Q&A with Tor de Vries

Tor de Vries.An award-winning designer with broad experience in print and digital media as well as communications, programming and IT, Tor de Vries is a unique blend of art, business, and technology.

Now a DTC scholarly assistant professor at WSU,  de Vries infuses his teaching with real-world perspective.

What classes do you teach?
Before teaching at WSU Pullman, I worked professionally for decades as a designer, art director, and web developer in both corporate and nonprofit organizations, and I try to share my experiences through my classes. In Fall 2020, I taught web design, web coding, user experience (UX), and an array of related concepts. In other semesters, I have taught graphic design and Adobe software, as well as working on real-world design projects.

What brought you to WSU Pullman and the DTC program
I really like how the Digital Technology and Culture program blends design and communications skills with a range of humanities perspectives. This kind of degree didn’t exist when I was an undergraduate, but it’s exactly what I would have taken.

How has COVID-19 changed how you teach?
Online instruction has made it harder to achieve the kind of feedback and immediacy that I like in a classroom. For example, I prefer to teach web coding in a computer lab where I can respond to student questions or problems with personal, hands-on assistance.

Teaching by video introduces technology barriers and impedes the interpersonal connections that are otherwise seamless in a physical classroom. I try to make up for this by being available for a lot of extra one-on-one time via Zoom. I also think that many of us are feeling much more anxiety, so I do my best to have extra grace and flexibility about the challenges each student is facing — and I ask the same of my students about me, about each other, and even about themselves.

What is a Fun Fact about yourself?
This might come as a surprise to my past students: in the 1990s, I had a mustache, goatee, and ponytail. That ponytail will never return, but in November 2020, I grew back the mustache and goatee as part of the annual Movember charity event to raise money for suicide prevention.

Top image: Tor de Vries

Adapted from WSU Pullman’s Faculty Friday series on Facebook.