Experience equals an adult learner’s knowledge. Different experiences create different types of learning patterns within the knowledge held by an adult learner. How is knowledge named depends on the context, designation, and identifiable characteristics. In the play W;t by Margaret Edson (1993), the context takes place in a cold, sterile hospital environment. Vivian, the protagonist and professor of poetic literature spent her life in search of knowledge and it is metaphorically seen as a shield to protect her from human emotions and compassion. In turn, throughout the play she concentrated on her learned formal knowledge which in her mind protected her from cancer and death. She recognized her knowledge through words. The experience could be seen as an experimental learning experience in her eyes that she could connect to John Donne’s poetry. It was her specializing in poetic literature that she found her identity in order to make meaning of the world around her as medical terminology and her knowledge of literature was intertwined with poetry. Vivian named her knowledge: shield.
There are similarities regarding the characters in the play. Vivian as well as Dr. Kelekian and his fellow Jason have a deep desire to learn which increased their knowledge in their field. Each professional placed the value of knowledge over people as they were absorbed in research as Jason yelled, “She’s research!” (p.82) after calling a code blue. In the name of research; mercy was disregarded as well as, humanitarism. They all recognized that knowledge equaled power. Furthermore, their actions can be seen as academic elitism between teacher and student and doctor and patient. The differences arise when Vivian finds her knowledge and identity through poetry whereas, the physicians walk a thin line of risk taking, as a human beings life is at stake, to benefit other cancer patients. Yet, they surrender Vivian’s life in the name of research. Dr.Kelekian and Jason named their knowledge: sacrifice.
The Quilts of Gee’s Benddocumentary by Badim & Arnett (2002) tells the tale of an all-African American rural community across the Alabama River. Poverty and inequality are part of life. The women of Gee’s bend identify themselves through their procedural knowledge of piecing a quilt. It was based on community incorporating past down survival techniques and traditional values. As Loretta Pettway commented, “…but I never liked it to quilt, but after I marry and have family I had no other choice because I asked people for quilts and they wouldn’t give me none and so well I’m going to make these to the best I know how [self-directed learning] and quilt’em they going to keep me and my kids warm.” It is within this self-directed learning where personal identity was formed as quilts became and outlet that included creative expression and provided comfort emotionally and physically. The context of knowledge acquired stemmed from slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, and disorder within family environments. Factual knowledge had been passed down through generations which were interwoven with cultural knowledge. These women were discarded by society and yet came together to share their knowledge of quilting with one another using discarded pieces of cloth which created skills based on their knowledge and giving new life as Jane Fonda mentioned. Spiritual, factual, conceptual, religious, and procedural knowledge were combined in the cultural values of their knowledge. These women recognized their knowledge as survival, a way to be close to god, togetherness and family. While outside their community others viewed them as artists creating historical art. The women of Gee’s Bend named knowledge: Hope.
The short story by Alice Walker (1993), Everyday Use is similar in context to Gee’s Bend. The identity changes of African Americans were prevalent as the fight for freedom was in the air. Having knowledge and respecting one’s culture and heritage played against the knowledge of formal education. The protagonist, Mama was poor, oppressed, had minimal literacy, and was uneducated but utilized her experiential knowledge to survive and feed her family by killing animals as good as a man. Dee (Wangero) distant herself from the knowledge of her culture only to depict the loss of heritage. The tension of quilts arose as Mama viewed them as memories of the people who created them, as a part valued a history in which they instilled their hearts and souls. Mama commented, “In both of them were scraps of dresses Grandma Dee had worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jattell’s Paisley shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny matchbox, that was from Great Grandpa Ezra’s uniform that he wore in the Civil War.” Dee regarded them as art to be displayed in her home. Historical and cultural knowledge were valued and recognized through the eyes of Mama whereas; formal knowledge is seen in the character of Dee. The characters of Everyday Use named knowledge as: Ethos.
