curriculum was supposed to look like when discussions were started way back in 2009. The idea was to offer a new subject area that will be almost mutually exclusive in terms of its content compared with current offerings like Art and Design and Technology (D&T). It must be significantly different enough to justify it as a new subject, and rigorous enough for it to be managed by 15 to 16-year olds.

The challenge was real as such content has never been 'brought down' to the upper secondary school level, nor watered-down to deem it to be of a lesser rigour than other subject offerings at the same level. The challenge for me was also real, in the context of how can a subject area that has an artsy- and design-slant 'survive' in an environment that is seemingly more STEM-centric, within the institution that I was teaching.

The journey was not without its challenges. How can the department prepare the students for this new subject, and how can the students be able to level up to the rigours of this new subject? On another note, how can resources be deployed effectively and optimally, without any adverse impact on others?

I'm happy to say that this past 2 years have started to bear fruit! Seeing how the students have managed to work on their projects, and the quality of their deliverables, gives me that rare sense of satisfaction towards something that have slowly developed to something that is more...concrete! That finally some things, if not all, starts to make more sense....that the subject matter finally have begun to produce students that can showcase their true potential towards something that is more STEAM-, than STEM-centric (the 'A' here refers to Art, or artistic elements).

What is ahead for the subject area? There's still lots more work to be done, and ironed out. Getting good students to want to take up this subject is one of them; ensuring that the mindset who undertakes this journey with me is correct, is another. the journey is still long and arduous, but it is one that would be good for all in the end.

A welfie during my final session with the pioneer/graduating batch of DS/AS

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Telling your stories...

It has been a while since I last updated this blog, but I thought it is a good time for me to work on some of my posts right now.

It has been a good year so far, and one aspect that I am enjoying this year is the opportunities that have been given to me to present at various platforms. Let me start by sharing my experience at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) a few weeks ago.

It was one of those emails from a working associate, with warm emails (versus cold ones?), and loo and behold, one thing leads to another, and there I was presenting to an audience of about 20 to 30 students and faculty members from NAFA.

It was a good yet overwhelming experience for me, given my background and my current teaching experience to only the younger folks in my school. But I did give it my best, and added in contexts that I hope will enable my audience to see possibilities that the more mature students can achieve, given the possibilities that have been realised by my younger students.

More than that, I hope that this could also be a start, perhaps of something more. It made me realise the possibilities of mobile devices, and what they can create and do. I do hope to continue my work on realising some of the things and possibilities that I presented.

If you are interested in the iBook that I presented, you can download it HERE. (note that it is a rather large file...about 315 Mb)

A 'welfie' after my presentation

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How devices are making us rethink our seating positions?

Who would have thought that something as simple as just sitting on a chair has evolved over the recent years due to the ubiquitous use of tablets and other similar devices. No longer are chairs being designed just for the desktop or laptop-centric workplace environment. With the recent convergence of other smaller form-factor devices being part of our daily routine, there is a need to rethink our ideas of what a chair should be. This is where I thought the rethinking of the design of the humble chair is a step in the right direction. It just reminded me of a blog post that I did once before, about the need to standardize finger and hand gesturing across all devices, something similar to what signing does for the hearing and/or speech-impaired.

Taken from:

Have a look at a short video:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Video: Fast Sketch - Landscape Design

Love the landcape and architectural sketches done in this clip. Would love to try out some of his techniques, on a digital platform if possible:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The idea of faces on objects

Photo by: irfandarian, idphotography 2013
In recent months, I've started to notice faces in some of the objects that I used or passed by daily. No, it is not because I have gone nutty up there, but it seems strange to me that sometimes we can see things that we want to see in all these lifeless things around us.

Or perhaps this is just one of those skeuomorphic tendencies that I have as I delve a little deeper into the subject matter of design. Perhaps replicating a face-like design in some objects would lead to a greater acceptance by its users of the intended objects. Or perhaps, it is part of that grand plan, at the psychological or neural level, to make people happy about using the intended products! Or perhaps, it is just my mind playing face-recognising games on me, on those bored mornings/afternoons/evenings...the reasons I might never clearly know or find out, but one thing I do know is that not all things lends itself well to have a face implanted or imagined on it!

But then again...that's just my opinion.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

When technology stupefies you!

Taken from:
I was driving home the other day and a thought just struck me. If I was caught in a traffic jam but am in a very familiar road situation, would I still need a GPS system to guide me out of the jam? Would I be able to make that dynamic decision to perhaps change my route, that could perhaps save me from being stuck unnecessarily in an avoidable jam?

Perhaps when one talks about such a technology as the GPS system, one can't help but be thankful that such a technology exists, but I do feel that the convenience of having one does stupefies the user a little.  Now let me qualify my statement that no, it doesn't mean that using GPS confines one to a state of stupidity. It is just that the very fact that one knows that one has it, and can depend on it, would lead to a tendency of its users from moving away from thinking through their decisions, and solely based their directional judgements on a machine, which might not be able to perhaps see the jam 200 m ahead of you!

But on the other hand, I do feel that the GPS is a godsend in certain contexts and situations, more so in a situation where you are in an unfamiliar road condition or routes, or you are simply driving through a location that you have been a long while back, but have somewhat changed over the years. I do think that GPS is a good 'friend' to have by your side in such situations, but having them to make that judgements for you when you are on familiar ground, just seems a little 'not using your brain and letting it to rot' kinda of moment for me.

But then again, this is just my personal opinion.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Video: The 3 ways that good design makes you happy #designology

I concur about his idea of how good design makes you happy. But the pragmatist in me would also like to see design that makes the experience of the user using it happy too, rather than just be having that feeling at the visceral levels. On another note, I would love to have that teapot at my place!