Visual Arts students multimodal choices with Carbonmade in 2010


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An exploration of secondary school students’ multimodal choices with online portfolios in 2010.

It introduces the research area; my 2010 fieldwork and findings. It then gives some initial conclusions and suggestions for future research.

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  • My talk explores secondary school students’ choices with online portfolios.
  • It features preliminary findings from my PhD in Media Studies research at UCT ’ s Centre for Film and Media Studies. I am going to introduce the research area; my 2010 work and findings. Then I will give some initial conclusions and suggestions for future research areas.
  • In just 7 years, online portfolio services have emerged as a new cultural form affording creative professionals and hobbyists opportunities to easily create and maintain digital portfolios of their work. This slide shows the self-reported user bases for four large services.
  • The visually creative disciplines have traditionally been assessed through the use of analogue portfolios; with students producing a set of physical artefacts for a creative showcase. The online portfolio can be used as an adjunct to the traditional portfolio with the important benefits that being digital, online and organised in a database affords.
  • Digitisation and online portfolio publication gives opportunities for students and educators to address some of the limitations specific to analogue media, as shown here. Specific examples that emerged in fieldwork were: In “B”, A student’s laptop-bag, together with his sketchbook, was stolen during sports practice. Since he had digitized some of his sketchbook’s artworks, this work could be reprinted and included in his new sketchbook. With “D”, many students did not label their artwork appropriately, providing poor contextualisation for viewers.
  • Under “E”, the educator has introduced social bookmarking as a way for him, and peers, to give feedback that’s visible on the online portfolios themselves. Under “F”’s drawing bias, although students listed interests in stencil-use, logo-design, graffiti, photo-retouching, etc. these artworks seldom appeared in their portfolios. And for “G”, students can benefit from early exposure to preparing digital portfolios for tertiary education and job applications.
  • As you can see from the e-portfolio definition on this slide, when online portfolios are used by educators and students in media production, they can fulfill the six criteria listed by JISC for being electronic learning portfolios (e-portfolios). 1, an online portfolio product, 2. created by a learner, 3. collecting digitised artwork, 4. describe projects, 5. show learning achievements and 6. supporting learning.
  • The connection to e-portfolios is important, as this discipline is over twenty years old. Helen Barrett are useful to understand the potential and challenges surrounding e-portfolio adoption into K-12 schools in the US. The twenty three case studies collated by Ito and others investigate the intricate dynamics of youth’s social and recreational use of digital media. danah boyd’s work has focused on students’ use of large networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace.
  • Research that informs my exploration of formal curricular use includes: Lankshear and Knobel, who argue that educator’s need support developing an “insider mindset” so that they can better integrate technology into their curricula. Kress and Jewitt, who show that education is reshaped by the multimodal facilities and resources of new technologies, and the importance of rethinking pedagogy when using new tools. Prinsloo and Walton, who reveal the importance of understanding how social context shapes pedagogy with technology and student responses to it in select Western Cape schools. David Buckingham recommends that media production be included in curricula as children make interesting use of new tools when given formal opportunities.
  • Before digital media production can begin with online portfolios, these seven key requirements for curricular adoption may need be met. This suggests the importance of trialing the initial adoptions at well-resourced private and public schools first, then applying learnings from these environments to the more challenging ones at under-resourced schools.
  • In 2010, online portfolios were adopted at an elte, well-resourced school whose students mostly come from affluent homes. It was fortuitous that I proposed the online portfolio to the Visual Arts Head of Deapartment, as his Visual Art Department, like others in the school, are encoruaged to show the value of its one-laptop-per-learning program; the online portfolio tied in well with this aim. It was an adjunct activity that could be added to the syllabus relatively easily; and removed easily if the challenges and hazards of implementation outweighed the pedagogical benefits.
  • After reviewing several online portfolio options, the educator chose Carbonmade, because it met the criteria listed here. One surprise was that unlike services like Deviantart and Behance, Carbonmade does not afford any social networking functionality, which I assumed would be to its disadvantage. However, this was viewed as positive by the educator as he was concerned about potential misuse of feedback by grade 10’s who may not be emotionally mature enough to give constructive criticism. Carbonmade was also approved by the Visual Arts curricular advisers of the DOE.
