Teaching

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

― Pablo Picasso

My interest in teaching stemmed from my consulting practice as I came to realize how similar the two professions can be. Helping clients apply established concepts to unique challenges is ultimately very similar to helping groups of students learn those concepts in the first place. I view teaching as the opportunity to share the “rules” with new audiences; consulting is knowing when to break them in order to achieve specific outcomes.

I have had opportunities to teach classes for students of all ages, from young children up through graduate students, across a wide range of topics. Below is a sampling of the courses I’ve designed and taught in recent years:

Art classes for adults
In January 2020, I hosted a small art workshop titled “Mixed-Media Collage.” I hope to run another one post-pandemic! In the mean time, if you are interested in online workshops or one-on-one art instruction, please let me know.

Graduate courses at Portland State University

As an adjunct instructor in the Technical and Professional Writing graduate program at PSU, I have introduced new design-centric coursework to complement the program’s core offerings.

Document design
Course description: From simple brochures to formally bound manuals, corporate slide decks to database-driven websites, documents are pervasive in our lives. As technical and professional communicators, it is critical that we not only understand our relationships with documents (both as consumers and creators), but reflect upon how these relationships continue to evolve and recognize how they shape our work and our users’ perceptions of the documents we create. Over the course of the term, we will take a balanced approach to documents and their design, exploring theoretical frameworks that inform our understanding of documents, as well as applying practical concepts to develop students’ professional portfolios.

Design Tools for technical writers
Course description: Expand your technical communication problem-solving skill set by learning how to complement your writing with effective visuals. Students will learn how to create and manipulate simple vector graphics, first in Microsoft PowerPoint and then in Inkscape (an open-source alternative to Adobe Illustrator). Along the way, we will explore basic design and visual communication concepts, troubleshooting techniques, and common considerations for leveraging graphics in technical documents.

UX Design for technical communicators
Course description: As more and more of our daily lives move online — leveraging web-based applications, mobile devices, and “smart” technology — the line between technical communication and user experience (UX) design becomes increasingly blurred. In this course, we will use technical communication as our starting point for exploring the role of UX design, how it’s defined, and how it is commonly practiced in industry. We will examine what makes a UX design effective and practice basic design and usability principles through hands-on design exercises.

K-12 after-school enrichment classes

What began as an interest in volunteering at my kids’ schools became a broader interest in sharing art and STEM topics with elementary and middle-school kids.

LEGO robotics
Provide guidance to middle school students as they complete robotics challenges using LEGO kits and the Mindstorms development environment, culminating in the annual FIRST LEGO League robotics competition

Modern art masters
View modern artworks, discuss modern artists’ use of color and form, and create projects inspired by Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and other styles

Caldecott copycats
Introduce students to Caldecott Award-winning picture books, discuss what makes the illustrations unique, and then lead them in related art projects