Teaching has been as integral to the development of my work as my research experiences, drawing installation projects or
Whether the topic is drawing or web design, for me the teaching process begins
by identifying key concepts that are truly challenging, interesting and useful.
Not only does this test my own understanding of the topic, but all the assignments
and lesson plans for a course will need to support these concepts. These are the
things that the students will learn. This is not so different from how I begin a
project in the studio: what is it about this idea or concept that I really want
to submerge myself in? What are the important parts?
When it comes to the classroom, it's my job to provide context for these ideas.
By context, I mean explaining why these concepts are important things to know and
understand. This can mean making connections to art history or it can mean describing
the place a certain computer skill might have in a professional setting. Or it can
mean breaking a problem into smaller steps in order to reveal the mechanics and meaning
of a process or method.
It's also my job to give assignments that create opportunities to learn important
basic skills. I really believe that certain ideas are more easily learned through
the hands and that certain people think more fluidly through action. In the visual
arts (both digital and traditional studio arts), this type of learning is often done
out in the open, in full view. Giving people the chance to see others try, fail, succeed
and invent is sometimes the most effective time in the classroom. I cannot take credit
for the spirit of ingenuity that can take over at times, but I can try to create the
opportunities for this to take place.
The combination of context and practice gives students the chance to link thinking with doing.
It also gives them the tools to make and solve their own creative problems. When I teach I
try to build situations where people can learn that the questions they ask can reveal as
much as about their thoughts as the answers they eventually come up with in the end.
Publications related to teaching
Snyder, J., Heckman, R., & Scialdone, M. (2009). Information Studio: An Arts-Based Approach to Educating Technical Professionals. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST): Perspectives on Design, ed. Kathi Martin and Sam Hastings, 60(9), 1923-1932.
Heckman, R., & Snyder, J. (2008). The Role of the Arts in an I-School Education. Proceedings of the iConference 2008: iFutures: Systems, Selves, Society, February 28-March 1, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.