Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson

University of South Alabama, USA

Title: Graphic Design in the Classroom: Adjusting to Educate the New Digital Generation


Matthew Johnson has been a Professor of Graphic Design at the University of South Alabama for eleven years and a designer for nearly 20. He holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Louisiana Tech University, and is an internationally awarded designer, and published children’s book author and illustrator. Matthew’s experiences in the field, as well as the classroom, allow him to present confidently regarding topics of Graphic Design and computer arts. He lives for visual gratification and the ability to create. His world revolves around visual communication and the satisfaction that comes from a piece of work well done.


During this conference presentation I would like to address those concerns when trying to bridge the gap between being an observer of visual communications and becoming an active producer of those items. I will approach the subject primarily as it relates to the design educator and their students. In order to produce a proficient, high calibre graduate who can excel in a new digital world, educators must evolve with an ever-changing population of students. With the ease of communication and shorter attention spans affecting retention abilities, changes in the classroom setting are inevitable. The way in which information is relayed must reflect a culture where learning styles have become more interactive. We are faced with an educational pendulum that is swinging away from the lecture-and-examination style of teaching. Changes can come from anywhere along the broad spectrum of course elements. They range from small techniques to complete overhauls in classroom dynamic and management. Pulling from eleven years of personal experience in higher education I will introduce the following:


• Rethinking course structures through policies and objectives

• Team based learning through collaborative design work

• Transitioning from a print based classroom to a more digital environment

• Making visual changes to keep your materials fresh

Emphasis will be put on personal alterations that will help to rebuild a classroom into one that develops an unshakeable passion for graphic design and computer arts. An educator should feel confident that they are fueling a dedication to art and computer based creativity. Although this presentation is not centered specifically on interactive design or motion graphics it does touch on the core of Graphic Design, specifically those individuals who will influence the future of the field. Understanding the new audience is crucial to growing a stronger graphic designer and, in turn, a field that remains relevant.

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