Striking a balance between practice and open practice, what does it mean to operate in a digital environment?

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Chris Follows
10 October 2011

Striking a balance between practice and open practice, what does it mean to operate in a digital environment?

Chris Follows, University of the arts London 2011

1. Introduction

A significant and over arcing connection across all of my practice is an interest in exploring the development and integration 'Open Educational Practice' (OEP) and Open Educational Resources (OERs) in art and design learning and teaching. The following action research intervention took place at Wimbledon School of Foundation 25 February to April 14 (2011). At the beginning of the final term I introduced a 'Wimbledon Foundation Video and Animation Final Projects' blog to a specific cohort of video and animation students and staff at Wimbledon school of Foundation: http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/.

Although I have had lots of experience of using web environments for supporting students (publishing resources) this has been primarily video and image tutorials for demonstrating technical 'intro' or 'how to' resources. I have never had experience of applying online technologies to directly support the development of academic practice within a specific cohort of students.

The learning and teaching problem I identified'. The intervention involved art and design foundation students, specifically those who specialise in fine art time-based media including animation, video, performance, sound and interactive media.

Students who work with video and animation tend not to work in the formal arts studio environment and over time can become 'less visible' to staff and their peers. Video and animation students sometimes work at home or out on location, when at college they mostly work in dark out of the way animation spaces and in digital media editing suites. Video and animation students tend to lose out on studio onsite peer support.

The primarily point of support in the media studios are technical staff, only on occasion would a personal tutor visit the media suite. If and when a student manages to secure a tutorial with their tutor, the media suite can be full and their editing workstation busy, so tutorials are often held in painting studios, with no or little time to review digital footage, providing constructive feedback and productive support in this environment difficult at best.

I've been reflecting on ways to provide better feedback and how my feedback to students corresponds with that of the personal tutors feedback and visa versa. Lack of communication between technicians, academics and the students, regarding student progress and development can result in staff having little clear understanding or overview of the students learning journey. An extreme example of this happened last year during the final assessment period. A tutor had not realised how much preparatory work one particular student had completed, as it was not clearly visible in her portfolio due to it being TBM work. I subsequently tried to gather together this student's work on various computers and the tutor sat and looked through the work. The tutor was shocked that he could have marked this student without seeing this body of work, as he thought it made a significant difference. Also see tutors feedback regarding this (appendix 2).

The below quote provides a teachers perspective and was provided as part of my call for academic feedback (appendix 2) regarding difficulties in communication.

"There were the normal difficulties, students doing work away from the studio and then turning up with a "finished piece" which has been ill-considered, insufficiently developed, edited, story-boarded etc. Specifically with film, in that there always seems to be a student who thinks they can rush around with a camera, do a bit of editing and then that's it! The main problem was making sure that students were well prepared and had thought through their idea, the "feel" of their work and how they were going to do this, the pace and narrative of their work."

I had considered a number of different interventions to address the learning and teaching problem, these would have involved attendance at personal tutorials and critiques, logistically this was too difficult to organise and would mean spending less time in the digital studio which would make the situation worse. I tried to find a solution, which would be suitable for all. I wanted to explore the potential of integrating Web 2.0 technologies in learning and teaching and create a more visible, open and collective environment for the Wimbledon time-based media 'students and staff.

The research question I came up with: What are the challenges, limitations and benefits of introducing blogs to better support ongoing evaluation and timely feedback for students working in video and animation?

The intervention I made and how I evaluated it.

The primary goal of this intervention was to evaluate the overall challenges, limitations and benefits of implementing and encouraging staff and student to participate in this learning and teaching intervention. Its helpful for technicial and academic staff to have an overall understanding of technical, contextual and conceptual approaches the student is making. The challenge was first to integrate the blog into the curriculum and then convince staff and students this was a worthwhile venture. Limitations were one of participation, a 'team effort' was required, and this was the high-risk part of the intervention, as the notion of online academic practice was new to all. The benefits of the intervention went well, the blog provided a perfect means of bridging and integrating practice, the blog quickly became the central open platform for communication, interaction, reflection and support in which I had intended it to be. The perceived negative aspects of time and effort spent setting up the blog were over come by the clear benefits of helping deliver more meaningful and structured learning and teaching experience for the students, staff and myself.

In total, seventeen time-based media (TBM) students openly published digital journals displayed video, image and text showing development of preparatory work in the run up to the final end of year exhibition. The blog was actively used by students and myself and reflected the spirit of intervention including active peer-to-peer open discussions there was less visible interaction from other staff.

The research was evaluated primarily by using and monitoring the blog myself daily along side the students and staff, this way I could evaluate the project through daily observations onsite and online. The blog became a useful visual recorded of the project, which we could reflect on during and after the project. At the end of the intervention I posted an online questionnaire to gather anonymous student feedback, five students in total responded (appendix 1). I also emailed relevant staff members with a short list of questions 5 out of 7 responded (appendix 2).