  • Carbonmade is comprised of three page types: a home page type, artwork project folder page type and artist’s profile. Each afford different options with respect of writing and image choices, which I will go into more detail with when examining specific student choices.
  • Carbonmade was added to the private school’s syllabus through the “Create your e-portfolio” curriculum in 2010. I am currently doing fieldwork on its use with the same class, now in grade 11, in an “Improve your e-portfolio” curriculum, and with a public school’s grade 10’s in a customised version of “Create your e-portfolio” curriculum.
  • I then created reports for every choice and aggregating the results for all students in tables. This table for “online portfolio titles” is an example. It shows 7 variations for types of student name format used. As the wide variety of student choices are very complicated to explain at a group level, I chose to use case studies to focus on the most interesting examples.
  • This can be really useful in analysing complicated examples; like Mohamed Hassan’s impressive “concept and automative art” portfolio’s home page.
  • Multimodality theory is appropriate to explain these case studies’ choices, as it allows me to explore students’ use of individual modes, the combinations of modes, their inter-relationships and how these form part of the whole page created.
  • My thesis uses Multimodality Theory in its first three questions to explore the choices Carbonmade offers, the multimodal choices students make and the resonances of their choices. It also uses Activity theory to describe the problems educators perceive with students choices in the new online portfolio activity system, but that is a topic for another slideshow as I’m sure you’d all like to get home before 6pm tonight!
  • I am going to apply the first three questions in studying three of the most interesting cases from the private school in 2010. These could arguably be defined as a drawing showcase, a mixed media showcase and a media interest portfolio.
  • Being based in social semiotics, multimodality sees all acts of communication as social. So, a Carbonmade student user aims to represent both something in this world whilst also aiming to establish relations with other people. The student’s communication is influenced by the social and cultural contexts in which the communications occur, and student’s perception of them.
  • EG’s example shows the importance of the cultural context of formal Visual Arts classes and Advanced Art society activities in which drawing is emphasized as key in the process of artwork creation. His long profile description lists his enjoyment of art and music, as well as drawing and multimedia. Interestingly, he does not list drawing under “skills”, though. However, “charcoal, graphite, pencil and stencilwork” were all listed under areas of expertise.
  • As you can see from both screengrabs, drawing processes are the most written-about part of his profile.
  • The online portfolio use the conceptual pattern of classification to organise several works within one picture. In terms of resonances, EG’s layout choices are similar to those of a sketchbook. The choice of a white background and hand drawing being key to folder image selections. EG has also selected a three thumbnails per row design layout, which suggests these picture have something in common and that they belong to the same group
  • The role of drawing is also fore-grounded in his choice of still images: he has uploaded eleven drawings and just three works in other media. A different resonance lies in EG’s choices for artwork labeling that is similar to those used by Art Historians (and recommended in their educator’s 2011 guidelines).
  • By contrast to EG, AK speaks of
  • AK uploaded 13 photographic images, compared to 9 in other mediums. The educator’s guidelines listed
  • AH lists his interests as cartooning and logo design; “but you won’t see any of that work here”. Unlike EG and AK, he has not chosen to upload a profile picture, his location, tags for his expertise and skills, or available for freelance. He has also not published his contact details.
  • AH was also the only student in class to foregrounded a “ narrative representation ” for his homepage. This arrangement resonates with sequential comic book art (Eisner, 1985): the order of sampled imagery could be telling a story from top-to-bottom , using; character action, proximity and visual angles (attitude). AH ’ s choices resonates with teenagers ’ typical patterns of profile creation. For most youth, profile creation initially involves piecing together a personal webpage and graphic identity with found materials on the internet (Ito et al. 2010). It is important to consider the influence of Visual Arts teaching on the choices that students did not make: for example, AH could have uploaded a logo to his homepage and word bubbles in custom folder imagery. This would have been consistent with his interests, but has not been included in his teacher’s Visual Art’s curriculum.
  • AH made the greatest use of sampling: of the 12 still images he uploaded, only seven were done by him. This was despite his educator’s clear instructions only to upload digitised versions of his own art.
