Life Before Ulster
Adrian Hickey worked as a Graphic Designer for the Alpha Newspaper Group as part of a team that produced ten print publications per week before joining Ulster. At Alpha, Adrian became proficient in industry standard techniques for image production from raw to prepress. This high paced environment enabled him to hone his page layout skills, (in Quark Xpress!) and design multiple advertisements and advertorial assignments for brands such as Lidl, Tesco, Ford, Alfa Romeo and Suzuki.
Adrian first began lecturing in Creative Media Production at the Northern Regional College (Ballymena) where he taught units in Page Layout and Design, 2D Animation and Video Installation amongst others. Soon after, Adrian started life at Ulster as a half-time Teaching Fellow in Media Arts, transitioning to full time in 2011.
Adrian’s pedagogical approach can be broadly described as 'Problem-Based Learning' (PBL). Adrian’s Project- Social, www.project-social.co.uk, is a typical example of this approach. At its core, Project-Social is underpinned by the pedagogies of ‘Work Based Learning’ (Kolb, Lucas, Boud, etc.) and contemporary pedagogies of ‘Students as Partners’ (Healey).
Adrian encourages students to produce most of the work independently, using weekly sessions to pitch ideas, critique work in progress, set goals and resolve issues.
These scenarios can be loosely described as problem-based learning. “Problem based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach that suggests that learning is effective when the learner is empowered to undertake research into real problems or challenges applying both theory and practice to develop solutions.” (Lucas, 2010) Project- Social delivers an impactful learning experience replicating professional practice, which not only engages the students in subject relevant research activities, but which also has a real and meaningful impact in the communities in which they are situated. For this approach Adrian was the recipient of Excellence in Employability/Placement Support award at the UUSU Learning and Teaching Awards 2018. Project-Social was also shortlisted for an Irish Education Award in 2019.
Adrian’s research is primarily practice driven and centres on using contemporary media practice to engage audiences in creative modes of expression and discovery. Using creative media practices, from augmented reality to animation, my research projects directly engage users through contemporary digital devices.
Much of his creative practice engages users from the wider community, opening up media practice to that audience as a means of communication and expression.
This practice research wants to engage with users that perhaps don’t have easy access to, or perhaps an understanding of, how contemporary media can be used to better society.
An example of this practice-based research is Generation Animation, (www.generationanimation.co.uk), a creative programme that encourages school children to discover the UNICEF Rights of the Child by animating their stories and Project Social, (www.project-social.co.uk), engaging students in their community by mentoring their media outputs for non-profit organisations.
Much of Adrian’s teaching and research engages the civic, through either problem based learning approaches or participatory action research scenarios.
He has also designed and developed workshops for Ulster's Schools Outreach STEM extravaganza ‘All SySTEMs Go!’, resulting in high-quality, subject-specific events as part of Ulster’s strategic plan for widening access to higher education.
Adrian is also actively engaged in working with industry through Invest NI's Innovation Voucher scheme, completing consultancy projects in the Tourism, Recruitment, Music and Video on Demand (VOD) industries.