As an intervention, the integration of blogs to support the learning and teaching activities of students and staff was very effective. The blog intervention enhanced communication, helped surface practice and successfully introduced the new notion of open practice and encouraged students to reflect and explore how they operate online; student feedback (appendix 1) shows clear improvements in web 2.0 digital literacy skills.

The intervention improved my practice; I managed student support and feedback better by saving time and having clear understanding of student progress. Tutorials were more meaningful and effective. I was more critical of my online feedback as this was open to the world and it could be referenced at any point, the intervention highlights this as best practice and a possible way forward for encouraging low level participation to support personal online digital literacy development.

The intervention provided sound evidence, which I can apply to best practice in the future, advance planning, pre digital literacy assessment to help inform design, clear guidelines, visible support, not too embed (low risk at first), allow for flexibility of use and non-participation. It's helpful to have nominated 'champion or steward' in place to support, nurture and guide the project forwards.

2. Background

I teach students who specialise in TBM projects. As a technician in a digital media studio you are also responsible for supporting students in their overall digital media development. Digital media students on a foundation course can come from four different subject areas including 3D design, visual communication, design for performance and fine art. Students who specialise in digital media projects especially TBM tend to work very closely with the digital media technical staff and less so with the academics. Demand for support in this area is high, my post at Wimbledon is shared between my colleague and myself, and therefore communication and openness is crucial.

Unlike most art and design higher education courses the FE foundation course is mainly project-based course for example students are set termly tasks to complete based on particular learning activities and outcomes. Students are encouraged to be independent learners and engage collaboratively in the art school open studio environment.

3. Literature Review

As seen in this project and on previous projects I have worked on there is a recurring problem of successfully integrating web 2.0 technologies into learning and teaching, I will explore why and how we can begin to address it?

If we were to look at the notion of teachers as digital immigrants, who are learning to live with technology and students as digital natives, living with technology since birth. (Prensky, 2001) we begin to see a huge gap that divides learners and teachers. In my experience of teaching digital media over the past 7 years it is not true to say all students are digital natives or all teachers are digital immigrants, this is reflected in the feedback questionnaire (Appendix 1 & 2) and (Diagram 1) below, four out of five students positioned themselves in the -'Very Poor' to 'Average' categories and four out of five staff positioned themselves in the Good to Average categories, so quite the reverse scenario to what Prensky (2007, forward to 18:10) suggests, although he does acknowledge this, he explains there is an increasing sway towards this being a problem in the future. As the pace of technology development increases emphasis should be placed on 'progressive practice' and addressing the problems of digital literacy and web 2.0 use in learning and teaching.

Diagram 1 (attached)

Content and participation: striking the right balance.

Wenger (1998) sees 'reification' (making it into a thing) and 'participation' as a duality of two constituent processes of the 'negotiation of meaning' fundamental to the human experience of meaning and thus to the nature of practice. Both must exist in practice in order to create meaning.

In this instance we could identify in our own practice content as reification for example learning resources and blog posts and for participation we could associate with commenting and interaction, therefore as Wenger argues we need to practice both to achieve 'negotiation of meaning'. I will now explore the relevance of 'content' and 'participation' in our practice and how the two concepts if seen as 'a duality of two constituent processes' can support OEP development.

Content

For many of the students the introduction of the blog was a first time experience so was uploading videos to YouTube. Its clear that students found the process a rewarding experience. It can be very difficult to manage digital content or digital practice, this is not something taught on the course and there is an assumption that students know how to operate in the digital environment. For most students working in non-digital subjects work can be placed into an A1 presentation folder and training is provided in this but not for digital portfolios. There is an increasing demand for students to present their practice in digital form and I have seen universities starting to request digital portfolio submissions over the A1 predecessor.

So there is a real need to surface practice and get content online and we need to support the students in this process. There is a danger of blogging for blogging sake as is quickly becoming the default learning and teaching answer for addressing use of digital media in practice. In truth many teachers who's own lack of awareness of what it means to operate in a digital environment impacts on the implementation and success of such learning activities, which in turn impact students confidence and development.

Tutors need to be proactive in helping learners to develop learning and digital literacies. (LliDA, 2009)

It's easy to dismiss blog content as somehow having less relevance than physical content in studios. 'David Gauntlett (2011) argues however small and insignificant it may seem at first teachers need to readdress the value of publishing content online and stop viewing web 2.0 content as 'a sweet kind of sideshow'. (Gauntlett, 2011 pp.19)

"But as yet educational institutions struggle to define themselves within this social media age, often rejecting the idea of social networked learning because it is regarded as unstructured, undisciplined and inferior to institutionalised learning" (Wikibooks, 2011)

How do we strike the right balance between open practice and practice, for 'negotiation of meaning' to take place we need participation, and to find the right balance of student and teacher participation face-to-face and online. In the next section I will look at the concept of participation and how we 'create meaning' from content and what we may need to consider to make this work.

