my first syllabus

On Wednesday, I held my first workshop, which was on Paper Gardens at Paper Source. I guess that I have actually had other teaching experiences in the past: as a graduate student, Sunday School teacher, camp leader, birthday party leader and demonstration expert. However this was the first time that I created a hand-out for my event. I was quite pleased with how it turned out.

I spent the past few weeks getting comfortable with the paper flower kits and discussing key points with the manager. One of the keys of teaching the workshop is to cover ideas of variations and how to go beyond the kit instructions. As with any new medium, I found the more that I worked with the materials, the easier it was for me to grow comfortable and begin thinking of new ideas. That was the case with the bluebell boutonniere you see above. It was my favorite project from all of my samples and now has me thinking about variations of paper flower projects that I want to create. To say that I have mastered the medium is a little strong. But at least I am well on my way to thinking beyond how to make the flowers to how I can go beyond.

I realized with my experience with the paper flowers that people were not going to have a lot of time to take notes. You must keep both hands filled with paper, scissors or glue at all times. (We did take a short field trip after our first flower.) Having attended Edward Tufte’s One Day Course on Presenting Data and Information, I knew that it is important to provide your audience with what you are sharing. This allows them to pay attention and not try to take notes. Plus they can walk away with all of the information that they will need to go home and continue learning about the topic. Plus as an information designer, Tufte believes that it is important to fill the entire page with information in an aesthetically pleasing way. No need to waste space in a typical outline format. Fill it up! Create columns. Include thumbnail images. Make people want to spend time studying the information and continue to explore. As an expert in a field, share the information so that they will save your handouts and remember it. Less paper is more. If you can get it all on to one sheet, perfect. If necessary, expand to an 11″ x 17″ sheet folded to 8.5″ x 11″.

I personally prefer using a landscape 8.5″ x 11″ format, as seen here. I have intentionally kept the image small. You will have to register for my next class in order to see the full size syllabus. I also plan to use a similar format for our future MerriMail issues.

Everyone should incorporate design principles in their work. You have spent many hours toiling away on your latest project. You want it to look good. Play around with Word and move beyond Times New Roman. You will be surprised with the response you receive. You may even get promoted! Or go a step further and see if your work will pay for you to take Tufte’s course. You will receive copies of his fabulous books, which will make it worth it and of itself.

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2 Comments

  1. Renee

    I bought a paper flower kit at the Paper Source store in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. Your blog has inspired me to actually open the package and start crafting. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. firstborn

    hello,

    i actually found you through “agap”…& saw that you have a blog…thank you for this very helpful post>>>esp. about having an aesthetically pleasing hand-out…that has always been my “thing” that i intuitively strive for & you put that in writing! thanks for doing that…

    it’s always inspiring to read about people who go out there & follow their bliss…congrats on your website!
    & happy travels to london!

    🙂 mary ann, also agap & blogger…

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