The moodle experience

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Moodle, the UAL’s new virtual learning environment (VLE) has been operational for about a year now. Each course has a site, and students can use it to check timetables, download files or access a brief, for example. To introduce a VLE into any institution at a time of rapid socio-technical flux can be problematic, especially with so many competing digital platforms vying for students’ attention, such as Facebook, Google Tools, Twitter, or blogs.

In this article Sarah Kante takes a look at the user experience of Moodle, asks a range of students – the primary audience – how they use it and what they think of it, and tries to understand how this very important educational tool might be improved. Continue reading

Data Jam at Open Data Institute

Restless Futures Data JamThe hottest day of the year so far, the FA Cup Final and the Data Jam event at the Open Data Institute all coincided on 17 May 2014 in London. Enough has been written about Arsenal’s victory, so this post concentrates on the creative exploration of open data.

As part of Central Saint Martins’ Restless Futures programme, UAL’s Charlotte Webb organised a workshop with the ODI, for curious students and staff to collaboratively and creatively engage with the possibilities of open data. Continue reading

What does it mean to be digitally literate in the world of Hip Hop?

Dr Dre on stage. Creative Commons copyright https://www.flickr.com/photos/yoyo/12076130315/

Dr Dre on stage. Creative Commons copyright https://www.flickr.com/photos/yoyo/12076130315/

University of the Arts London journalism student, James Childs, is exploring some of the ways in which digital technologies have impacted upon, and are influencing, the practices of the Hip Hop community. He is doing so in order to explore what digital literacy means in an holistic sense, what are the different forms of digital literacy that a creative community displays and how might their experience help other artistic communities to understand their own evolving relationships with digital technologies? What does it mean to be digitally literate in the world of Hip Hop?

For his first article James spoke with Fatawu Issah, a Hip Hop enthusiast and fan. Continue reading

The Bigger Picture of Design

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Design practices do not exist in their own little bubbles. They exist in relation to the ‘bigger picture’ of the world we live in. To address the many cultural, social and environmental issues that designers must consider, CSM runs the collaborative ‘Bigger Picture’ project for second year students in the Autumn Term. Design students from Product, Graphics, Ceramics and Architecture work together, and use a blog to work towards a collective understanding of big issues.

In this article, Sarah Kante looks at what the Big Picture is for designers, as well as how blogs might mediate collaboration.

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Online learning: mutuality and desire

 

Copyright Svala Regnars, MA Photojournalism, LCC

Copyright Svala Regnars, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, LCC


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

Exploring online learning for art and design

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As we are well aware, digital technologies have impacted massively upon the ways in which students learn, and how they engage with one another and with the University. The learning landscape is morphing, and technologies are playing an instrumental part, e.g. the rapid expansion of online learning provision through MOOCs, the phenomenal use of YouTube as an informal learning platform, Google’s new Helpout offering, and an array of other online initiatives – all available across multiple personal devices.

In this turbulent world where much formal and informal learning is undertaken online, Sarah Kante takes a swift look at MOOCs, e-learning, and ponders: what is a good online learning experience, and how can it be applied to art and design courses?

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Commonplace: student survival guide

Commonplace

Commonplace

University of the Arts London’s (UAL) Siobhan Clay manages the digital platform ‘commonplace’ that has had over a quarter of a million hits. Here she discusses the project.

“When asked to write about commonplace for the Digital Present Blog it seemed like particularly good timing. I was due to give a short presentation to Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon student ambassadors, so this was a good refresher, and it had also been some time since I’d been asked to articulate the project to colleagues and students – so a great opportunity to engage with a potentially new audience who might not know about it and might want to get involved, so here goes… Continue reading

Digital literacy: alternative virtual learning environments

Workflow e-portfolio digital environment

Workflow e-portfolio digital environment

In order to continue the exploration of digital literacy within an art and design HE setting, this post focuses on online distance learning. In particular it mulls over alternative perspectives and seeks fresh ‘ways-in’ that may help to adjust our collective e-Learning spectacles.  As such, it is hoped that a stroll around virtual learning environments (VLEs), and alternative online environments, will prove useful. Desire and virtual communities are the conceptual areas framing this swift adventure. So, one question might be ‘are there valuable insights to be gleaned from alternative virtual spaces that could influence the ways we provide for students online at Central Saint Martins?’ Continue reading

Digital literacy and digital jargon

Untitled10Following on from Digital Present’s article about the meaning of data, this post tries to reveal the meaning of digitally related institutional jargon. UAL’s Digital Integration into Arts Learning project (DIAL) has been doing much work over the past two years investigating multiple aspects of digital literacy within arts and design HE. In the DIAL project year one evaluation report an issue was raised of “structural presentation and communication beyond DIAL’s immediate interlocutors within UAL and beyond JISC.  There is a tendency to assume a shared understanding of terminology and of decisions to change use: for example ‘open educational resources’ have at different times been called ‘open education’ and ‘open resources’.” (Year one DIAL Evaluation Report Duna Sabri October 2012). Continue reading