Participation

So far I have made the assumption that staff are not participating because they are not commenting or actively visible on the blog, they are of course busy on the ground, like myself engaged in full participation teaching face-to-face onsite in studios, if so who is looking at the student blogs, how do we know if there's a sign of academic life on our blog? Staff feedback shows (appendix 2) they did look and use the student blogs, although Lave & wenger (1991) would describe the teachers level of participation as 'Legitimate Peripheral Participation' (LPP), sitting on the sidelines and learning how the community works before entering the community fully or decide to back off. Striking the right balance is difficult, students and staff are wary of open practice as we can see in the feed back, especially staff (appendix 2) and in this student response to question 4. To what extent has the FMP blog improved the way you communicate with peers and staff? Wrote:

"It has improved communication with peers and staff to an extent, although I prefer communicating with staff face to face. I think the more online teaching gets the less personal it becomes". (Appendix 1)

My experience of this intervention may have been different had there have been an increased presence of tutor online activity, would this also have changed the student's experience? If so, how do we encourage teachers to move from the position of LPP to being a full participant? I will use two of Brookfield's (1995 pp.4) 'critical reflection' examples to explore this problem.

The teacher as Fly on the Wall

Where are the teachers? Are they observing our progress? The lack of framework and understanding of how students and staff operate in this space can cause confusion 'does the teacher's silence on my post mean disappointment or satisfaction?' We can begin to manage these expectations by addressing our level of participation. If teachers begin to explore 'a way of understanding learning and teaching' as OEP, this may provide an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their interactions and decide on the level of participation in the community.

"She will learn when, and how much to disclose, and she will know about the confidence-inducing effects of such disclosure. She will also know when keeping her own counsel leads to students doing some productive reflection, and when it paralyses them". Brookfield, S. (1995 pp.8)

The Circle

If our blog were a classroom, we may lay it out as a circle of chairs, good practice you'd think, no rows of chairs for students to fall asleep and get lost in the crowd. In the circle everyone is inward facing, visible and in a position of dominance, part of the group. For the confident students this is not a problem, although there is always the problem of the dominant student taking over the group or students feeling they should just say something for the sake of it. For the less confident and shy students this configuration can be intimidating, Brookfield (1995) quotes Kreisberg (1992) describe how 'painful and humiliating experience' it is to be forced into a position of openness and exposure in an unfamiliar environment. The students have no opportunity to sit back and observe the tutor in practice, the student needs space and time to check out their environment and teacher so they are sure and secure enough to contribute to the community so they can open up and thrive in this environment. The circle does not allow LLP for students to find their place in the community.

4. Method

I found the 'research by doing' approach to action research a really useful method of 'unpacking' the learning and teaching problem I've been trying to understand and address for some time. The cycle of planning, observation and reflection against a focused framework allowed me to explore the issues I wanted to and provided the confidence to collect 'real world' focused data to help build my enquiry and argument for this project and for future strands of research I'm sure will stem from participating in this experience.

The notion of technology stewardship describe by Wenger, White and Smith (2009 pp.24-27) as individuals who implement and support the integration and development of communities clearly reflects my approach to the action research intervention and the different 'streams of activity' undertaken to achieve it.

I have used the following descriptive 'streams of activity' headers 'community understanding, technology awareness, election and Installation, adoption and Transition and everyday use' from Wenger, White and Smith (2009) Stewarding technology for communities to describe the approach and method I took.

"These streams can become more or less salient at various times, but they should not to be thought of as a sequence. They mostly run in parallel and constantly inform each other." Wenger, White and Smith (2009 pp.26)

Community understanding

Throughout the academic year students were introduced and encouraged to use an existing site I had created for sharing and discussing practiced based learning and teaching online http://process.arts.ac.uk/, resources from here were embedded into the blog. The process.arts website was introduced to the students as a place to find support materials and resources. Students became familiar with the resource and used it to support their development. [1].

"Process.arts was also helpful, because you could always reflect back, If I didn't know how to work Photoshop I could always go back and just look up the videos that Chris had put up and work with it, it was very simple, very simplified was made easier for students like us" [2]

Technology awareness

Although at the beginning of the year I had not know what my action research intervention would be, I knew it would involve an exploration of digital literacies (JISC. Developing digital literacies) and be an extension of my research and experience ALTO and 'stewarding' process.arts I did not use this the process.arts website for the intervention because I felt the concept and context of the website was too big a jump for most starting out in open practice and could distract from the main points of the research.

