The question has its roots in past research works Schon (1988) who emphasizes the use of technology to be a tool that completes the process of graphic design making. Schon repeatedly stated that technology like the computer was only taught as a tool to be used by the graphic designer and the tool itself did not complete the needed necessities in the graphic design space for professional design works. However, in current times, this is not the case.
At one end, the design techniques of current times are altered by the use of computers and technology (Allen, 2012). The internet has changed the way technology is used. The fundamentals taught in a graphic design curriculum had changed because of technology. Graphic design is now appealing to an overlapping segment of graphic designers and computer software specialists. The end user is also empowered as they can now just download templates instead of hiring a graphic designer. The roles of the graphic designer are empowered, however, strict demarcations between graphic and web designers are dissolving. Given this context, this research work hence assesses whether technology tools have made the role of the graphic designer flexible or even obsolete in some commercial situation. What form of a future does the graphic designer have in the technology empowered graphic design industry? This is the research question to be answered in order to improve opportunities for graphic design students in the future.
Qualitative research methodology is used here. Qualitative data is needed as the research work needs to collect data from graphic designers themselves. In order to understand the role graphic designers played, the researcher intends to use their expert opinions for assessment. Therefore, it makes sense to collect qualitative data. Quantitative empirical data is more structured and numerical in form, and would not serve the purpose of this research. Qualitative data is more opinionated, open and unstructured, which would carry the designer perspective in their words; hence it would bring better understanding to the research question. The researcher question furthermore is solvable using an interpretive in philosophy where a phenomenon is studied by studying, observing or collecting data from actors who are directly interacting with the phenomenon. The phenomenon here is the modernized, technology empowered graphic design space. The actors identified are the graphic designers. Therefore, it follows logically that they are in the best position to share data for analysis.
The research tool used for collection of data is a focus group. A focus group was selected for the following reasons. Firstly, primary data collection is often considered as being very time consuming. Using a focus group would be easier to collect graphic designers or graphic design students like myself in one collective space. Secondly, the use of the focus group will be helpful for better sharing of open unstructured information (Patton, 2005). The researcher would act as a facilitator or moderator in the situation and just assist the participants to speak out their opinions more frankly (Morse & Field, 1995). The responses would be open ended pertaining to the topic and these responses would hence be more frank and more honest. In the context of any other form of data collection, there would have been constraints in terms of the data that was presented, like constraints in choices (in the case of the interview method).
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