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Course spotlight: Talking With Impact

Greg Germann

Greg Germann

It’s an honor to welcome new instructor, Greg Germann, to the Design Communication Arts program! Greg is an actor known for his work on film, television and Broadway. He’s a published playwright and has also written and directed for the theatre and television. He was honored to be invited twice be part of a goodwill trip traveling to Afghanistan to visit troops serving there. For over a decade he has had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for OPCC (now OPCC-LAMP) in Los Angeles, a visionary social service organization. For the past three years, he’s worked with TEDx UCLA as an advisor, assisting in speaker selection and preparation for the annual conference.

Greg is teaching Talking With Impact this winter.

What brought you to this field?

For the past three years I’ve helped prepare a range of speakers for the annual TED TALK held at UCLA.  I’ve been able to work with artists, psychologists, archeologists, designers, activists and more, conceiving, crafting and honing their talks for the greatest impact.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

TEDxUCLA speaker and OPCC director John Maceri, mentored by Greg Germann

TEDxUCLA speaker and OPCC executive director, John Maceri, mentored by Greg Germann

My work with TED speakers has made it clear that there are no limitations for what constitutes a ‘big idea’ that can change the world.  TED speakers have talked about vulnerability, the brain, the heart, education, travel, planting trees, running, sleep, consciousness, what makes us laugh and cry and even life and death.  It’s exciting to embrace the possibility that ‘ideas worth spreading’ take any shape and can be about any thing.

Why is your course, Talking for Impact, important for my Design education?

Everyone has a ‘TALK’ in them.  The skills necessary in communicating these ideas makes all the difference. Using the model of a TED TALK is a powerful tool that will unearth the ‘big idea’ that lies in wait for each student in our class. As an actor, director and writer with a career in theatre, film and television my experience has taught me again and again that economy and empathy are just a few keys to connecting with and moving an audience.

TEDxUCLA speaker Victoria Young

TEDxUCLA speaker Victoria Young

The intentional weaving of passion, expertise and innovation insures that an entrepreneur pitching a new product, an archeologist sharing field observations, a designer promoting the value of a concept, a writer selling an idea, a lawyer making his/her case, an educator broadening a students understanding all will succeed in moving their listeners and changing their lives. I’ve seen the surprising impact speakers have on an audience when the idea expressed is concise and challenges the experts while still being understandable to a 5th grader.  Speaking with impact results in provoking understanding and upending the expectations of your listener.

We’ll start simply and work our way to the ‘big idea’ that lies in wait for each student. The first step is recognizing the ‘big ideas’ that we encounter everyday.  From the brilliance of a bumper sticker, a political slogan, branding, the power of a provocative 140 character Twitter post and even the unexpected impactful daily exchanges we have with our colleagues, friends and family. Students will identify these common examples illustrating how they meet the criteria, not just of a catchy slogan, but how they upend expectations, innovate and promote an idea worth sharing.

Do you have a sample assignment?

TEDxUCLA speaker Adi Jaffe

TEDxUCLA speaker Adi Jaffe

The Wisdom of the Twitter Feed:

In 140 characters or less articulate the “big idea” behind three varied areas of study or endeavor.  Topics may range from, artworks; visual, performing arts and literature: To design; architecture, engineering and product design: To science and even the value of certain types of behaviors. Some of the most popular TED TALKS online are  on the value of vulnerability, the power of introverts and the science of happiness.

One example is a devoted runner asked; Can running save our cities? His answer was his big idea; Building community with shared physical activity can change the world. The skill to articulate your vision in a sentence is one of the many tests of the viability and clarity of your vision.

 

Welcome, Greg!

Enroll in Talking With Impact today!

Check Out Aneesha Bharadwaj’s Innovative Sensing Design

When Aneesha stopped by the office and shared her latest design from Henry Mateo’s Design II: Collateral Communication course, our director said, “You have to put that on the blog!” I’ve seen many final projects from this course and this, without a doubt, is the most innovative I’ve ever seen. We especially love how Aneesha boldly embraces the emerging sensing technology.