Selection and Installation

In order to embed my action research project with direct focus on student and staff publication and participation rather than on publishing tools and experimental contexts ,I decided on using a more familiar blog group environment to frame this project, http://myblog.arts.ac.uk/.

Adoption and Transition

At the beginning of the final term I introduced the blog http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/ and invited all students from all areas who were using video and animation in their final major projects to be involved. The blog was primarily targeted at Fine Art students as these were the main user group but other areas were invited to participate as well. Prior to the call I had agreed with academic staff that the blog would be viewed as a digital journal for assessment.

Everyday use

The blog had a clear identity 'WCA Foundation Video & Animation FMP (final major projects)' which the students could associate with. There was an 'about' section which gave detailed information about using 'Video or animation' with guidelines on how to get technical support and access to facilities, book equipment and how to use the blog. I posted support calendars[3] where students could book support time with either my colleague or myself, this worked well at managing workloads and student expectations. There were clear links to key final major project deadlines and dates.

Named links of all students who contributed posts to the blog were given a prime position on a list to the right of the site page, it was very important to surface the community of users to encourage participation and communication. Anyone who wanted to view a student's blog journal could simply click on the name at any point whilst navigating the site. The blog became daily part of my practice; I continually monitored activity, posts and comments throughout the project.

5. Results

Overall participation

Twenty six users joined the blog group including four members of staff, the blog was fully open which meant anyone could view the posts from anywhere so I'm unsure exactly of the overall impact the blog had. Of the twenty four students who joined the blog seventeen students created blog posts ranging from 1 to 17 post per student, with a overall 117 student posts being created in total and 105 comments.

There are three perspectives in which to view how the intervention went, through the eyes of the students, academic and myself.

My perspective

The key success of the blog for me was the sense of being part of a community, having everything and everyone in the one place, where in previous years the community existed in silo's without a central domain to share experience and practice. The key advantages of having one blog for all meant I did not have to search around, navigate new interfaces and software or log into multiple sites to comment or interact. If there were problems with the site these could fix quickly for everyone, I could also support the group as a whole with getting started and using the blog. The blog also provide a place to embed video and animation learning resources, I could now target these resources at specific students if required.

Almost all the student's posts provided clear and informative information, which greatly helped in my preparation for tutorials. I had integrated a booking system for support tutorials into the blog to help manage my workload. The booking system worked incredibly well, students could book support in advance which meant we had time and a place to prepare, I could suggest resources, we could continue to communicate and share in their progress right up until the point of meeting face-to-face which in turn became a more meaningful and productive experience.

I'd had previous experience of posting resources and information but never openly written feedback before, I found using the blog in my practice to openly feedback made me more aware and critically reflective about how I communicated with students.[4]

The important missing factor in this process was the absence of academic input (comments and presence online) the blog failed to fully align student, technical and academic open practice. How would academic online participation have changed the intervention?

There was only one example I can provide of a three way communication in practice, this was where I had suggested to a student to look into some particular artists, the student was away for the rest of the week, I saw the tutor and mentioned what I'd discussed with the student, the tutor followed this up via the blog.[5]

The students perspective

At the time of the call for participation students were just beginning to develop their projects and needed time and space to formulate their ideas before making the step of publishing their thoughts openly online. Two weeks passed before the first student blog was posted, from this point onwards 5 to 10 posts were being published daily. The students at first seemed to be motivated by the prospect of using the blog to enhance their grade at assessment, although this felt less the case as students began to see the direct benefits to their practice. Student feedback shows vast improvements in digital literacy online skills in YouTube and blogging etc.

Students encouraged each other to use the blog and required little support using it, they continued to support each other throughout. Participating students viewed, interacted and commented on each other's posts, the group developed their own mutual and respectful peer support network[6] see student responses to question 3 (appendix 1)

"It has improved my method of communicating because its made me realise I prefer a more interactive way of communicating my ideas; viewers being able to leave comments gives me direct feedback from which I can work upon"

All feedback to this question was positive and suggests open practice had an significant impact on learning. During tutorials students used the blog effectively, referencing the blog before and during tutorial time. I saw students sitting with their personal tutors in the media suite looking and referencing content on the blogs together. Only one student showed concern at having their work visible to the world, although I would consider more privacy options in future. Students included index printouts of their blogs in their final portfolios for assesment.

Staff perspective

Although most staff did not fully participate in using the blogs they did view the content during tutorials along side the students as well as using for assessment. There are visible improvements in the digital literacy skills of students see (Diagram 1) and staff feedback suggests there are little problems in this area for them too (appendix 2). Staff feedback to the question: What barriers if any prevent you from using Web 0.2 websites and blogs in your teaching? Highlight lots of concerns including time, exposure (open practice), loss or reduction of existing onsite contact, quality concerns and general logistical problems (enough PCs in studios).