Elana Michelson, professor and author of the book Globalization, Adult Education and Training reported on knowledge economy. It is in the best interest of the adult learner to provide RPL as a way of becoming self-directed and to create a more democratic civil societal view of education. The goals are to provide adult learners with employment credentials, allow employers to identify appropriately skilled workers, to assist governmental and educational institutions in identifying the needed areas of both training and retraining adult learners, and to enhance the nation’s economic edge at a time of global competition and technological changes (Edson, 1993, para. p. 141). She discussed democracy and human rights which were affected by the market and the restrictions which were implied. It would create changes, meaning the implementation of new ways to stop the oppression (racism and sexist bias) of the learner while controlling the work environment. Michelson valued knowledge because it equaled experience, but the question becomes how to assess the knowledge for credential purposes within our diverse world? Michelson recognized knowledge, experience in adult learners, and the accessing of higher learning which was needed for those who were oppressed. Definitions of skills need to be revised which included categorizing academic and vocational skills. Academic elitism was and is a challenge due to the advantaged learners versus the under advantaged resulting in power struggles in many countries. Michelson named knowledge: Equity.
In the future I will be working with adult learners and there will be many ways in which knowledge will be rewarded in my own site of practice. The rewards will be intrinsic as I develop my skills and use my knowledge to be considered a teacher. Another reward would be to train adult learners in a specified area in their field. As an educator my knowledge will be an extension of my understanding of my site of practice. I will be helping others to learn while learning myself how to problem solve for instance, in assessing knowledge of a student.
In summation, knowledge is a complex concept that incorporates understanding and familiarity through experience. There are power struggles, human rights issues, racism, sexist bias, and oppression that still exist to this day that underline the values and beliefs system. There are a multitude of different types of knowledge such as cultural, societal, procedural, and conceptual just to name a few.
By reflecting on the works read and the documentary viewed, learning opportunities for the adult learner all have context which needs to be explored and not forgotten. It is their knowledge which helps them survive in a world that is coming to grips with the challenges of what it means to be educated. Knowledge is power as the women of Gee’s Bend, the characters of W;t/Everyday Use and the article written by Michelson which all showcased its changing meaning in our complicated world.
Nothing tests creative leadership like a crisis of the unknown
It has been four years, seven months and four days since my mother’s internal organs quit a little after two AM. I have a red satin oval shaped box with a quilted top that sits on my bookshelf next to a one of a kind grayish abstract artistic urn in which her ashes lay. She was a bling, bling women and I thought it was appropriate. In the box are old photographs and her favorite perfume that permeates the air upon opening it. One picture is of her graduation from Empire State College and she was beaming. One thing I will always remember is her instilling in me the importance of education.
Growing up was like living in a war zone at times. My parents divorced when I was four years old and my single mother raised me to the best of her ability. My mother was the verbal abuser in our home. She had a hard time finding the right person and always fell in love with the wrong ones. Her patterns were simple. She always became involved in an abusive relationship which included physical, verbal, and mental cruelty. The screaming, yelling, punching, and the police being called daily was the norm.
I listened to the shouting from underneath my bed that seemed to increase in volume like someone turning a radio on full blast. I feared for life, my mother’s and mine. The bloody beatings my mother endured could be heard bouncing off every wall. I too suffered the repercussions of her failed decisions on many levels. It was with a broken heart that I viewed her. My sympathy ran deep, but it was my anger that ignited my passion for the wrongs I endured during the times when she would turn the other way when sexual abuse occurred in our home. She did nothing to stop a person from touching me.
Living with the enemy was difficult. Living with two made it even more complex. How do you create peace, ethical behavior and morality where there is none? How do you end conflicts and struggles that go beyond comprehension? To me, my voice was loud and clear as a child trying to tell my nightmare story of abuse and the need for it to stop, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears while it appeared to be never ending. I watched a documentary called, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and felt a connection with the Liberian women during the civil war and their plight for peace and equality for all human beings. Yet, at the same time I could understand the young boys with their weapons in hand using violence as the only answer to what was they thought was right.
The Liberian women also fought against two enemies, yet portrayed fearlessness in action in order to confront patriarchal commanders who were in total control during a time when it appeared there was no confidence in the future. A major concern was to not cross political lines as they were in between Charles Taylor, a brutal oppressor who was the president of Liberia and merciless Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, an organization of rebel parties trying to gain control of the country. In my case, it was not easy living with two people who wanted total control and forced different forms of abuse to achieve their goals. Helplessness is the only word to describe feelings of this nature.
