Following the release of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in 2015, I was working with an instructor and her graduate-level course “The Role of Graphic Design in Social Awareness.” This course examines the vital role of visual communication within the dialog of a society, specifically regarding issues that affect the well-being of its cultural integrity. It’s one of my favorite courses taught at my institution and is invaluable to our students who take it. Students in this class generate visual campaigns which address social and political issues. One issue that the professor and I noticed was the lack of understanding research from an art and design perspective; she approached me with the idea to collaborate on a project that would help raise awareness that research is a vital aspect of art and design, though it may look different across disciplines. I saw this as an opportunity to integrate the framework in a meaningful, contextual way while also empowering students by demystifying what research is, as seen through the designers’ lens.
The students, instructor, and I worked together over the ten week quarter to interpret and contextualize the framework for SCAD students, with the goal of also integrating visual literacy components. At the end of the project, students shared three fantastic prototypes with us and one was chosen for further development:
The above artifact (photos compliments of GRDS students) is modeled after a swatch book, and includes a helpful research guide on one side and creative color palettes on the other. Students were overwhelmingly thoughtful throughout this whole process and were genuinely excited to share their work with the librarians. If asked and empowered to answer, students are capable of grappling with the complexity of the framework concepts and providing valid and unique insights into this seemingly forbidding document.
This project also led me to the conclusion that there is a disconnect between the concrete visual literacy standards and the more conceptual framework, so after our collaboration concluded I mapped the two to one another in order to see the relationship between them and start to connect the dots. This document has helped in revising the student-created guide and in thinking more deeply about where visual literacy fits into information literacy. It can be used to develop learning objectives that address both standards and higher-level concepts and has sparked new projects and ideas as well.
We are working to adopt this as a resource that the SCAD Libraries can make available to students in the future. This project was shared at the ARLIS/NA 2016 conference in Seattle, WA; you can see the presentation slides here.