6. Discussion

I approached this project knowing that staff participation was going to be a problem, although I learned this assumption was not necessarily correct. My intervention was supposed to benefit students, academics and technical staff. Students and myself were the primary participants and all benefited from the experience. It would have been interesting to have seen more participation from academics and technicians and to see how this helped overall communication and alignment. The teachers were happy to remain on the periphery and observe and some students did the same. I had initiated the project and the students were aware of that, there was no reason for the students to expect academic participation, beyond observation and assessment use.

If web 2.0 projects are to be implemented into learning and teaching its good practice to target and identify your user group before hand. Compulsory participation is not advised as Brookfield, S. (1995) points out in the description of the circle of chairs, this situation does not allow LPP. There is also the issue of quality, students and staff should not be forced into a new educational spaces if they have not had the time and space to practice in it first.

We should be giving students the same time and space to explore open practice as staff. An example of this can be seen from the student feedback question 6 (appendix 1) this students is considering their own practice and how they operate in this arena, other users are also being considered:

"Most of my posts were created at the last minute. I ran out of time and would have love to have uploaded more reflections, clips and research on other artists. It is easy to write loads of text but I forget how hard it is for people to actually sit down and read something long nowadays. So probably could have been more imaginative with the ways i communicated to people."

Just asking students to use a blog in their practice is not necessarily going to succeed by itself, although students are good independent workers they still require guidance and support. Web 2.0 learning environments may require key staff members to be actively involved in facilitating the community's development, Wenger (2009) calls these members 'digital stewards' the community may struggle to exist without them. If an open online educational community is formed without any one individual teacher or steward to offer guidance and support, there could be potential confusion and misunderstanding.

The teacher who chooses to sit and observes as Brookfield, S. (1995) quotes Kreisberg,(1992) who describes the 'fly on the wall teacher', confusion can occur, the student sees no learning reference point in this context, she's uncertain if or how the teacher is going to use the blog,  what the teacher thinks about her posts, is she doing the right thing, are they even looking at all?

The flexible participation approach to open practice and blog integration in learning and teaching seems to work, we can use this as a good starting point in order to encourage the LLP participants into the community and grow from their. Its may be good practice to have clear guidelines of what to expect from the exercise, project aims and objectives for example. Everyone should have a clear understanding of each other's role in the project and know 'what is expected of them' in this new domain.

7. Conclusion

The intervention has provided a good base for me to consider how I approach and use web 2.0 technologies in the future in practice based learning and teaching. The blog was supplementary to other 'main' work, therefore, low risk, it provided perfect environment for LPP and full participation, as a first learning and teaching blogging experiment for all students and staff I think this worked well. What became clear from this intervention was with practice students do a great job of teaching themselves if the right amount of peer and teacher visible support is there.

It was pity the blog only ran for such a sort period of time as the students wanted to continue, many did and continued to use the blog after the course had finished, I had not planned for this and regret I hadn't as I felt I had deserted the community.

There's an impression that using open practice, complicates teaching and learning and is more time consuming, I hope this action research project has helped to readdress some of these assumptions.

I would like to explore further the perceived power shifts explored whilst reading Brookfield, S. (1995) between student and teacher and relate this to the dynamics involved in open practice and how this relates to each of Shreeve's (2008) five categories of practice. I would also like to explore the potential of 'feed forward', use of audio and video technologies for 'rapid generic feedback'.

For teachers 'approaches and conceptions of teaching' to change regarding aligning open educational practice to match the existing face-to-face practiced in studios, institutions would need to ensure their teachers hold the same 'commensurate conception of teaching' (Richardson, 2005) towards open practice as they do for current studio practice. To achieve this the institutions at policy level would have to adopt new 'approaches to teaching and conceptions of teaching' themselves in the form of OEP.

I will conclude with a students response to question 9 (appendix 2) Would you participate in the creation and use of online resources and learning in future to develop your practice?

Yes definitely, I value this blog and process arts a lot. It is a means to make my work more accessible within a community/group of other artists and the world. It would be great to be able to reflect and see my progress of becoming an artist through the years and recieve feedback about my work via an online website.

We need to start looking to the future and addressing the pace and diversity of technological developments across all aspect of our learning and teaching now, if we don't start changing now then when?

[1] Example posts by students on process.arts http://process.arts.ac.uk/category/tags/foundation-0

[2] Video interview with Ava Davar from 7 minutes 48 seconds, http://process.arts.ac.uk/content/interview-ava-davar

[3] http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/?s=Calender

[4] See example of comments here: http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2011/04/04/test-2/

[5] See example of comments here: http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2011/03/15/mirror-and-object-film-experiments/

[6] Post example with comments - Peeling off latex cast from found wood - http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2011/03/16/peeling-off-latex-cast-from-found-wood/

 

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Appendices

Appendix 1 :Student Survey

Q.2 How did you hear about the FMP blog? Why did you decide to use the FMP blog?