One visionary leader, Leymah Gbowee told her story of how she used creative leadership and storytelling as a leader to guide hundreds of Liberian woman during the civil war and selected non-verbal demonstrations to get the message out regarding peace. In the beginning it too fell on deaf ears, to those who held the power and control in the palm of their hands. She commented that we lived in fear. You go to bed saying god please what do we do?” It was always like you go to bed and afraid that you have something different the next day. I too had similar thoughts as each new day brought a different nightmare to life in my home.
Under Gbowee’s leadership these group of women used prayer, chanting and non-violent sit-ins to meet with Charles Taylor and obtain a promise from him to attend the much needed peace talks in Ghana. The Liberian women commented how they weredetermined, and nobody going to deter us. We’re going to find a strategic point, where Taylor going to encounter us and give us some attention. And this is how we decided to sit at the fish market every day. It was their emotional turmoil, the watching of rapes and killings of the innocent that unified them and kept the fire of perseverance blazing. How does one deal with death and destruction of their inner and outer world? Either they succumb to it, bow down or fight for what is right. Gbowee led thousands of Christian and Muslim women with the strength and courage to confront their fears of the unknown making a difference and changing lives.
It was their perseverance, self-sacrifice and persuasiveness that touched others in order to become part of the greater good for all. They had the world on their shoulders as they dealt with external struggles of pain, murder, rape, starvation, and torture. Their inner fights consisted of doing what was right despite the consequences. They became unified in bringing social equality to where it was needed. Gbowee used the form of persuasion and inspiration reflecting that the women’s ethics and morality was stronger than the violence being committed. She inspired and led other women to unite against a dictator and to restore the rule of law to their country. For the first time their voices had been heard in fourteen years and they shared tears of joy instead of pain. It was one major step closer to the liberation from oppression and a great victory for all.
In my home it was the lesser of the two evils that I fought against. I remember one chilly winter’s night when I was eight years old in Walnutport PA. My mother’s boyfriend lived with us and he was an alcoholic. A horrific knock down argument took place and he slashed her throat with a fishing knife. This was not the first time I witnessed bloodshed, nor the last. I only knew violence within my home environment and reacted accordingly by attacking him from behind kicking and thrashing while my arms wrapped around his neck. I was flung up against the hard dark wood paneled wall leaving bruises not only on my body, but in my mind. I had no control over my oppressor(s). Looking back I seemed to realize at a young age that violence was not the answer as I was becoming tainted. According to Aung Sang Suu Kyi, a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy, the effort necessary to remain uncorrupted in an environment where fear is an integral part of everyday existence is not immediately apparent to those fortunate enough to live in states governed by the rule of law. I failed this task and the time had come to find a non-hostile strategy in order to bring peace and morality into our home.
I can recall at age thirteen taking a stance on what was right. Voicing my opinion that the abuse must stop. My strategy consisted of not doing my daily household chores or cleaning or cooking. It did not take long before my mother sat me down and gave me the second degree. I spoke openly regarding the abuses that had been occurring throughout the years, my thoughts and fears. Ethics and morality was on the table. It was the first time she actually listened and heard my plea. Simmons remarked, respectfully listening to someone’s story bonds you two (or thirty) together in a feeling of kinship that duplicates very old (and sacred) social rituals (188). For the first time tears of hurt and pain bonded a mother and daughter. The abuse subsided and she became more protective of me. It was a small victory in our unity, yet the pain still lingered with the anger against the enemy, my mother who looked the other way in my time of need. The job of a leader is to care about their followers. Ethical behavior is reported by Burns, Gwen, and Barbara N. Martin, “The necessity for a change in leadership is further warranted based on the need for an “ethic of caring” (Grogan, 2003, p. 25).
