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Learning logs – Changing the way you work

Following on from Julia’s recent post I thought I would write a post about my own experience as an OCA student and my struggles with keeping a learning log. If I would have had the opportunity to read Julia’s post before I started the course it would have been a great resource in knowing where to start with it all and what to write about, well worth a read! Here is my experience of being a student:
I have finally completed my Graphic Design course. There have been aspects that I thoroughly enjoyed and aspects that I couldn’t wait until they were over. As the graphic designer at OCA my job mainly entails layout, so because I was familiar with this, I enjoyed the exercises that allowed me to put skills I already had to use. The typography exercises put me out of my comfort zones so I had to work harder on these to get them right. I do feel like I’ve improved over the duration of the course and I have learnt a lot because I have had to get to grips with Photoshop and Illustrator which I had limited knowledge of previously. I feel more confident as a designer and I feel that doing this course has had a positive impact on my job.
Learning log
However one of the major aspects I struggled with (having come from a fine art background at a conventional university) was self reflection; I didn’t have to keep a learning log on my previous degree because we had group critiques so I found self reflection challenging and half way through the course I had to change the way I kept a learning log. I started out with a physical note book which I just wasn’t using enough so my tutor advised me to play to my strengths and design my learning logs in InDesign (my preferred software of choice) and export them as a PDF. I enjoyed doing this, and because I enjoyed it, it didn’t feel like such a task reflecting and writing about my own work.
So as I found, don’t get disheartened if the way you are working doesn’t suit or work out how you imagined. Even if you are halfway through the course you don’t have to stick with a method that isn’t working. OCA courses are designed to help you develop and find your own artistic voice and ways of working. As long as you document it and can explain why you’ve done something, that’s half the battle.
Learning log Even though I found quite a few aspects of this course difficult and challenging I think I have overcome my problems, learnt a lot, and have been able to develop as a designer. I’m looking forward to getting my feedback from assessment and continuing my studies on the Book Design course.

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Posted by author: Leanne Putt
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7 thoughts on “Learning logs – Changing the way you work

  • Glad to find another InDesign based learning log creator! I have always done mine there because I battle with other apps, but InDesign is my daily working practice, so it’s more intuitive and less frightening for me. I printed mine through Blurb for TAOP and find I am constantly referencing resources that I stuck in there.

  • InDesign is my daily working practice also, so it makes sense to work to your strengths. It would be interesting to hear how other students keep their learning logs.

    • An interesting post Leanne (and thank you for the positive comments on my earlier learning log piece!). It is great to read about how your confidence has grown and the development of your reflective voice.

  • I think that students will find your post useful and inspirational . Let’s hope it sparks off more useful discussion around the valuable subject of learning logs…reflection is very important , especially for OCA students who are working in some degree of isolation. Learning to self critique is a valuable skill for students from any discipline.

  • A useful post Leanne.
    In my three previous courses I had written my log per hand – or more recently tediously set up a blog on WordPress, but I’m thankful that my tutor suggested that I just write it in Word and send him a printout. This works very well for both of us now and we both do not have to spend hours at the computer. At last, I have found my ideal method of working and don’t have to waste time with WordPress.
    Distance learning can be an isolating experience and the necessary peer critique on a day to day Basis (like at uni), has to be compensated by us learning to distance ourselves from our work and seeing it with a critical eye. Communicating with my log helps me gain this distance. Moreover honing skills in self critique is a good exercise to know where one stands and is vital to progress.

  • Very interesting post – thanks for sharing your ideas. Some my daily work is with wordpress – so for me the on-line logging (technical side) has not been that difficult – and actually a win-win benefit for work.I have just begun 1. year so for me it is the reflection part that is new and difficult. But I think it is wise to investigate various methods – It would seem that indesign does a nice job of mixing words and pictures (as long as they are digital) just as you would do in a note book. Inspiring. Like Sonia I also use word to take notes – especially during long and intense assessments – only to copy paste it into wordpress afterwards. For me the 100% on-line version is good as I do not live in the UK… have to limit the postage. I too am curious to hear about and learn from other ways of logging.

    • Inger, I found that it is easy to copy and paste the word document into Word press – but without Images. The images have to be inserted in separately which takes up time. That’s why I’m happy to deliver the word printouts.

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