From Chris. So I could show the extra videos I had filmed but wasn't planning to use in the final exhibition, and write alongside them.

7/5/2011 10:58

I heard about the blog through tutors at college, I thought it would be a good way to interact with other people and get direct views on my work and progress.

28/4/2011 18:29

Chris, because I was working with sound and video

24/4/2011 20:24

Chris Follows told me about it. I decided to use it because I was doing film and wanted a place i could upload it so that people could view my work in progress.

18/4/2011 21:55

Chris did the presentation in the fine art room during registration one day and that's how I first heard of it. Then I forgot about it and as I was talking to one student about my work she encouraged me to use it too.

15/4/2011 1:03

Q.3 To what extent has the FMP blog improved you approach to learning and methods of communicating your practice?

It made it much easier to talk/write about my work as I had to make it legible for other people to read so I automatically thought about what I wanted to say in much more depth. It was also good to be able to see my videos alongside each other.

7/5/2011 10:58

It has improved my method of communicating because its made me realise I prefer a more interactive way of communicating my ideas; viewers being able to leave comments gives me direct feedback from which I can work upon.

28/4/2011 18:33

well it made doing a reflective journal easier

24/4/2011 20:24

It has been a huge help! It means I can share it with my friends at school but also with all my friends around the world who are interested in seeing what I'm up to. It basically made it much easier to share with people whether they saw it independently in their own time and gave feed back or whether there was something I needed to show someone, it made it possible to just log on to any computer and then show then a small clip. I also learnt how to upload video's onto youtube and use final cut pro. Which I probably wouldn't have done if it wasn't there.

15/4/2011 1:06

Q.4 To what extent has the FMP blog improved the way you communicate with peers and staff?

It has improved communication with peers and staff to an extent, although I prefer communicating with staff face to face. I think the more online teaching gets the less personal it becomes.

28/4/2011 18:34

not that much - only thing is that I could see more work of my peers and they could see mine

24/4/2011 20:24

It makes everything so much easier and quicker, just to be able to show all the digital material I have to someone on one website, and giving them the possibiltiy to look at it in their own time is great.

15/4/2011 1:08

Q.5 What worked well and how do you know it worked?

Showing progress of a project worked well on a blog, especially for film/photography work, and I know it worked well because I've seen peers' work on the blog.

28/4/2011 18:35

as a reflective journal it worked well

24/4/2011 20:25

Editing and uploading videos so people could have a quick glimpse at what I was doing. Developing ideas through writing and having them displayed in a much more accessible place then in my journal so I could have a wider audience read them and reflect upon them. I know it worked becuase I could feel it and people would tell me, oh I love your videos.. or would tell me they had a look at my stuff on the blog and found it really interesting..

15/4/2011 1:10

Q.6 What didn't work well and where could this be improved?

The timetabling could have been more organised (for staff help)

28/4/2011 18:35

being able to upload many types of media file rather than just the basic ones such as mp3 would have helped

24/4/2011 20:25

Most of my posts were created at the last minute. I ran out of time and would have love to have uploaded more reflections, clips and research on other artists. It is easy to write loads of text but I forget how hard it is for people to actually sit down and read something long nowadays. So probably could have been more imaginative with the ways i communicated to people.

15/4/2011 1:13

Q7. Did you use any other online resources to improve your approach to learning, which online resources did you use?

Google

28/4/2011 18:37

processarts.ac.uk

15/4/2011 1:16

Q8. How did these online resources improve your approach to learning?

You can find (mostly) anything on google!! It helps for artist research but actually learning about how to use programmes etc I find it better to talk to staff

28/4/2011 18:37

It was just another way to make my thoughts and work public and was nice to have another place to show my progress and have a different audience view it. I'm not sure what I learnt but I suppose just learnt how to be a bit more professional, and how to upload my work onto various websites.

15/4/2011 1:16

Q9. Would you participate in the creation and use of online resources and learning in future to develop your practice?

Of course

28/4/2011 18:37

Yes definintely, I value this blog and process arts a lot. It is a means to make my work more accessible within a community/group of other artists and the world. It would be great to be able to reflect and see my progress of becoming an artist through the years and recieve feedback about my work via an online website.

15/4/2011 1:20

Q10. Any other feedback you would like to give would be much appreciated.

:)

28/4/2011 18:38

Thank you for making this. Sometimes I think we have too many options, for example when we are making a post, we can decide to post something to the main board, our own blog or someone else's. Maybe we should only have the possibility to post to our own blog? Maybe you could tag people in posts or videos like you can do in facebook? It would be nice to have a photo album design for a post. Or to have a link to photo albums and videos when you go on a certain person's blog.

