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Top 3 Tips for Cross-College Design Collaboration

Engage your design students & help them develop their creative networks


The knowledge gained from design school is invaluable, but the network built is equally important. The more diverse perspectives students can learn from during their college experience, the more well-rounded designers they will be, capable of designing for a wider array of audiences. While many universities are making a concerted effort to create diversity within their student population, the benefits of regionally diversified student bodies, learning similar concepts yet under different circumstances, cannot be understated.


The problem is - in today's world - just gathering one group of students together for a live zoom critique session is a challenge, but gathering multiple groups together - especially across class schedules at different universities and time zones - can be harder than having students memorize every font family in Adobe fonts...alphabetically...backward.


Plus, it's not like design educators aren't busy enough already to try and figure out how to facilitate multi-school collaboration with the best tools, the right teams, and the most relevant topics.


Thankfully, we thought through each of those components for you. Here's our three step guide to start collaborating with other design classes at schools across the country, and world.


Cross-school collaboration starts with using the right tool, team, and topic.


( 1 ) The Tool


👎 Video Chats (not recommended): While Zoom is the widely accepted tool for synchronous communication, the logistics to not only align schedules, but also keep a group of 2+ classes engaged with each other, are intimidating to even the most seasoned Zoom breakout zoom facilitator. Thankfully, there are asynchronous options...


👎 Infinite whiteboard spaces (not recommended): Miro, Mural, and Google Jamboard provide great flexibility for customizing how information is organized, and it's easier to share links to a common collaborative space across university emails than it is on an LMS. The challenge is that the spaces quickly become cluttered with multiple iterations of multiple projects and critiques from multiple classes, and the projects often lack critical context when collaborating with students in a different program.


🙌 Creative Critique (top recommendation): Creative Critique offers team spaces that you can custom-create filters for to keep classes and topics organized. Your students can also upload multiple iterations of the same project, so you can easily see the progression of their work based on the critiques they received at each stage of the project. You can also record your screen and audio while annotating the graphic, providing the personal touch that video chats offer, without the logistics of coordinating schedules.



( 2 ) The Team - Leverage National Design Communities


🙌 Professional Design Associations (top recommendation): Groups like the AIGA, UCDA, RGD, and others all have local chapters across North America, each other design educator members and student member programs. Plus, these communities are easily accessible, and many chapters have board members specifically focused on education and partnerships. You can find a list of AIGA chapters HERE.


🙌 Educator Social Networks (recommended): There are vibrant Facebook groups and Slack channels for design educator resource sharing and collaboration. Two of our favorite groups are: Online Art & Design Studio Instruction in the Age of "Social Distancing" and AIGA Design Educators Community - Discussions.

Making a post and explaining that you want to collaborate with another class on critiques this semester is sure to create valuable connections.



( 3 ) The Topic - Relevant Cultural Concepts


Once you have your preferred tool, and you've connected with the right team, you will need to identify an engaging topic.


👎 Design for a hypothetical company (not recommended): There are so many worthy causes in need of quality design, and willing to work with burgeoning designers, and students will be more engaged in working with real clients, not to mention that real clients create a better portfolio story than a hypothetical prompt.


🙌 Design around awareness for a social issue your students are passionate about (recommended): Letting students identify a social issue they want to stand for will help them recognize the power that design has to influence culture, and it will help them refine and discuss their opinions on issues that matter. Just as important as their ability to define their beliefs will be their ability to learn about the beliefs of others in a non-judgmental way. Students can learn design and how to apply it to change society at the same time.



🙌 Design for a local small business or non-profit (top recommendation): You know that you don't have to drive far down the road to find poorly branded small businesses, and sites like Great Nonprofits can help you find quality nonprofits near your school. But you don't have to pick the nonprofit, you can ask students to identify their own local nonprofit to support, providing them with more ownership of the idea and more commitment to the outcome.



Summary


With the right tool, the right team, and the right topic, you can make this the most engaging and impactful semester yet for your students, connecting them with peers from universities across the country and preparing them with an expanded professional network that will serve them for the rest of their lives.



If you haven't set up Creative Critique as your tool to facilitate student critiques yet, don't miss out! Join for free today HERE.

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