BA Graphic Design

A student's front page with links to subsequent pages

A student’s front page with links to subsequent pages

Cath Caldwell (Stage Leader, BA Graphic Design Stage 1 at CSM) uses workflow as a vehicle for her students to present work for assessment in digital format, alongside a physical portfolio. She sees workflow as a safe starting point for her first year students to share their work. In subsequent years they are encouraged to present work via their own blogs or websites linked via the workflow tool.

Cath asks the students to create sections in their workflow portfolios corresponding to Units 3 and 4 in the course, which are made up of components taught and marked by a large team.

Advantages of workflow for this purpose from the students perspective include:

  • The high degree of control over privacy and selective access to work afforded by workflow is vital for those who are lacking confidence to share their work widely, or want to keep parts of their working process private.
  • Better support of display of multimedia and web-based materials than in the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. Students can embed their video projects with ease and can reference their group projects with other workflow users.
  • Workflow strikes a good balance between uniformity of layout as a starting point (for students who are not naturally digitally literate) and customisation, allowing them to progress to customisable page design as they gain confidence. This promotes student engagement with digital tools on a ‘walk before you run’ basis.
  • The addition of captions to accompany work helps students to be reflective about their learning. Students can express their design process in words within workflow text boxes. This helps them to communicate during assessment when they are not present – a tool that international students find useful.
  • As students develop they realise they need both digital and physical portfolios. Photographing 3D work to upload enables them to explore the possibilities of a modern portfolio privately, without being published on an open portfolio network.
  • When applying for internships, students can allow external visitors a glimpse of their coursework for a limited period.

Advantages of workflow from the perspectives of staff, administrators and technicians include:

  • A single space for the work of all the students. Tutors don’t have to chase all over the web to find each student’s portfolio of work. This can be useful when giving formative feedback, as you can see the work as you mark it, often a reminder at the final crit session.
  • Cath has been using workflow in association with the Visual Student Records tool in Blackboard for feedback. CLTAD developed VSR and included a link from each current student record directly into that student’s workflow portfolio profile page.
  • At first year level the uniformity of layout is useful for tutors marking large numbers of portfolios during assessments. The workflow tool can handle large groups when linked to student records.
  • In terms of parity, this tool offers assessment marking panels the only practical way of including animated content or moving image projects alongside physical portfolios.
  • When recommending students for internships or jobs, staff can refer to workflow for a source of candidates.
A student's front page with links to subsequent pages

A student’s front page with links to subsequent pages

Additional Comments:
“It all worked well once the students overcame their fear of the digital interface. It seemed rigid at first but once they got used to it, it seemed to fall into place.” – Cath Caldwell

Links: – Cath Caldwell’s account of her students’ engagement with ‘workflow’ – published on the CSM blog ‘Digital Present’.