Archive for the ‘Article’ Category


Teaching Philosophy by Scott

October 24, 2012

When asked about my teaching philosophy, I often get the feeling that people want some long academic dissertation on pedagogical ideals. But, the simple answer is I practice what I teach.

As far as I can tell, students enrolled in the courses I teach want to hone skills that they will take into the marketplace. They want to succeed. They want careers instead of jobs. They want to qualify for higher paying positions. They want the personal satisfaction that goes along with higher education. Individual definitions of success will vary, of course, but the typical student falls into a general theme of self-improvement.

My role as their instructor is that of a facilitator. I guide my students through the process of discovering how the general concepts in each course actually apply to their lives.  I don’t merely want them to be able to come up with the right answers in class and on the test. I want them to understand why the answer is correct and how to consistently find correct answers to problems that differ from the examples presented in the curriculum. I believe that understanding is what gives their educational experience real value.

This is especially true in teaching design, where there may be thousands of “correct” answers. Art is subjective and the connection between art and commerce can be difficult to define – even for seasoned professionals. More often than not, the “why” behind a creative solution is far more compelling than the specific solution itself.

Therefore, my responsibility goes somewhat beyond merely presenting course content in lectures. To my mind, a lecture is merely a starting point. The real learning takes place in the application of the concepts presented, and the discussion of how they worked / didn’t work in that application. Active discussions are where critical thinking and fluency in the subject matter are really developed. Weaknesses are better identified and addressed in discussions than on an exam or in a paper in my experience, and it’s a process that lends itself to both online and on ground contexts.

It is probably no accident that the basic process is exactly the same that I have used throughout my non-academic professional career. Good business decision-making begins with the gathering of data. This includes decisions about visual communication / design. Once the data is understood, the problem to be solved by the decision can be defined and the specific solution to the problem developed. We use cool terminology like “discovery’, “exploration”, “brainstorming”, “refinement”, “execution”, and “success metrics”; but conceptually it’s a learning process not terribly different from what students experience.

By applying professional practices to the classes that I teach, I hope to help my students develop the competitive edge that will help them succeed in their chosen path.  Discussions provide the opportunity to table dissenting ideas and facilitate greater student involvement in their own learning process.  I often find myself learning as much from them as they from me, and I prefer trading knowledge to dictating ideals.


Coleman University launches Web Media and Game Development programs.

June 30, 2010

San Diego CA – Coleman University has announced the launch of their Web Media Design and Video Game Development programs for the August 2010 start.

These two exciting new programs represent the latest offerings in a continuing tradition of superior technology focused education from San Diego’s Coleman University. The Web Media Design curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for meaningful careers as graphic designers in the highly dynamic field of web and multi-media publishing. The Game Development curriculum covers several aspects of modern game design including front and back end development. Students graduating from the Game Development program will have experienced the entire development process from “Blue Sky” to storyboarding to programming, and will be well suited to confidently enter the very competitive and rewarding field of video game production in one of several capacities, depending on the student’s primary interest.

Both of these programs are a natural extension of Coleman University’s core competencies. The university has specialized in “high-tech” education since 1963, and the Computer Graphic Design program was launched in 2002. The faculty in the CGD program is made up almost entirely of working designers who teach on an adjunct basis, which brings a very real-world focus to the classroom.

The Game Development program represents the natural overlap between the design side and the programming side of project development in the “real world”. By leveraging the well-established history of successfully training professional programmers and the professional game development experience of some of the adjunct faculty, Coleman University has tailored a curriculum that will provide specific skill sets that are desired by well known Game Developers such as Blizzard Entertainment and Sony.

The main focus of the Web Media Design includes the fundamental principles of thoughtful design and layout, with an emphasis on the relationship between aesthetics and functionality as applied to Web pages. Successful graduates will have gained a superior understanding of market research, its influence on successful design, the purpose, process, and methodology of applied User Interface Design, as well as web based code writing skills through the design and production of several hands-on projects, including web sites and an online portfolio.

The main focus of the Game Development Program is producing well-rounded video game professionals. In keeping with the tradition of the university, there is a slight emphasis on the programming side of the development process, but students also get first hand experience in Typography, Digital Imaging, Animation, and 3D Modeling. Graduates seeking jobs as professional programmers at companies such as Electronic Arts or Activision will have a competitive edge because they will have a deeper understanding of how their role compliments and is influenced by all aspects of the development process. Graduates looking for jobs as modelers and animators will have a competitive edge because they will not only understand the programmer’s role, they will have actual programming experience. This sort of cross-training is highly desirable among the biggest and most successful game publishers in the world, and it gives students the tools t o be able to self publish games if they so desire.

