This semester break allows us the chance to look back over and reflect on the first semester. For me, one of the most noticeable things is my growing confidence in my (potential) abilities in both the graphic design and the technical aspects of the course.
Its true that we haven't quite started on the most technical aspects, such as writing in XHTML and using CSS, but we have covered crucial areas such as setting up a website through a shared web hosting provider, using a control panel to upload images, setting up web mail and accessing this using outlook express (or the 'mac' equivalent). This was all completely new to me as I have never set up a website before, so it was quite a steep learning experience.
As I have just mentioned we are about to embark on our first (for most of us) journey into Markup Languages, and I was probably more anxious about this aspect of the course than any other. However having read a few chapters of HTML Dog (a few times in some parts) and also looking at the online help at W3C Schools, I am now looking forward to 'having a go' which the practical side of next semester should necessitate.
My familiarity with some of the industry standard software has also developed, and I am looking forward to developing more skills over the next semester with an assignment which covers imaging and Photoshop techniques. This will involve a presentation which may fill a lot of the students with dread. Whilst I expect to get a bit nervous I know from experience that we will all be in the same boat and that preparation will go a long way to calming the nerves.
One of the often tricky aspects of the course is the annotation of our inspiration work for the sketchbooks, which - it is important to remember - is a crucial part of an ongoing assignment. I am gradually finding it easier to annotate and describe why I find most of the pieces inspiring, useful or interesting, and I think this has been aided by listening to other students describing their inspiration during the weekly group seminars. The proces is perhaps a good way for students from more technical I.T. backgrounds become familiar with visual skills and techniques.
The sketchbook annotation is also useful in providing a starting point for debate and to help some students gain confidence in talking out in a group meeting situation. I realise that whilst my descriptive writing is advancing there is still some way to go and I need to keep making plenty of effort with it.
I am relieved to hear from our tutor that the most theoretical assignments of the first year are over and in the next semester we can look forward to more practical based study, where we be seeing the relevance of what we have already learnt. I am hoping that by the end of this academic year I will have designed and produced my first web page complete with web authoring in XHTML and CSS.