Aneesha writes:

Carpe Energia is a fictional event with the concept, ‘seize the energy’. Active and engaging for its audience, I made it interactive by using motion sensors with LED’s.

The LED’s respond in a gentle fashion to stimulus provided by human interaction. They light up as I wave my hand in front of the sensors- a slight twinkling ripple that spreads out to other areas as it dissipates. The effect is a like touching a pool of water into an overall gentle rippling, and eventually settles down.
The poster is powered with a 24V power supply. I have covered the LED’s with Duralar paper and cut out holes for the senors.

The Type Treatment- event information on the left is screen printed (white ink) directly on the black board.

Excellent work!

Rebranding our Shame

Of all the 2015 TedxUCLA talks, the one I felt our DCA students would benefit from the most was Adi Jaffe’s talk, “Rebranding our Shame.” Jaffe shares intimate details of his less-than-savory previous life, a life that could have left him branded many negative words forever (I won’t spoil his powerful storytelling by sharing what some of those are).

Many of our DCA graduates go on to help clients take a fresh look at their branding and create new identity systems. I’ve personally felt my preexisting notions about, for example, a “cheap but cheerful” LA restaurant transform as I’ve perused a new logo, storefront, menu, and takeout packaging created by one of our students. The design communications arts can be an extremely powerful tool for shaping how we feel about almost anything, including other people.

Watch Adi Jaffe challenge us to reconsider how we brand one another:

 

Interview with Instructor Chris Becker

DesignThinking 1
Chris Becker will be teaching Design Thinking II this upcoming Summer 2015 quarter. He’ll bring creativity, insight, and develop unique visions with all who join him in this exciting class.

We talked to Chris about his work, his class and his advice for the would-be UX Designers and beyond.

chris becker

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

As a UX Designer / Interaction Designer / Design Researcher / Educator, my practice has been focusing on the interplay between systems (websites, app platforms, software & learning systems) and design / design education. I have been using the design thinking process as a foundation for which all of my work stems. By leaning on the process I have been able to show my clients and my class rooms that design is not only fun but has ability to be innovative and necessary.

I am currently working with early stage startup: a neuroscience based brain mentoring platform called mymntr.com out of San Francisco and have started on a responsive website redesign of a major university in Colorado.

Can you describe your Design Thinking II class that you will be teaching in Summer?

Design Thinking II will take a deeper dive into the design thinking process. We will be exploring and improving our design thinking methodology through 3 distinct design thinking cycles. 1 short cylce, 1 medium cycle, and one long cycle. Since design thinking is a way of approaching problem solving, this course will engage your critical making, out of the box thinking, creativity, and prototyping skills. All along the way we will be improving our ability to develop insights and forage through an iterative innovation cycle with a goal of producing clear and unique solutions at varying levels of finish from sketching to working prototypes.

The DTII course is built on a workshop based interaction which will require highly collaborative discussions, in class testing of ideas, and lively brainstorming / insight gathering & problem definitions. Students will leave with an nuanced knowledge of the design thinking process and 12 weeks of practice and documentation of using the methodology for solving design problems.

Design-is-a-process

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

Design Thinking 2 students will walk away with a growing confidence in using the design thinking methodology as well as 3 projects that illustrate their usefulness and problem solving abilities. Furthermore they will grow their ability to articulate and document the design thinking process and show how they move from insight gathering through problem solving prototyping.

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing User Experience Design or a related Design field as a profession?

Some advice.
Try not to be defined by deliverables like wireframes or sitemaps. The “oh you make wireframes syndrome” diminishes the vast umbrella of impact a User Experience Designer can think about inside any company or system.

Concentrate on and show how human centered design methodologies can improve business and the impact of experience on your users.

User Experience is a relatively new and growing field of practice and it needs to be internalized by industry from a foundational perspective so be part of showing how and why it matters. Then go out and make awesome stuff.

Enroll in his Summer class Here

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