  • If you are interested in online portfolio adoption in Visual Arts and Design, please follow my blog. I will be publishing this presentation to my account and linking it from a blog post that will go live tonight.
  • I’d also like to thank the DOE’s curricular advisers, educators and schools that I’ve worked with.
  • Visual Arts students multimodal choices with Carbonmade in 2010

    1. 1. Students’ multimodal choices with online portfolios Presentation for the Design Development and Research Conference, Cape Town, 2011 Find more of my presentations on September 21, 2011 This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 South Africa License. Travis Noakes <ul><ul><ul><li>PhD in Media Studies researcher at the </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Centre for Film and Media Studies, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>University of Cape Town. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    2. 2. 0 Presentation structure <ul><li>33 slides: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Media Studies Research Area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2010 Field Research and Findings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initial Conclusions and Areas for Future Research </li></ul></ul>Introduction
    3. 3. 1 “ Freemium ” , easy-to-use online portfolio services Media Studies Research Area Since 2003 several online portfolio services have emerged that enable creative professionals and hobbyists to publish digital portfolios online using Web2.0 technology. There are hundreds of thousands of free members and paying subscribers: Example Number of portfolios * Deviantart 13 000 000 Carbonmade 393 450 Cgisociety 184 784 Coroflot 150 000 * S tats taken from these websites on the 16th of August, 2011 September 21, 2011 CGI Society DeviantArt
    4. 4. 2 Characteristics of traditional and online portfolios Media Studies Research Area Traditional Portfolio Online Portfolio Artist’s statement – Artworks - Curriculum Vitae Analogue A folder comprising original artworks and supporting information. Digital A database comprising digitised imagery and writing choices specified by the user (design format is mostly structured by its software developers). Artwork Folders - Artworks - Creative profile
    5. 5. 3 Limitations and problems with the analogue portfolio mode A. Difficult to assemble > only collated at year-end = difficult for teacher to monitor and for students to envision year-end exhibit = diificult for students to learn from previous year’s students’ examples B. No back-up > One physical object = impossible to replace C. Poor distribution > audience must be in the same space to view it = limited opportunity to study distribution and social reception D. Lack contextualisation > students’ work is often contextualised by exhibition context = missed opportunity to teach more in-depth artwork labeling Media Studies Research Area September 21, 2011 The educator’s 2010 and 2011 curricula have shown the educator that he could use online portfolios to address these concerns.
    6. 6. 4 Limitations and problems with the analogue portfolio mode E. No “marginalia” > educators cannot place feedback directly onto their students’ work = educator’s feedback may be hard to find and not front of mind F. Drawing bias > limited scope for students to include works done with reproduction (i.e. photography) and digital media (i.e. animations) tools = demotivates students with other (non-Fine Art) interests G. May require digitisation for Tertiary education application > students could be inexperienced with digitising versions of their portfolios for tertiary study = for preparation, it would be beneficial to introduce students to practicing digitising artworks and collating online portfolios before they leave school. Media Studies Research Area 2011 and 2012 curricula may enable the educator to identify how useful the online portfolio is (or may be) for addressing these concerns. N.B. Read to learn more!
    7. 7. 5 Online portfolios can be used as e-portfolios Media Studies Research Area An important intention of online portfolio use can be enabling students to create showcase Visual Arts e-portfolios . An “e-portfolio” is defined as a product, created by a learner, which collects digital artefacts and which articulates experiences, achievements and learning (JISC, 2008). Students have used online portfolios as e-portfolios to; collect digitised art and design works, describe their creative projects, define their learning and accomplishments, reflect on their experiences and share their work with online audiences.
