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morning presentations and discussion sessions

Photographs from morning sessions

Sessions 1 - 7 - took place from 11.15 to 12.30


Session 1

Creative work and higher education: Industry, identity, passion, and precarity

Dr Daniel Ashton

Senior Lecturer in Media Communications, Bath Spa University

Daniel Ashton session 

Daniel Ashton session
This session considered the importance of ‘identity’ for exploring the ways in which students relate to themselves as future media and creative industries workers. Noting a range of government policy reports (e.g. Creative Britain, 2009) that identify higher education as a key site in the formation and development of labour for the ‘creative economy’, this session explores the possibilities of how higher education students can relate to themselves as creative workers in-the-making.

The session introduced emerging research on identity and work, and pedagogic practices that extend concepts of ‘employability’ and ‘industry learning’ to locate ethical concerns around working practices as relevant for students. The discussion sought to explore the following question: how are students able to articulate their passions and career aspirations alongside a recognition and responsiveness to the unethical and amoral aspects of work in the creative and media industries?

Session 2
Project: Film-based resource promoting a ‘strengths’ approach to learning

Dr Gary Pritchard
Senior Lecturer in Arts and Humanities, University of Wales

Gary Pritchard session 

Opening slide Gary Pritchard presentation

Strengths-based approaches to learning have shown early promise as a potential tool for engaging students with the broadest notion of their learning, and specifically in building confidence. Identifying and nurturing students’ talents and strengths motivates them to become engaged in the learning process because it underscores their feelings of competence and provides them with the confidence that they can successfully apply those strengths to the challenges they face. Operating from a foundation of strengths, students approach their academic tasks with higher levels of motivation and a sense of direction, and thus are more likely to become engaged in the learning process.

Such an approach challenges deficit remediation programmes that operate on the basis of encouraging students to work on perceived weaknesses as the basis for academic progression (Plucker et al 2006; Perin 2006). As Anderson and Schreiner (2004) state, “Research …  has led to a potentially revolutionary discovery: individuals who focus on their weaknesses and remediate them are only able to achieve “average” performance at best; they are able to gain far more—and even to reach levels of excellence—when they expend comparable effort to build on their talents. This discovery is of enormous import to higher education...” (p. 4)

Anderson E. C. & Schreiner L. A. (2004) Strengths-based advising. Gallup Organization.
Perin, D. (2006). Can community colleges protect both access and standards? The problem of remediation. Teachers College Record, 108(3), 339-373.
Plucker, J A., Wongsarnpigoon, R. L, & Houser, J. H (2006). Examining College Remediation
Trends in Indiana.” Education Policy Brief 4.5 (Spring 2006): 1-10.  Cabrillo College Library, Aptos, CA. 7
October 2006.


Session 3

The Class of 2012: engaged students or consumers?

Dr Christine Hardy
Principal Lecturer/Learning and Teaching Coordinator for the School of Art and Design, Nottingham Trent University

Christine Hardy session



Opening slide Daniel Ashton presentation


"We are now entering uncharted territory and none of us can predict exactly how the new higher fees will affect student behaviour"  (Sir Martin Harris, Director of Offa, 8.3.11)


In 2009 the National Union of Students advocated a ‘communities of practice’ approach to drive up quality, more recently (2011), Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students has moved the debate to one of increasing consumer rights for students, calling for financial compensation for students if courses are below standard …

The benefits of Communities of Practice within education are well documented leading to students being more engaged with their learning, more satisfied with their experiences and displaying a deeper level of learning.  Pedagogic practices in Art and Design can encourage their development, thus encouraging students to be engaged with their learning rather than consumers of it. 

This discussion focused on student engagement and specific art and design practices that build communities of practice internally within the school, externally and over the lifetime of students (Wenger 2006)


Session 4

The ‘Producers’ Panel’: enhancing formative feedback through industry engagement in group critique

Liam Wells

Course Leader, FdA / BA (Hons) Film & Video, Norwich University College of the Arts

Liam Wells

  Opening slide Liam Wells presentation
When the model/ format of group critique is balanced and appropriately timed and judged it can be the site of wide and varied learning opportunities, informing and enhancing the student experience. Whilst the group critique can inform a range of aspects of student learning, from theory/ practice articulations, negotiation and debating skills through to peer feedback, the value of the critique as an industry focused learning experience is often over-looked outside of critiques linked to ‘live’ projects.

The “Producers’ Panel’ is an ongoing project developed as in the context of a ADM Teaching Fellowship to explore models of student engagement with industry within the group learning environment of the critique. Using the ‘story-pitch’, used widely in film industries, to enhance students understanding of film industry practices commissioning and funding, the Producers’ Panel engages students directly with producers, film festival staff, screen agencies and industry professionals in craft based roles. Students gain the opportunity to explore their own film practice in relation to ‘real world’ considerations such as audience, economics and media format through formative feedback with industry professionals.


Session 5

Squinting - trying to see things clearer

Jake Abrams
Principal Lecturer in Illustration & Animation, Kingston University
Jake Abrams session  

Opening slide Daniel Ashton presentation

Cheeky, irreverent, thought provoking; we’ve managed to create digital interfaces that subvert the norm. Deliberately railing against established protocol, Jake and his colleagues tried to turn the technology upside down and by so doing they engaged a studio course, then a Faculty and then a University. They set out to puncture a drab paradigm and to produce work of pluck, innovation and irreverence appropriate to art and design education.

Although institutions of art and design employ creative people generally open to innovation, often involving as yet untried technologies, recent experiences of educational technology implementation has indicated that change to learning and teaching practices is more, not less, problematic than in other faculties. Individual and group interviews with academic staff from FADA had revealed a range of objections to VLEs: aesthetic (‘poor design of user interface’), pedagogic (‘studio culture’s all about students making things along side one another’, ‘creativity can’t be taught over the internet’) political (‘who owns what’s on Bb?’, ‘what are the implications of its usage for staff?’) and economic (‘how much is this a replacement for contact hours?’, ‘students know the difference between an online and a studio-based course’).

The deployment of a small team of e-developers enabled the creation of bespoke Blackboard sites across the faculty with different departments gaining ownership and having active and independent voice on functionality, purpose and presentation. Courses articulated their individuality and creative autonomy whilst faculty resources such as workshops, printmaking, digital photography, moving image and academic skills support gained charismatic digital reinforcement. We set out to actively embrace the institutional technology by subverting its primary logic; twisting it to actually assist, not supplant studio-based creativity and community. The VLE portal points outwards towards a range of digital visual resources but crucially points inwards towards the studio encouraging participation and human interaction in this threatened space.

Amongst innovations in FADA, this presentation paid particular attention to the evolution of the Blackboard site for the BA in Illustration and Animation. Jake described the development of a range of tools that were initially tutor-centric but which are now beginning to embrace more student-centric models of sharing and collaboration. Provocative galleries, interjections on the generation of ideas, ‘the cult of the who?’ are just some of recent impious additions.


Session 6

Mental pictures – and their implications for higher education


Session 7

 feedback report on session 7