Vlahos, Dan. The Education of a Communication Designer. Boston, 2017.

The Education of a Communication Designer was my master’s thesis book submitted to The Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) in 2017. This 200 page volume largely documents a series of seven case studies. Each of the seven case studies are also presented as video abstracts—which are listed below.

  1. Isabella: A Dramatized Digital Personification, 2015.
  2. MetaPieces: An Interactive Art Making Table, 2015.
  3. Fingering Randomizer for Bb Trumpet: An Interactive Multimodal Learning and Performance Environment, 2016.
  4. The Perfect Character: A Typographic Film Character Creation Tool, 2016.
  5. Critiquemate: A System for Exploring Critique Methods and Managing Feedback, 2016.
  6. Lecturemate: A Multimodal System for Viewing and Understanding Lectures, 2016.
  7. Studiomate: A Peer-to-Peer Help System for Studio Communities, 2016.

The Education of a Communication Designer explores and evaluates new tools, systems, and heuristics for teaching and learning in the arts and beyond. Through these learning experience (LX) design-based investigations, I speculatively re-imagine and re-contextualize the relationship between learners, educators, and peers within a range of learning environments. Drawing inspiration from Professor Gunner Swanson’s essay, “Design and Knowledge in the University and the ‘Real World,’” all seven case studies are guided by a set of four interrelated themes: communication, expression, interaction, and cognition, which according to Swanson represent four broad areas that graphic design could bridge. The book is currently available in the following formats:

PDF Download (Free)
Hardcover ($49.47 USD) from Blurb

Throughout my thesis I continually re-examine “graphic design” and place it in the broader context of “communication design”—a comprehensive field that posits a wider range of media, disciplines, technologies, and applications. Much of the research and inspiration for my thesis is derived from Steven Heller’s 2015 anthology The Education of a Graphic Designer to which the title of this thesis alludes. By replacing Graphic with Communication, I am largely acknowledging a personal shift from the strictly “graphic” (mainly designing visual artifacts) to a wider practice of designing experiences, interactions, and systems. While the experiences, interactions, and systems that I have explored here primarily focus art, design and creative learning, one can easily imagine how these multimodal interactive learning techniques could be used as broader assistive learning tools, or as catalysts for interdisciplinary communication and collaboration.


Joseph Quackenbush, Professor, Thesis Seminar I
Lisa Rosowski, Professor, Thesis Seminar II
Jan Kubasiewicz, Professor, Thesis Project I & II

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