    8. 8. 6 Examples of E-portfolio and Social Media research <ul><li>Electronic portfolios </li></ul><ul><li>Hellen Barrett ’ s (2008, 2011) studies into the use of electronic portfolios for life-long learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Formal and informal learning with technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Mimi Ito , et al.’s (2010) research discusses digital media, learning and teenage media use patterns. </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks </li></ul><ul><li>danah boyd ’ s research (2006, 2008) into students’ self presentation and uses of social media. </li></ul>Media Studies Research Area
    9. 9. 7 Examples of research in formal classroom settings <ul><li>Lankshear and Knobel ’ s (2003, 2011) research into new media literacies. </li></ul><ul><li>Kress (1996, 2010) and Jewitt ’ s (2006, 2010) research into the formal use of multimodal resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Prinsloo and Walton ’ s (2008) research into situated responses to the digital literacies of electronic communication in marginal school settings. </li></ul><ul><li>David Buckingham ’ (2003, 2007) research studies in children’s use of new media. </li></ul>
    10. 10. 8 Requirements for online portfolio curricular adoption. <ul><li>School Management and Visual Arts and/or Design Department buy-in </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate computer access </li></ul><ul><li>Availability of scanners, cameras and other peripherals </li></ul><ul><li>Sufficient broadband </li></ul><ul><li>Supportive Information Communication Technology (ICT) policies </li></ul><ul><li>Access to Online Portfolio and related Web 2.0 sites </li></ul><ul><li>In-class support: ideally from a support teacher AND a technician </li></ul>Field Research Well-resourced public and private schools only ?
    11. 11. 9 Phase 1: Elite, well-resourced private school Conveniance sample One laptop per learner school (from grade 9 on). Visual Arts educator who is motivated to include laptops in his syllabi for grade 10, upwards. Well-resourced Visual Arts classroom environment. Affluent students have out-of-class online portfolio access and digitisation support. Field Research September 21, 2011
    12. 12. 10 Criteria for choosing online portfolio software <ul><li>Free (for students’ </li></ul><ul><li>storage needs) </li></ul><ul><li>Easy-to-publish </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate-brand </li></ul><ul><li>Family-friendly </li></ul><ul><li>Popular </li></ul><ul><li>Variety </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable </li></ul><ul><li>Legal (learners’ copyright protected) </li></ul><ul><li>Limited interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Brand association with creative professionals </li></ul>Field Research September 21, 2011
    13. 13. 11 Carbonmade portfolio’s three page types Profile description Image Titled folders of digitised artworks Name Carbonmade About Name Contact details Areas of expertise Skills Artist. Date. Folder Name, Description Artwork Title Tags Client tags 1 Home page 3 Artwork Project Folder Page 2 Artist’s profile Work Carbonmade Artist. Date. Availability for freelance Field Research September 21, 2011
    14. 14. 12 Carbonmade for e-portfolio curricula Prepared by Travis Noakes September 21, 2011 Combined Analysis 2010 2011 Create your e-portfolio Improve your e-portfolio less-well-resourced public school’s Class of 2013 well-resourced private school’s Class of 2012 Create your e-portfolio WCED VAD’s curricular advisers’ input Field Research 18 students’ choices 15 students’ choices 12 students’ choices Visual Arts educators’ feedback Same software, similar curricula
    15. 15. 13 Capturing student’s choices <ul><li>Took screengrabs of each and every online portfolio page that the 18 students had created with Carbonmade. </li></ul><ul><li>Used screengrabs of the educator’s free (“Meh!”) Carbonmade membership to list all the choices his students could have possibly made. </li></ul><ul><li>Used Nvivo 9 software to define and code all students’ choices from top to bottom, left to right for the three kinds of Carbonmade page: Home , About and Project Folder Artwork . </li></ul>Field Research
    16. 16. 14 Example: A tablulation of all 18 student’s choices for portfolio title Field Research Despite students following the same curriculum, using the same software and receiving the same guidelines from their educator, there was a wide variety of choice for most written fields and in imagery used. This should not be suprising for students (a creative class) who have made the unconventional choice of doing Visual Art!
    17. 17. 15 Using Multimodal theory to describe multimedia choices Multimodality is a form of semiotics: a theory for the analysis of sign systems, or modes of communication. (Burn and Parker, 2005). Its aim is to understand how we communicate with each other in many different ways, some of them mediated through the human body; others mediated through various technologies. Media Studies Research Area September 21, 2011 Artist. Date. Modes of Carbonmade’s Home page Design Writing Still image Colour Moving image Hyperlinks Image sourced from A “mode” is a socially shaped and culturally given semiotic resource for making meaning. Kress (2010).
