2016 - Volume 35: Number 3
Beneath Our Eyes: An Exploration of the Relationship between Technology Enhanced Learning and Socio-Ecological Sustainability in Art and Design Higher Education (pages 296–306)
This article uses published research to explore how Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) can help to sustain learning communities to engage in creative exploration and open investigation. It then draws on this research to ask: how could we use TEL to support pedagogies of socio-ecological sustainability in the Art and Design education community? Three interrelated themes are explored: learning communities – in developing shared values and supporting investigations around issues of concern; learning spaces – in supporting these communities and their dialogue; and theory – to illustrate and provide language to understand the values, activities and goals of participants. Theory may help us to link the impact of these community activities, supported by TEL, to global issues. This article attempts to initiate an exploration of the fundamental elements required to create pedagogies of socio-ecological sustainability within Art and Design higher education.
An Artist's Anthropological Approach to Sustainability (pages 307–315)
Recent studies of sustainability draw attention to the impact art and culture have on communities. The Earth Charter, which originated in 1968, fostered the idea of ‘a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace’. This article supports the idea that art can make a difference to society and examines four case studies which explore the infra-ordinary within the immensity of social, political, historical and physical non-art places. The stance adopted is that of an artist, anthropologist and storyteller casting light onto a cultural landscape that is so ordinary as to be not noticed at all. Whilst the methodology is slow and often undramatic, this meticulous approach is essential in that it allows the artist to develop a respect for both people and place or, as explained by Kuspit : ‘to recover a sense of human purpose in art making, engaging with the realities of life as it is actually lived’. Whereas All in the Mind was an investigation into the internal and external conflicts and structures within mental institutions and their impact on individual patients’ lives, High Riser questioned central government's approach to housing asylum seekers in Sighthill flats in Glasgow which depersonalised the individuals involved. Sojourn and Inland Waters illuminated the social demographics of a working shipyard environment. Making Visible the Invisible explores the role as a lead artist, involved in the planning stages of an urban development project, as a creative thinker rather than object maker.
Prophetic Nomadism: An Art School Sustainability-Oriented Educational Aim? (pages 316–326)
This discursive article proposes that the learning and teaching regimes provided within art school are uniquely placed within higher education to foster nomads. It suggests, however, that nomadism is not enough. Rather it emphasises that to reconcile art and design education with sustainability, such nomadism needs both to be prophetic and collaboratively based. Prophetic nomads are defined here as mobile, social influencers able to change perspectives through calling forward uncomfortable awakenings. They achieve this by creatively reframing what is at stake if we continue to act and be as we are. The presentation will explore the similarities between key concepts in the literacy of sustainability and the elements of prophetic nomadism. It will challenge us to reconsider these in the light of their potential generation through three ingredients of learning within art and design: reason, aesthetics and making. It will finish by declaring that as educators we should have the courage to more formally craft our pedagogies to call forth (evoke) and push-out (provoke) sustainability-oriented creativity through these domains.
Using an Outdoor Learning Space to Teach Sustainability and Material Processes in HE Product Design (pages 327–336)
FIRTH, RICHARD; STOLTENBERG, EINAR and JENNINGS, TRENT
This ‘case study’ of two jewellery workshops, used outdoor learning spaces to explore both its impact on learning outcomes and to introduce some key principles of sustainable working methodologies and practices. Using the beach as the classroom, academics and students from a Norwegian and Scottish (HE) product design exchange programme collaborated on this international research project. Participants made models from disposable packaging materials, which were cast in pewter, directly into the sand, using found timber to create a heat source for melting the metal. Practical ‘learning by making skills’ created a hands on learning experience that also aimed to contribute to the debate around the concern of the loss of workshop facilities in HE education, and as a consequence a demise in teaching traditional object-making skills and material experimentation.
Active Learning Methods and Technology: Strategies for Design Education (pages 337–347)
The demands in higher education are on the rise. Charged with teaching more content, increased class sizes and engaging students, educators face numerous challenges. In design education, educators are often torn between the teaching of technology and the teaching of theory. Learning the formal concepts of hierarchy, contrast and space provide the critical foundation of a design education. However, without learning the tools (technology) a student will struggle to bring their concept to fruition. This article proposes using active learning techniques, specifically peer learning, as an engaging method to augment teaching technology. Students participated in peer-based exercises throughout the course of a semester, including technology teams, technology checklists and group software challenges. Observations and survey data conclude students comprehension of technology improved and the instructor was afforded time to spend on the teaching of theory and process. Peer learning fosters a collaborative learning community, increases leadership skills and creates lifelong learners. Although these methods were used in a design course, this study can serve as a model for other disciplines that integrate technology in the classroom or for educators seeking active learning methods.
