A Year Using Concepts at St Cyres School

with Damian Parker, Head of Art and Design Technology

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We’ve seen so many photos of exceptional work and smiling faces tweeted by Apple Distinguished St Cyres School that we wanted to congratulate them on a year well done. But the reward for us was this insightful look from Damian Parker (Head of Art and Design Technology Faculty) into how iPads and Concepts have really made a difference to the students, from their design work to artwork to after school activities. The teachers at St Cyres actively provide great resources and an even greater education, and you can see these students have a very bright future ahead!

amian Parker: Starting the new school year in September at St Cyres was very exciting. We had purchased 200 licenses to use Concepts within our Art | Design Technology Faculty, and had put plenty of research in over the summer holidays as to what was achievable with the app. My aim for the year was to fully integrate digital sketching into the Faculty, with our main focus being our 6th form students.

Fortunately for us this year, we had an industrial design undergraduate student, Abbie Keen, working with our students the whole year. We purchased another iPad Pro and swiftly got Abbie up to speed with Concepts. Abbie is a very talented designer who quickly developed her own style using the app.

We arranged Digital Design sessions with our 6th form students outside lessons, and developed a range of introductory tutorials to get the students started. To encourage the students we awarded monthly trophies for the most improved use of the app, and shared on Twitter.

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Students soon started using the app for their own design projects, and were regularly using the technology to add design ideas into their coursework. During lessons, Abbie and I loaned out the iPad Pros to students to use with the Apple Pencil with amazing results. The impact on the standards of work produced was incredible. The standard of sketching was clearly improving, and students who had previously struggled with drawing techniques were soon producing high quality sketches.

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Digital Design Club

As a Year 7 learning coach, I was fortunate to have a form class who were very keen to develop new skills and embrace new technologies. As a 1:1 school, all pupils have an iPad to work on throughout the day and to take home. Abbie arranged an after school Digital Design Club with members of my form designed to develop the use of Concepts on their iPads. Using the tutorials provided by Concepts, students quickly developed their digital sketching skills.

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Students now naturally reach for a stylus and the iPad when asked to design any tasks in subject areas, making Concepts a great tool for creativity across the school.

Teaching & Learning

To further develop my own skills, I set myself a challenge of becoming totally paperless this year. All class demonstrations and discussions had to be taught through Concepts using the iPad. I was curious to see how teaching traditional methods to students through the iPad would work.

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Starting with Year 7 students, I taught shading and drawing techniques for them to follow in the same way as before, only now using the iPad and Concepts. Results were really pleasing, as all students understood the techniques demonstrated and could produce the task in their workbooks using pencil and paper.

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In a short space of time I found myself very comfortable using the iPad to sketch and draw with pupils during lessons. Making notes for projects with pupils could easily be mailed for future reference, and ideas could be quickly produced on the spot. For lesson plans and staff meetings, I was producing sketch notes and organizing workflow into separate folders.

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Impact

With our main focus on training and embedding digital sketching across the Faculty, we have developed a range of tutorial iBooks to help students understand the tools in Concepts and most importantly the use of layers. The following two iBooks are available now for download (feel free to try them!) and others will be published later this year for other teachers to use.

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A design iBook created by Damian Parker focusing on line drawing, layering and coloring.
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An iBook coloring book designed and illustrated by Abbie Keen.
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Students are also using the app in our Art department, drawing everything from portraits to cartoon characters.

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We cannot believe how successfully our students have taken to using Concepts. If they are producing work of this standard now, then the future looks very bright for these young designers and artists.

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Update 6.20.18: A third iBook to the St Cyres design series was just published featuring pop art activities, backgrounds, symmetry and coloring exercises for your line drawings. Please download this free iBook and enjoy it!

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Damian Parker qualified from university with a degree in Product Design, then furthered his studies to qualify as a teacher of Design Technology. He has taught at St Cyres School in Wales for over 22 years. Throughout his time at St Cyres, he has successfully led many initiatives within the Design Technology department, with the main focus of engaging pupils in the field of design. He is now Head of Faculty with responsibility for Art, Design Technology and Photography. He has held this position for the last 6 years, facing many challenges and changes along the way. He has thoroughly enjoyed his role as Head of Faculty, and through the hard work of his staff feel they are in the strongest place since his appointment.

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Interview by Erica Christensen — Director of Community at TopHatch

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