As the women of Liberia and I have realized our horrendous wounds may have healed on the outside, but it is our inner injuries that will last a lifetime and hopefully in time will heal too. Gbowee actively participated in the social influence process to attain a goal through trust within the group and succeeded in persuading others into the right social ethical choices to make. It was through my own personal strategy of attaining a goal, the ending of the abuse, the quiet way I tried to initiate contact with my oppressor by a slow down on chores, the introducing of a new structure in our home by opening communication which then opened the door to understanding and peace. It was these tools in creative leadership that I was able to overcome one of many crises connected with my mother.
When I was older, I alienated my mother, moved out, graduated with my Associate’s degree, and had been working towards my bachelor’s when I received a call. It was her friend stating she had been in the hospital for months and she would need home care upon being released. I am an only child. My mother suffered from severe diabetes for the last thirty years of her life. The extremes in her sugar levels appeared to go as low to 50 and shoot up to 500. She dealt with this disease and lived her life with a glucose gun always close by in case of emergency. She had a hysterectomy when she was thirty resulting in the finding of ovarian cancer and treated with experimental radiation treatments which burned all her internal organs.
Why me? I asked myself. I remember the war zone in childhood, the pain and anguish it left behind in my heart. I tried to confront my fears in order to trust again and because I did really did love my mother despite the abuse. I still feared my mother and can recall the abuse as if it were yesterday. How could I overcome the trauma and treat her with kindness? I read a speech called, “Freedom from Fear” by Aung Sang Suu Kyi, a spiritual leader who told stories of violence committed on the innocent. She spoke about how fears must be released in order to move forward, and too not only forgive your oppressor, but help those in need. It is through sacrificing, having compassion, and in trusting one another that her beliefs defined the meaning of finding the courage to take responsibility for others.
I reluctantly took the responsibility of being a primary caretaker for my mother and withdrew from all of my on line courses immediately. I moved from Oklahoma to Florida within two weeks. I was scared of my mother and feared the unknown of not only living with her again, but how to test sugar levels and administer insulin. As a child, I would run out of the room screaming, “I don’t want to see needles.” The day she entered her home after months of being hospitalized I began my researching everything I could on the internet regarding diabetes. Knowledge was power. I had to confront my fears in order to keep my mother alive and perfect new skills. Leadership relies on change. Burns noted that the transformational leader creates significant change in the lives of people and organizations. This type of leader motivates followers and changes their expectations and aspirations.” (Andreescu and Vito, 2010, 576). This journey was about to change both our lives forever.
I performed injections on a sunshine fruit. The sweet liquid oozed out at my first few attempts. The orange was my first patient. I pricked it over and over until my hands stopped shaking. I gained confidence quickly as my fears began to dissipate. Even though I honed the skill of giving shots I still stated, “I’m sorry for hurting you” every time I injected her. Compassion took precedence in this situation and self-sacrifice was a given. I put my life on temporary hold for nine months. Aung Sang Suu Kyi mentioned, at the root of human responsibility is the concept of perfection, the urge to achieve it, the intelligence to find a path towards it, and the will to follow that path if not to the end at least the distance needed to rise above individual limitations and environmental impediments. The bottom line revealed my mother, a woman who could not survive without help and my call to duty in leading the way.
The next greatest challenge was in controlling her sugar levels which had never been done in thirty years. I read Michael Useem’s story, “Eugene Kranz Returns Apollo 13 to Earth” and it discussed a leader’s story about planning and organizing a strategy to a problem that has never been dealt with in the past. I used organizational leadership as Michael Useem mentioned it being the exercising of change and development of other people (91). I needed a plan, had faith and was determined in finding the answers as to why her body was in constant extreme mode, either too high or too low. My quest began with logging everything in my own personal medical journal. I was focused on answering my own questions and finding a solution to make the situation right. The first week of recuperation I watched her eat whatever and whenever she chose. I took on the role of the laissez faire discipline in which leaders avoid involvement (para Malloy and Penprase, 2010, 716). I tested her sugars and logged them three times a day and administered the doses of insulin accordingly. I posted medications and food intake plus her nightly sneaks to the kitchen for a midnight snacks. After a week, the results were in. After reviewing all of my sources I came to the conclusion that her environment, eating junk food and overeating played a major factor. I took control of the solution the only way I could think of, to cook healthy. One week later I was able to tell her what her sugar level would be in the mornings. I explained that, “Her new environment consisted of living with me which meant new ways of controlling her diabetes.” Creating a new structure of how to live healthy promoted communication as we both learned what made her body tick. In turn, my mother told me stories of the circumstances leading up to the need of a glucose gun and what would occur prior to the event. I learned what to look for and to be more observant in her behaviors. Storytelling is significant in relation to leadership and is a social activity in which communication can teach/learn, share knowledge, discuss dilemmas/crises and solve problems as Medina commented, Wenger extends this idea in saying that leadership is essentially a social activity and can best be learnt in “a community of practice”, where engagement in social practice is the fundamental process by which we learn and so become who we are (75).We came together, inspired one another and shared our knowledge to obtain a life goal.