As with all of the programs offered by Coleman University, students enrolled in the Web Media Design and Game Development programs will experience very small class sizes and highly individualized attention from instructors who are professionals in their field. The university also offers placement assistance and access to the university’s resources after graduation.

For more information, you can visit the Colman University Web Site at or contact their admissions department directly. The San Diego campus is1 mile east from the 163 and 1 mile west from the 15 on Balboa Ave at 8888 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123-1506, Phone: (858) 499-0202. The San Marcos campus is 1 mile west of the CA 78 at 1284 W San Marcos Blvd, San Marcos, CA 92078-4073, Phone: (760) 747-3990.


Retirement and Great Golf, Great Golfer or Not

June 6, 2010

Mark Twain once said (if you can believe the internet…), “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

It’s a sentiment that even the most skilled and avid golfer can identify with on occasion, especially if playing a particularly challenging course. Funny how just before the first tee, the daunting challenge of a really well designed course is something to aspire to – yet somewhere in the back nine it can occasionally become an impediment to our love of the game (even if we never admit it out loud).

Part of this, of course, depends on where you take up the game. An unsuspecting seven year old introduced to golf on a Donald Ross signature course in Upstate NY and has a lifetime of experience with the game will have a different attitude towards a tough round than the true novice golfer who waited until retirement offered them enough free time for golf. The rest of the equation is the usual variables such as general temperament, competitive nature, etc.

The inevitable result is that, on occasion, a weekend foursome is composed of players with wildly divergent skill levels. So if you’re new to the game, or just not that good (yet!), the idea of paying “tournament level green fees” to be essentially abused by your cohort for 18 holes might not be an attractive option. Of course, you don’t want to be “anti-social” so you might end up playing (and paying) anyway.

Fortunately, modern course design seems to be about making the game enjoyable for varied skill sets. Take Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia for example. Course designer Gary Panks included over 70 pronounced and transitional bunkers that feed the course’s fairways and native areas.

According to his web site, Panks entered private practice as a landscape architect in 1971, and in 1978 began designing golf courses exclusively as Gary Panks Associates. Several of his designs have been nationally acclaimed and he’s been honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects for his unique putting course at Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ, which was inspired by the Himalayas putting course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

It’s pretty clear Panks knew exactly what he was doing when he designed Vistancia. It’s a course that rewards careful planning and precise execution, but there are five tee boxes to choose from. This allows players of every skill level to actually enjoy being tested by the course.

Even on the “worst” day of golf it’s helpful that Panks drew upon distinctive land features and a backdrop of stunning Arizona scenery to craft an awe-inspiring setting. No matter where the ball goes, you’re on a spectacularly beautiful course that’s one of just 23 US courses to earn a five-star rating from Golf Digest.

If you happen to be considering retirement and looking for a place to take up golf, Vistancia gets even better. Trilogy at Vistancia is a master planned 55+ active adult community that caters to “buyers with refined tastes”. Think upscale active living in a luxurious resort-style setting.

Trilogy homes at Vistancia offer stunning views of the type you see from the golf course; there are towering palm trees and lush landscaping.  The place seems more like a resort than a neighborhood, but it is a neighborhood; complete with schools, shopping and recreation for when you’re not playing golf.

The houses are built using the latest in “green” technologies, which can save homeowners about $1500 per year through energy efficiency. Their carbon footprint is about estimated to be about 40% less than traditionally built homes, and they are beautiful. It’s an intimate, friendly, accessible living environment, attached to your 5-star golf course.

Trilogy at Vistancia might just be Golf Heaven. But don’t be afraid of the cost – you might be pleasantly surprised. It’s at least worth checking out, and we’re confident that you’ll be glad you did.


Retiring as a Green Boomer?

May 30, 2010

In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated there were approximately 78.2 million baby boomers in America. A 2007 AARP survey found that about half of all boomers see themselves as environmental stewards, or “green boomers.” This makes some sense when you consider that the Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They grew up with the environmental movement of the 1960s and ’70s.

They were at Woodstock, they lived the Summer of Love, they’re a big chunk of the population, and most of them are affluent homeowners. While “affluent homeowner” and “environmentalist” might seem at odds to some – consider how many Lexus Hybrids you see next time you’re out in traffic.

