Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to start?

Start by reading everything the site has to offer for your course of study. The course notes are particularly important. I would probably make a hard copy of the main course notes, learning activities and assessment tasks. After that, commence reading. You should have received your main course readings in hard copy by now so start there. But keep an eye on the learning and assessment requirements throughout the semester because often tasks change and you need to keep abreast of things.

What is the best way to use discussion boards?

Discussion boards are the tutorial spaces on-line. They are where you make your contribution to the shared knowledge of the group and where debate begins. It is best to contribute early, frequently and succinctly. Big essays do not read well on-line but a few paragraphs are perfect. If you have more than one topic to cover, often it is best to open a new entry under the new topic. That way people can respond to your individual argument rather than to a number of them. The discussion boards are the most interactive part of the course so try and be responsive to other entries and constructive but not necessarily uncritical with your critique.

What sort of language do I use when discussing design in this course?

Because many of the readings for this course come from a discourse outside the direct area of design, you may feel that the language used is a bit impenetrable and that you have to reproduce it in your essays and answers. I would hope that you feel more relaxed about that. As you become more familiar with the specialized terms being used you can start using them, but until then, it is only safe to use words that you do know and feel comfortable with, so that you are sure about what you are trying to say. This doesn't mean that what you say is any more glib or imprecise. Remember that a lot of what we are concerned with in this unit is fine detail and that we must try to develop language that can discuss things at that level.

What do I do if I can't understand the texts?

It is always a good policy to have a good quality dictionary available when doing both your readings (to translate or define terminology) and your writing or responses. I do this and have had to keep up this practice throughout my postgraduate study. If it is still a problem (and I don't envisage this coming up very much) then use the discussion group to get others to clarify points you are having trouble with yourself. If you are still having trouble, try rewriting the text in your own language with the help of the dictionary. Specialist terminology ceases to be intimidating once you are familiar with it.

How is time structured in this course?

Modules 1 and 2 are expected to run for four weeks each, with five allocated for the essay-writing in Module 3. This will mean (roughly) that you will have to give yourself time to cover at least a lecture a week. Module 2 will need to be condensed more than that. If discussion boards are the main form of activity requested, then they should take place within the time period roughly allocated for that module.

Am I expected to do all the readings?

Not necessarily that is entirely your decision. There are some key readings, however, that should at least be acknowledged in your answers, but the breadth of reading is entirely up to you. We have done our best to source on-line readings, but I am not claiming that this is exhaustive, and you may well be able to add to our lists. Otherwise you may have to source readings at local major or academic libraries, which would be a big help. Contact the RMIT Central Library if you cannot source particular texts locally, as you have a right to a certain number of items to be sent to you free-of-charge per unit of study.

Do I have to footnote sources?

Most definitely. Writing at this level must always be fastidious about crediting sources of information, regardless of whether you are making direct quotes or referring to ideas raised in other sources. This is something you must do to avoid plagiarism (that greatest of academic crimes), but you should also realize that it is something that gives much greater credibility to your text because it allows your ideas to adopt some of their authority through being linked to that greater discourse.

How do I credit sources?

Follow the style guide provided through the Master of Design homepage.

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