I ventured into the unknown, confronted my fears, made decisions based on research and persevered to make positive changes resulting in keeping my mother alive. As Useem commented, the almost incredible feat of a safe return would have been impossible were it not or the steady nerves, courage and great skill of the astronauts themselves and the NASA network whose teams of experts performed miracles of emergency improvisation (93).
Nine months drifted by of playing the Florence Nightingale role and the time had come for me to leave. I picked up where I left off with my education and immediately applied for the up and coming semester. All was well for three months and then the call came again and again for twelve years. It appeared a never ending cycle. During those years I dropped everything in my life when the call came to be a primary care taker for my mother as she had a quad by-pass, pacemaker, hip replacement, was in a near fatal car accident that shattered both knees and had giant tumors removed. I was there for her, but I never gave up on myself or my educational future in returning to school. After having long bouts of hiatuses I would take two courses only to drop again due to my mother’s illnesses. I never gave up hope and with every ample opportunity I made sure I was in school.
My goal was set from the moment I graduated with my Associate’s degree. I refused to let circumstances beyond my control let me lose sight of the path I chose to be on. I was determined to do the impossible, at least in my eyes. My mother was my inspiration for attending college. When I was younger I watched a single mother going to Empire State College for a bachelor’s degree in social work. There were times she could not find a sitter and so I accompanied her to some of her classes. I enjoyed the experience of knowledge being shared and I wanted to be a part of the collective learning within a college environment.
In my opinion, life challenges you with crisis. How do you handle it? Will your actions speak louder than words? How do you resolve it in a manner that is not filled with fears or anger? For me, I faced my fears, used selfless actions, non-violent communication, organized a plan for problem solving, used compassion and diverse leadership disciplines to succeed in my vision. In May 2009 I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management. My mother passed over before I graduated, yet I felt she was looking down and smiling when I held my degree in my hands.
Andreescu, Viviana, and Gennaro F. Vito. An Exploratory Study On Ideal Leadership Behaviour: The Opinions Of American Police Managers. International Journal Of Police Science & Management. 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2012.
Burns, Gwen, and Barbara N. Martin. Examination Of The Effectiveness Of Male And Female Educational Leaders Who Made Use Of The Invitational Leadership Style Of Leadership. Journal Of Invitational Theory & Practice. 2010. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.
Malloy, Terry, and Barbara Penprase. Nursing Leadership Style And Psychosocial Work Environment. Journal Of Nursing Management. 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2012.
Medina, Marc. Leadership And The Process Of Becoming. Existential Analysis: Journal Of The Society For Existential Analysis. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.
Hello out there in blogging land. I have had way too much on my plate 🙂 I graduated on Friday with my second bachelor’s degree and have been working six part time jobs. It seems I am overqualified in education and accounting experience for a full time job. I am still searching for my dream job. So the next best thing, I am applying for my master’s degree in adult education. Wish me luck!!!
And by the way, I met a woman who wants to talk about publishing my book. Again, wish me luck!!!
One of the biggest and most prevalent mistakes in Western culture is the idea that there exists two separate and opposite genders, masculinity and femininity. Yet, in theU.S.hermaphrodites are often called the third gender as well as, intersex people, transgenders and homosexuals. Similarly Nanda expressed the identification of the third gender in the Indian culture as being hijras.