15/4/2011 1:23

Appendix 2

Staff Feedback

Last year, We ran a pilot blog as part of my action research project - Here's a link to one of the many posts - http://wimbledonfoundationvideoanimationfinalprojects.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2011/03/16/peeling-off-latex-cast-from-found-wood/ :

If you used the blog, could you please feedback the positive and negative aspects of using a blog like this for students to reflect throughout the term, for staff to communicate and view their progress and for supporting assessment.

Tutor 1

Have you ever found it difficult to communicate and keep track of student's progress and development specifically those working in (time based media) film, video and animation in your area?
If YES how do you do this?
If NO what can be done to improve this?
(Shouldn't the questions be the other way round- if NO, how do you do this; if YES, what can be done to improve this?)

NO, I have not found it difficult- I have always encouraged students to make showreels as this is also a good exercise for professional practice. Now I also encourage students to put work on Vimeo as this is easily accessible by others and a good platform for grouping an individual's work. It can also serve as a good alternative to a website and is more flexible and conducive for artists than You-tube. I prefer the aesthetic.
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What barriers if any prevent you from using Web 0.2 websites and blogs in your teaching?
None, other than time it would take for me to keep a blog going, and to set up a website and maintain it although I encourage students to use them to share information and for reflective practice.
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Please indicate how you use or would like to use Web 0.2 websites, blogs or Wiki's in your teaching.
See above. Blogs are good if you want to start a discussion thread or to encourage students to reflect on their practice. Wikis can be good for information and students can add things themselves to it so it encourages them to be proactive around their learning and also to share information. Web 0.2 websites as well encourage a more immediate and communicative platform for sharing information. All these things take up time though to set up and keep going, although once set up their development can be left more in students' hands.
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How would you describe your online digital literacy regarding communicating and publishing teaching materials online for blended learning?

Excellent       ()
Good            (√)
Average         ()
Very Poor       ()
None

Tutor 2

Some of my students used blogs, and they tended to be more exhaustive than those who wrote - maybe they were more switched on students.  There was more integration with their visual research and their thinking.  However, these were few and far between.  I think you will only get round this problem if you made blogs mandatory, and then you would have a problem with students who do not have their own macs/pcs, are disorganised/dyslexic etc.  You would have to run workshops about how to set up blogs.  It never failed to amaze me how many students avoided using macs, even in vis com!  There is always the question about how to reach students who are not fully participating and you have to make it work for them too, not just the switched on pro-active students.  You also have to ask where lecturers would have time to scrutenise blogs.  Some of my students who wrote blogs would send me their links, I would have a quick look at it and think "Oh good, they're doing this" and leave them to it.  I would only pick up on the really bad students who were writing diary-type, process-based blogs and not making it sufficiently visual or self-questioning.

Have you ever found it difficult to communicate and keep track of student's progress and development specifically those working in (time based media) film, video and animation in your area?

If YES how do you do this?

There were the normal difficulties ..... students doing work away from the studio and then turning up with a "finished piece" which has been ill-considered, insufficiently developed, edited, story-boarded etc.  Specifically with film, in that there always seems to be a student who thinks they can rush around with a camera, do a bit of editing and then that's it! The main problem was making sure that students were well prepared and had thought through their idea, the "feel" of their work and how they were going to do this, the pace and narrative of their work.  We set up tutor groups every week where those involved in time-based media had to bring their work, ideas, progress so far etc.  Student in-out was equally important in these grous.  In the end, it came down to the individual student, and how willing they were to listen to advice.  Often they realised afterwards how preparation could help them.

If NO what can be done to improve this?

I think it comes down to the team you are working with.  Maybe it's a matter of discipline so that students who have not produced a storyboard cannot borrow equipment until they've been given the go ahead.  Preparation is something that should be introduced from the beginning (i.e. research, ideas, development) and there is no reason why time based media students should be any different.  They should go and see the Stanley Kubrick archives at lcc and the boxes of research that there are for one film!

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What barriers if any prevent you from using Web 0.2 websites and blogs in your teaching?

Time!

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How would you describe your online digital literacy regarding communicating and publishing teaching materials online for blended learning?

Excellent        ()

Good            ()

Average (x)

Very Poor       ()

None

 

Tutor 3

Have you ever found it difficult to communicate and keep track of student's progress and development specifically those working in (time based media) film, video and animation in your area?

If YES how do you do this?

If NO what can be done to improve this?

On my experience, students that work with time based media tend to be inclined to use blogging as a way of keeping a record of their development and research.  the blog wimbledon foundation video animation fmp has been very effective in this respect as it has enabled not only to maintain individual digital journal of students progress but also facilitate communication between students and staff and enable to share knowledge.

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What barriers if any prevent you from using Web 0.2 websites and blogs in your teaching?

Not always in my studio practice based teaching experience, we have dedicated IT area easy to access for tutors during tutorials. so i mainly had to rely on the use of college laptops which aren't always available.  this may at time prevent using blogs in my teaching.

