I was struck by the comment of Sarah Kante, a recent UAL graduate, who explained, “What really is missing in an online learning environment are the creative physical environments, the people we meet, and of course, the technicians we all rely on so much.” Coincidentally, the previous evening I had read an interview with CSM technical specialist Billy Dickinson who, when asked about his biggest creative inspiration, replied “The students. It’s inspiring to be constantly surrounded by new ideas and be challenged to support them in finding different ways to realise their visions.” Whilst not wishing to provide a schmaltzy article about an apparent love-in between students and technicians, I do want to highlight how important these reciprocal creative and respectful relationships are, and how vital they are to a successful and socially constructed art and design Higher Education (HE) experience.
Yes, the calibre and commitment of CSM’s technical staff is impressive; they are as good as it gets. But what I want to take for a wander in this post is the concept of mutuality – the active role of the social situation in the spatial context. However, the focus will be the virtual learning environment, i.e. the digital space, so I’m going to shift attention from the emotional creative relationships in the 3D workshop space, and ponder whether the form of social solidarity that Sarah and Billy expressed can be fostered and sustained in an online art and design learning environment. Continue reading