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A designer’s journey into teaching and meeting new challenges in professional development

As an artist and designer who was disenfranchised with working in the commercial world, with its eternal quest for more profit and fake food shoots
(it’s a long story but never believe what you see in food ads), I had taken the step to rise to a new challenge and give something back by going into education and teaching.

Moving from the commercial world to that of the classroom was certainly an eye-opener and kept me extremely busy and amused, I didn’t realise how much fun students could be and what satisfaction could be gained from sharing your skills and knowledge with them.

As the terms, then years, rolled by in an all-consuming whirl, I began to appreciate the importance of maintaining my own professional development in order to stay on top of technical developments in my industry. In my case, it was the swift move in the early 1990’s from ‘analogue’ creative work into the realm of all things digital such as raster graphics editing (which sounded like a niche musical genre but quickly became known as Photoshop), digital photography and the use of computers to create artwork, layouts and desktop publishing, previously the preserve of a whole range of individuals with very specific skill sets. Not to mention personal computers becoming a ‘thing’, hard to believe now but very few people had them back then.

I quickly saw that if I didn’t stay in touch with the rapid technology changes that were occurring, I would get left behind in my job and lose touch with industry standards. I realised how important it was to maintain CPD both for my own benefit and that of my students. It wouldn’t have been fair to them and their future job prospects and it certainly wasn’t going to help mine if I buried my head in the sand and stayed within my skills comfort zone.

With the writing on the wall, I embraced the change and embarked on some courses and a new self- directed voyage of technology discovery. It certainly felt like a voyage when I unwrapped my freaky looking iMac Bondi and started to put into practice the new design technology that was beginning to shape the landscape.

As a way forward and whilst keeping a foot in the door of industry by maintaining my own design work and projects, I continued to move around in education, working across all sectors until I recognized once again the need for change because fast forward 20 plus years and we find ourselves on the brink of another wave of design and technology change with the advent of additive manufacturing, robotics, electronics and 3D design.

With a desire to keep myself interested and challenged I came to work for BCA as a trainer and education advisor. It has allowed me to get to grips with some new technology and when writing and delivering some of the course materials, I have been able to use my years of experience to help shape them in a way that they can be easily assimilated by teachers and students. I feel this is important because as an educator you recognise the value of making materials accessible in order to allow learning to place when otherwise it can appear daunting. a

In order to be at the forefront of some of the huge changes that are happening right now in education and the design and manufacturing industries, it is so important as a teacher to be able to equip yourself with up to date knowledge of your subject so that you can be authentic in your teaching and ‘stay in the game’ for yourself and your students benefit. I think that taking the first step and signing up for a course is a great way to go, you never know where it will lead you but it will mean you won’t get left behind!