Berdache explains that there can be more than two genders, but most cultures Western and non, recognize only two. Although, there are many cultures that do accept a third gender, for exampleSamoa, Native American and Hindu. I would like to go on record stating that in my opinion there are more than two genders and to take it one step further, there are as many genders as there are people. According to Jacobs and Roberts (1989) the distinction of gender goes beyond the binary conception, “ The Chuckchee counted seven genders – three female and four male – while the Mohave reportedly recognize four genders – a woman, a woman who assumes the roles of men, a man, or a male who assumes the roles of women” (in Brettell & Sargent, 2005, p. 244). Our society is conditioned to believe in only two genders – two sexes and this can be quite harmful to many, not only those who identify as transgender but also intersex. It has been written that people are assigned a biological characteristics with which they are born with – sex: male, female, and intersex; whereas, people define their own gender man, woman, transgender and transsexual which are the learned attitudes and behaviors that characterize people of one sex or the other in other , it is a socially constructed definition of an individual.
The differences in U.S concepts and some of the third/fourth gender categories in other cultures begin with the idea that lesbian, gay, and bisexual are categories of sexual orientation, but transgender and transsexual are categories of gender and gender identity.
There are points of differentiation all along the way, but language and tradition in many societies insist that every individual be categorized as either a man or a woman, although there are societies, such as the Native American identity of a two-spirit, which include multiple gender categories.
Blackwood expressed the opinion of there being a link within American society associating sexual identity and gender for example; specifically that gay and lesbian homosexuality could threaten the identity of others. Whereas, in other cultures outside of theU.S.gender and sexuality are not connected but considered separate.
The differences in homosexuality (gay and lesbian) in the Western culture is viewed as same sex gender relations whereas, in many Native American cultures gender is not on the same level sexually speaking. Lang (1999) expressed the definition of gender and sexuality as being, “If a man, for example, is having sex with a woman-man, he is not seen as having sex with another man, he is having sex with someone who belongs to a gender different from his own” (in Lafont, 2003, p. 204).
American society has viewed transsexuals and transgenders as being men and women whose gender identity more closely matches the other physical sex. These individuals desire to rid themselves of their sexual characteristics and live as members of the opposite gender. Lafont (2003) discussed the distinction between transsexual and transgender as being, “…transsexuals are transgendered, but not all transgendered people are transsexuals- many are not interested in surgical “solutions”” (in Lafont, 2003, p. 220). The similarities between transgender/transsexual individual views between the U.S. and other cultures is basically that they consciously and differentiate themselves from gays and lesbians, because gays and lesbians are concerned with sexual orientation, but their focus is on gender. Sexual orientation can be whatever but what they are fighting for is gender identity, a desire that goes way beyond the physical.
In my opinion, the many variations marking gender is not an end but just the beginning. It is important for society to become more aware of these individuals. But in the same breathe, I think the world would be a much better place if we stopped trying to fit people into nice little categories that don’t really exist….we are human beings and that is what counts!!!
Brettell, C. & Sargent, C. (2005). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective. 4th ed.UpperSaddleRiver: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Lafont, S. (2003). Constructing Sexualities:Readingsin sexuality, gender and culture.UpperSaddleRiver: Prentice Hall.
This may sound crazy, so please bear with me. I went to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for my class assignment in signage and wayfinding. I decided to stop by the Administration Department to get approval for photographing their signage. A woman stated I should talk to someone in their Operations Signage Department. Before we parted she remarked that if they were closed that she did not see why I couldn’t take a few pictures of the Hospitals wayfinding signs for my school project. The office was closed. And so I did…sneaking around, clicking when no-one was looking, yet knowing that I was on camera. I felt it was important to explain the photographs you are about to see just in case the Hospital contacts me.
I want to begin this signage/wayfinding assignment with a little background regarding Sarasota Memorial Hospital. I have a long history with this facility as my mother spent way too much time there between, diabetic issues, three heart attacks, a quad by pass (which I stayed with her the entire week sleeping in a chair in her room) and several other physical ailments leading to her stays in the hospital. This in and out went on for twelve years. Mom died four years ago. I worked in the accounting department in 2009 at SMH and was involved in the monthly meetings with the CEO which revolved around the new construction of the building and additional facilities.