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Please indicate how you use or would like to use Web 0.2 websites, blogs or Wiki's in your teaching.

For me  blogs and wikis as a space where students and tutors can share knowledge and communicate in a interactive way. it is a valid and effective tool for research, lectures and gathering development of ideas and exchange processes of working.  with regard to my teaching experience with the wimbledon foundation video animation fmp it has also being a practical tool that facilitate booking system of technical equipment for show.

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How would you describe your online digital literacy regarding communicating and publishing teaching materials online for blended learning?

Excellent        ()

Good            X

Average ()

Very Poor       ()

None

 

Tutor 4

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Have you ever found it difficult to communicate and keep track of student's progress and development specifically those working in (time based media) film, video and animation in your area?

If YES how do you do this?

If NO what can be done to improve this?

- the use of a student blog was useful to track development of student work during self study days, but this only showed evidence of digital/on line work. Whilst some feedback can be done via email, one-to-one 'in the flesh' feedback is generally better for clarity - the student can check out tutor feedback in person. The other disadvantage is the absense of paper based sketchbooks, made objects in digital format. Pictures may be uploaded, but these can be misleading.

-however for students interested in film/live performance a blog can also compliment a paper based sketchbook. For example uploading film/music/sound clips makes a digital sketchbook that charts the student research journey, that works alongside the paper version.

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What barriers if any prevent you from using Web 0.2 websites and blogs in your teaching?

- my main barrier is the old and slow computers provided by the university.

-the new Foundation course is proposing the use of student blog as a replacement to the paper based reflective journey. This may work for some students (as mentioned above) but not others who prefer a personalised approach rather than a standardised digital format. E.g. the act of handwriting is important so some students. However blogs provide an immediacy to students who often struggle with maintaining a meaningful reflective journal.

- the main problem with the use of blogs will be during assessment and tutorials where these need to be formally checked. Also during day to day teaching a tutor will ask to see a reflective journal. With no in studio computer provision it is difficult to check these in the context of 'actual' teaching. Of course a tutor can check these away from the studio, but live feedback with verbal emphasis (especially for difficult students) still has more impact than an email.

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Please indicate how you use or would like to use Web 0.2 websites, blogs or Wiki's in your teaching.

- I use blackboard, which is very useful to direct students towards, placing emphasis on their responsibility to keep up to date. I think the current policy of not printing briefs/handouts for students is a little unfair, it also means students don't have hard copies for briefings. The cited environmental reasoning behind this is flawed, as the paper is still used, the only difference is the university transfers the cost of paper and printing onto the student.

- Blogs for students as digital archives and places of reflection will be useful for theatre and film students as clips of productions/performances/films/music/moving images can form a digital sketchbook to compliment the draw paper version. The two have to work together as drawing is still a vital skill and means of communication of a stage/production designer.

-I haven't used Wiki's as yet (unless I have without realising!)

- You still cannot beat live teaching, whilst on line demonstrations have some role during self study days, for a subject area like theatre and film, collaboration and working with others is key, and a skill I actively teach. The 'danger' the transferring more learning on line is the students work independently, away from college and - most basically of all - don't learn from each other.

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How would you describe your online digital literacy regarding communicating and publishing teaching materials online for blended learning?

Excellent        ()

Good            X

Average ()

Very Poor       ()

None

 

Tutor 5

Have you ever found it difficult to communicate and keep track of student's progress and development specifically those working in (time based media) film, video and animation in your area?

If YES how do you do this?

Students working in time based film, video and animation tend to work more independently, and away from college. This may sometimes be due to a lack of suitable working space in college, or, as the nature of their practice is highly mobile, they begin to develop working patterns involving home- working. Its crucial to break this cycle and reconnect with a college environment as students can miss so much from peer learning, crits, professional expertiese and feedback. Typically I would insist on regular contact  with my tutees in a studio envirronment so that film/TBM/Video, can be discused/critiqued in a professional context, and real-time reflection and development is able to take place with advice given on documentation and contextualisation. Individual Learning strategies are therefore crucial within this context.

Outside of this specific studio tutor role, there is a significant  and problamatic issue at assessment stage, when looking for evidence of work, discourse and reflection  particularly  in time based media .The personal/ studio tutor system is an essential  link in deseminatiing the range and quality of "hidden" work to the marking team. Where this doesnt happen, the marks can be flawed, being unrepresentative of a students abilities and progress.  This issue was evidenced a few years ago during assessment where the relevant studio tutor wasnt available to make representation on behalf of their tutee as they werent in on the day of  team assessment. This was compounded by the student  having had littlr tutorial contact with others on the marking team. This particular student had presented the bulk of their TBM work in computer file and hadn't adequately communicated this to the marking team, appear

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