Face it; being green doesn’t have to mean living out in the sticks and off the grid. It is possible to enjoy high-end living and use less energy in the process. It’s just a matter of paying attention to what you buy and what you do. Boomers have it down to a science.

But, what about retiring? You’re a responsible Green Boomer looking for an idyllic “Life’s next big adventure” retirement lifestyle – where do you go and what do you do?

Well, in California, lawmakers approved a new home tax credit of up to $10,000 effective May 1, 2010.

And if you like the San Francisco Bay Area, up the river delta and along Highway 4 around Brentwood, Trilogy at the Vineyards, an active adult 55+ community, is offering an unprecedented “Double Your Savings” offer.

In addition to the tax credit, buyers get an additional $10,000 in seller incentives. Yes, you read that correctly – this could mean $20,000 to state qualifiers who buy a new Shea Home in a Trilogy Community and buyers who don’t qualify for the state credit still get the $10,000 incentives from Trilogy while they last.

Given that any self respecting Green Boomer would want to retire in an area still known throughout the Bay Area for agricultural products like cherries, corn and peaches, it’s like getting an almost $20K kickback for doing something you would do anyway.

And it gets even better – Trilogy’s homes can achieve a 50% reduction in the therms associated with heating water, 75% reduction in energy used from lighting, 40% reduction in energy used from clothes washers, and a 41% reduction energy used by dishwashers.

They’re Shea Green Certified homes and they are built with a combination of the most important and cost-effective standards for green residential building set by LEED.

Options include solar power systems, solar attic fans, wood from sustainable forests, framing techniques that use up to 10 percent less wood (saving 5.5 trees per home), leak minimizing construction techniques (sealed ducts and penetrations), Energy Star-rated efficient appliances, 14 SEER air conditioning units, dual pane low-e windows, and motion and occupancy sensor lighting.

Of course, the icing on the cake is the recent announcement of several new designs offered at Trilogy at the Vineyards. Now you get the dream retirement in the beautiful wine country with easy access to San Francisco, and not only do you get to live it in an environmentally friendly home that costs less to heat & cool on top of the tax / builder incentives – but you get exactly the retirement home you want. One estimate put the number of different design combinations of floor plans and elevations within each of the three collections at nearly sixty.

So if you’re really interested in getting the retirement home you want, where you want it, and how you want it – but in an environmentally responsible manner at an attractive price, then check out Trilogy at the Vineyards.


Retiring Green

May 29, 2010

As much as we talk about the costs of retiring, it’s interesting to note that cost doesn’t simply refer to the money involved in purchasing a dream retirement.

Now that the oldest Baby Boomers are old enough to be thinking about retirement, many of them have the notion that their retirement lifestyle should be green, or environmentally sustainable. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising since they practically invented the Green Movement – don’t email, we’re not ignoring Muir and the other notables of Environmental History, we’re just making the point that Boomers are green, have been since before the first Earth Day, and have the socio-political clout to make it a priority, okay?

Sadly, this keen interest has led some homebuilders and developers to attempt to attract Boomers without really delivering a sustainable product. They cloud the issue by using language suggesting environmental sensitivity without pointing to anything tangible in their product to support the claim. Environmentalists call the practice  “Greenwashing”

Fortunately, a “green” standard has been developed for private homes. It’s called the LEED certification standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit, non-government entity that seeks to change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.

The standard for private homes is in its pilot phase, but the commercial green standard has been implemented nationwide. While you’re looking at glossy brochures of 55+ Active Adult Retirement Communities, look at the communal buildings in the development you and see if those meet the LEED standards, which are in a nutshell, any community or home that

  • Achieves high standards of indoor air quality
  • Uses building materials that are locally produced and or/recycled
  • Incorporates water conservation and storm water management
  • Achieves a minimal footprint on the land
  • Keeps carbon emissions low through use of renewable energy or super-efficient building envelopes

Another good way to ensure that you’re retiring green is to look into regions or cities that are in the forefront of green practices. Redmond, Washington is a good example. Smarter Cities, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council calls Redmond “a city to watch” because it’s bike friendly, has good mass transit, and the city promotes green building and native species yard care.

While you’re looking around Redmond, check out Trilogy at Redmond Ridge. Trilogy is an active adult 55+ community that’s built by Shea Homes. Trilogy homes are Shea Green Certified, which is not only environmentally sound, but will save homeowners about $1800 per year in utility costs.