Ok, so let’s begin. Signage and wayfinding are visual communications. It is through signage that united wayfinding and identity systems occur. This includes information design for exterior and interior signage through directory maps and signs that are color coded resulting in the user navigating easily through the medical facility.
Requirements for Interactive Indoor Wayfinding System:
1) The signs are easy to see
2) The message is clear
3) Shows “you are here” to the user
4) Allows choices to a destination
5) Depicts a route
6) The process is simple and understandable for various users
The construction has been going on for two years now and this trip was my first time back. Because of the chaos (building and reconstructing) the signage system needed to be clear and simple for all users.
As I pulled up I saw signs everywhere directing visitors. The colors of the signs are symbolic of patriotism red, white and blue. Immediately a user can see clear hierarchies by the use of different fields of color containing different types of content as well as easy to follow directional arrows. (para Chen Design, 91).
I had to park in the parking garage and there was the old signage that I was accustomed to:
As I walked out of the elevator a large yellow number one let me know I was on the first floor. The arrow pointed in the direction to guide me, the user to the main lobby.
The signage and wayfinding system can be seen as it helps the user quickly make the next decision of where to go and how to get there. “Maps and user guides. Fewer than half of all hospitals currently provide basic user guides and maps to aid in wayfinding. However, they can provide valuable assistance to patients and visitors and are fast becoming a necessity…”
A directory and other information maps are available and visible as the user walks through the lobby.
A sitemap is located within the first floor hallway as Baer describes, “…should give a visual outline of all components and informational elements of the project” (64).
The photograph below is the final version of the design in blueprint format that maps out the user experience. It reveals a detailed view of how the content is organized as it incorporates interactivity by being simple and easy to read. The visual information used in wayfinding is seen through maps, symbols and diagrams to guide the user. According to Romedi Passini, “… people need information to make and execute decisions. Therefore, the wayfinding decisions they make determine the content of the required information” (89).
Wayfinding provides direction for people in motion. The principles of wayfinding design are described by the Michigan street wayfinding signs conceptual approach:
1) Design for the first time user.
2) Design to simplify the visual environment (legibility, coherence).
3) Give only the information needed at a given decision point.
4) Integrate design elements.
5) Contribute to a sense of place.
6) Create synergy between destinations.
7) Respond to diverse stakeholders.
8) Design for flexibility and to minimize maintenance costs.
9) Design for adaptability to other media. (2)
The information based exhibits depict quality by organizing the data, showing clarity of the directional data and reducing visual disorder. The displays are clean with plain language. They are detailed to ensure a consistent quality in the sign information design as signage and interactive imagery are intertwined. The quality experience supports the goals of the exhibits and displays by meeting the priority of the target audiences through the mixed media that utilizes and meets the interests of all age groups and cultural backgrounds. The overall purpose includes the objectives relating to the quality and coherence. The quality of contextual information is in simple language regarding its background information. It also reveals continued changes due to the construction.
The new signage at SMH uses an approach known as Progressive Disclosure to engage the audience and make the information meaningful. Progressive Disclosure presents only the information needed to move from one decision point to the next. (para Phil Murphy). Effective stories are told from the moment the user arrives for example, does the user need the lobby to find an elevator or the emergency room to find a loved one? This information engages the audience in the decision process.
The hospital signage is clear and effective as it provides a design framework that establishes consistent aesthetics and quality. The integration of different components begins with the maps, naming, numbering, colors utilized such as the word “Emergency” in red, typography and general organization of the parts of a building which are important organizational aspects of the signage system. Wayfinding is unified as each sign is interrelated to the next and the clarity of purpose is clear in its plain language succeeding in showing complex data in a format which is understandable by various users.
The information is effectively designed for the variety in the audience between the various ages, genders and social status. In 2013 the Courtyard Tower will officially open.
What new signage will convey their final message? We will just have to wait and leave it up to the creative designers of the hospital signage department.
Baer, Kim. Information Design Workbook: graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies. Beverly: Rockport Publishers, Inc., 2008.