Who Assesses the Assessors? Sustainability and Assessment in Art and Design Education (pages 348–355)
This article draws on recent research from the Pre-Degree Summative Assessment in Art Design and Media Study, conducted at UCL Institute of Education, which found that pre-degree art and design qualifications at levels 3 and 4 vary greatly in their appropriateness as a preparation for degree level study in art subjects. Central to the article are findings concerning external assessment processes and assessor selection and training. The research was commissioned by the awarding body of University of the Arts London in response to the then imminent Department for Education (DFE) directives for additional external assessment in all level 3 and 4 vocational pre-degree programmes. Our research revealed the negative consequences of assessment becoming a bureaucratic process of measuring what is most easily measurable. In such instances it can become a task that is devoid of ‘expert’ knowledge and opinion. As the research demonstrates, the consequences for art education are serious. The title is appropriated from Bourdieu's 1993 sociological examination ‘But who created the “creators”?’ which casts a critical eye on the broader social landscape in which art and artists are produced and imbricated into the wider cultural order. To ask, who assesses the assessors? Is, of course, to ask a different kind of question, but never-the-less it is one which deserves to be opened out to scrutiny beyond the specificity of individual qualifications. This article's contribution argues for a more sustainable and radically transparent assessment regime in which professional expertise can be shared across the UK's secondary, further and higher education continuum.
The Emergence of an Amplified Mindset of Design: Implications for Postgraduate Design Education (pages 356–368)
MOREIRA, MAFALDA; MURPHY, EMMA and MCARA-MCWILLIAM, IRENE
In a global scenario of complexity, research shows that emerging design practices are changing and expanding, creating a complex and ambiguous disciplinary landscape. This directly impacts on the field of design education, calling for new, flexible models able to tackle future practitioners’ needs, unknown markets and emergent societal cultures. In response to design's uncertain contemporary identity, a programme of doctoral research was designed with the aim of identifying distinct approaches to postgraduate design education that could help to prepare future designers for what the thesis terms an Amplified Mindset of Design. This article presents emerging findings from this doctoral research, proposing and evidencing a conceptual framework that synthesises key movements within design, to bring clarity to the current discourse on emerging design practices. The conceptual framework of an Amplified Mindset of Design clusters this discourse into four groups: a world- and human-centred worldview; integrative behaviours, social skills and visualisation. The article closes by discussing this framework in relation to design education, suggesting the Amplified Mindset of Design as a tangible frame of reference to enable the development of design education. In this context it can be used as principles for pedagogical approaches, and as guidelines for curriculum design that fits our changing disciplinary practice within a complex global environment. Furthermore, the authors contend that there is potential to apply this framework outwith the field of design, proposing that other disciplines such as management, economics and medicine could benefit from an educational experience that emphasises an Amplified Mindset.
Sustained Engagement to Create Resilient Communities: How a Collaborative Design Approach can Broker and Mobilise Practitioner–Participant Interaction (pages 369–376)
When conducting research with young people, studies consistently cite the need to establish trust and rapport with participants. However, what frequently goes unreported is how to evolve these often highly fragile research relationships, and the subtle tensions and negotiations that can occur. In this article I reflect on my experience of collaborating with a group of young people, identified by their school teachers as vulnerable and at risk of falling through the educational net post compulsory schooling. Through a reflexive approach, this article explores how the use of a participatory filmmaking method enabled and sustained a research relationship between the participants and myself, outlining how trust and rapport gradually emerged. Drawing on relational ethics, I describe the catalysing and democratising role creativity played in gaining insights into group dynamics and the implicit strategies adopted by the young people in the search for social self-empowerment.
International Students and Ambiguous Pedagogies within the UK Art School (pages 377–383)
This article will consider the tensions and opportunities provoked by the presence of a growing number of international students at UK art schools in which ambiguity operates as an implicit value within fine art pedagogies. Challenging assumptions of lack or deficit this article will ask how responding to this changing student body might require thinking beyond the horizon of normative claims and attitudes of the art school toward a situation in which it is constituted through the divergent perspectives, and pays attention to the previous educational experiences, of its students. I suggest that this requires the art school to address with greater commitment its pedagogical dimension in order to live up to its ‘promise’ as a heterotopic space.
Reflections on the Evolving Triad Tutorial in a Postgraduate Art Studio (pages 384–394)
This article traces the evolution of the ‘triad tutorial’. The triad model, predominantly used in the training of counsellors and psychotherapists, was originally combined with the art school tutorial model in the context of the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to enhance critical discourse between studio holders. The resulting hybrid, the ‘triad tutorial’, was then adapted with postgraduate students on a Master's Fine Art course at a Scottish art school. Drawing on questionnaires from a small pilot study with students, the triad tutorial is described as an evolving model that has enhanced critical discourse between students, increased student confidence and introduced students to a new reciprocal structure of critique. Links are drawn between critical self-reflection, reciprocity and the sustainability of artistic practice. The development of the triad tutorial is described frankly, using the autobiographic timeline of the author to present the model as evolving by trial and error and born of contingency rather than design.