If you’ve never heard of Shea Homes, rest assured that they’ve been on the forefront of Green Building Practices since long before it became trendy. In 2008, they were the first national builder to make solar power systems an included option on new homes, and all Shea Green Certified homes are built with a combination of the most important and cost-effective standards for green residential building set by LEED.

In addition to solar power systems, features often incorporated by Shea Homes include solar attic fans, wood from sustainable forests, framing techniques that use up to 10 percent less wood (saving 5.5 trees per home), leak minimizing construction techniques (sealed ducts and penetrations), Energy Star-rated efficient appliances, 14 SEER air conditioning units, dual pane low-e windows, and motion and occupancy sensor lighting.

One poll commissioned by Harris Interactive/Trilogy by Shea Homes found that baby boomers “rank solar technology as the single most important feature of a green home, followed by energy-efficient appliances and dual pane windows.”

In September 2008, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Trilogy by Shea Homes highest in customer satisfaction among the largest active adult community new home builders in 33 U.S. markets. Trilogy’s green homes exceed the International Energy Code for energy efficiency by approximately 30 percent, and they undergo 20 different tests and inspections by an independent third party to achieve their green certification.

So if you’re serious about your commitment to that Green Retirement, take a good look at Trilogy Redmond Ridge.


Finding Your Retirement Value.

May 28, 2010

Since a lot of the discussion about retirement centers around costs these days, lets just confront the issue head on; how do you define “Value”?

All too often the comparison between two options comes down to “price” when it should come down to value. If you happen to be one of the few people in the world for whom money is no object, you might decide simply to buy the most expensive home you could find – just because you can. If you don’t really love the location, then there’s arguably no real value to the purchase. Price wasn’t a factor, but who the heck wants to live in an area they don’t like?

Of course, for most of us, money is an object. It’s a major aspect of our decision-making. For a lot of us, taking the opposite tack is our default choice. We might choose a “more affordable” retirement home because it’s actually more affordable.

Funny thing is, you end up in the same position as the first example – totally unhappy with where you live and having wasted a lot of money. Considering that we’re discussing retirement home purchasing here, such unhappiness could seriously affect the rest of your life – or maybe that’s too dramatic.

Or IS it? First things first; if you’re going to enjoy retirement and really make it your life’s next big adventure, you have to decide where you want to be. Ideally, you’d have an idea of where to be and what to do when you’re there – but in the interest of keeping it simple, lets start with place.

For example, you might generally want to be in California. Maybe you have an affinity for wine country. You start looking around and find the central coast, and see a really nice community called Trilogy Central Coast near Nipomo. Trilogy is a beautifully designed 55+ active adult community and like most of us, you’re pretty excited by the idea. Then you find out that listings there are between somewhere over $450K to somewhere over $800K. Depending on your life experience, you might either go into sticker shock or just shrug and say, “well, that’s California.”

And yes, that is California. But before you write it off as an option and look elsewhere, it does bear taking the time to understand the value of what you get for the money. It’s true that $450K will buy you a lot of house in most states, but are we really prepared to compare retirement lifestyles by square footage?

Look at the California Central Coast this way; where else are you going to find a thriving coastal community, surrounded by a dramatic backdrop of vineyards, beaches and hot springs? Where else puts both San Francisco and Los Angeles within a few hours drive?

Imagine being located a mere hour away from exploring the Santa Ynez wine country, or Shopping & Dining in Santa Barbara. Imagine being able to randomly pick day trips to several of the Historic California Missions or the Los Padres National Forest, the Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve, or Montana De Oro State park. Consider that every October to February you can stroll among the thousands and thousands of Monarch butterflies in the Eucalyptus grove at Pismo Beach.

The reality is that the California Central Coast is a truly unique place that is highly desirable – and by California standards it really isn’t that expensive. In addition, when you look closely at Trilogy Central Coast you also find that you’re buying an exceptional value for the price beyond the location.

Trilogy Central Coast features contemporary design, green building practices, and a community plan that focuses on wellness and community. Amenities include The Monarch Club, which won the 2009 Gold Nugget Grand Award for architecture, and the lush, green Monarch Dunes Golf Course. You end up with a dream retirement in resort style living in one of the most amazing parts of California – and those green building practices end up translating into lower monthly costs, so your dollars can be put to better use, which adds to your overall retirement value. At the very least, have a conversation with your real estate agent, or contact the nice people at Trilogy directly – know exactly what your options are by value – not just price, and put together a retirement lifestyle you’ll actually enjoy living.