    18. 18. 16 Common semiotic principles and systematic description Media Studies Research Area September 21, 2011 Multimodality theory looks for semiotic principles common to all forms of communication that are relevant in any given instance. The theory looks for ways to describe systematically how these modes relate to each other: how the meaning of words might be changed by accompanying images.
    19. 19. 17 PhD in Media Studies’ Research Questions September 21, 2011 Prepared by Travis Noakes Field Research <ul><li>What are the modal choices that the online portfolio software, Carbonmade, affords ? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the multimodal choices that grade 10 Visual Arts students made using Carbonmade? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the resonances of the online portfolio choices that students made? </li></ul><ul><li>What problems did the educator perceive with select modal choices and how can these be explained by the contradictions and tensions that result from a change to the traditional class ’ rules, division of labour and community in the new Visual Arts class ’ online portfolio activity system. </li></ul>
    20. 20. 18 Three case studies Field Research <ul><li>EG’s Visual Arts E-portfolio Drawing Showcase </li></ul><ul><li>AK’s Visual Arts E-portfolio Mixed Media Showcase </li></ul><ul><li>AH’s Teen Media Interest Portfolio </li></ul>
    21. 21. 19 A social theory of communication Multimodality is rooted in social semiotics (Hodge and Kress, 1988), a theory of sign-making that sees all acts of communication as social. The sign maker may be driven to represent something in this world or by the need to establish relations with other people. In practice both functions are performed, whatever the emphasis. The sign-makers communications also depend upon the social and cultural contexts in which the communication occurs. Analyses of the semiotic structures of texts produced by students, must therefor try and relate the analysis to these contexts to determine the interests that motivate the communications under scrutiny. Media Studies Research Area September 21, 2011
    22. 22. 20 EG’s creative orientation in “About” Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Drawing Showcase Emotional Drawing Other medium interests Tag choices not prescribed in 2010
    23. 23. 21 EG’s creative interests in “About” Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Drawing Showcase Drawing
    24. 24. 22 EG’s homepage: Drawing showcase Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Drawing Showcase White background choice resonates with a sketchpad (versus black, the default choice) Drawing is key to the folder cover’s imagery
    25. 25. 23 EG’s “Extra Mural Art Work” Project Folder example Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Drawing Showcase EG uploaded eleven drawings with just three works created in other media Detailed description
    26. 26. 24 AK’s creative interests in “About” Art mediums Emotional Photography Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Mixed Media Showcase
    27. 27. 25 AK’s homepage overview: Mixed Media showcase photography graphic design drawing painting? Top: most salient Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Mixed Media Showcase Choices of a black backdrop and one thumbnail per row is closer to a cinematic experience. Bottom: least salient
    28. 28. 26 AK’s “Extra Mural Art Work” Project Folder example Field Research: Visual Arts E-portfolio Mixed Media Showcase Camera type and lens Photographic tag Entire folder contained 13 photographic images, compared to 9 in other mediums.
    29. 29. 27 AH’s creative interests in “About” Non-Visual Art interests Field Research: Media Interest Showcase Visual Culture interests
    30. 30. 28 AH’s homepage overview Game scene 1 scene 2 scene 3 scene 4 Field Research: Media Interest Showcase Opening folder Imagery sourced from the computer game, Mirror ’ s Edge (2008). Resonates with teenagers ’ typical patterns of profile creation
    31. 31. 29 AH’s “Extra Mural Art Work” Project Folder example Field Research: Media Interest Showcase O f the 12 images he uploaded, five were appropriated.
    32. 32. 30 Initial Conclusions Initial Conclusions Research perspective There is value in combining multimodal and database-choice analysis to understand the choices youth make with digital media. Students ’ choices reflected the interests (or orientation ) described in their profiles: drawing, mixed-media use and teen media practices (gaming). Pedagogical perspective Educators and other decision makers should accommodate a variety of student interests when designing e-portfolio syllabi. As a result, it is recommended that these syllabi include a broad and flexible range of guidelines. These should best enable students to showcase the particular mediums, subject-matters or themes that their personal interests favour.
    33. 33. 31 Areas for future research Areas for Future Research <ul><li>2011 and 2012. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the multimodal choices made online portfolios and how these choices reflect personal interests and motivations, e-portfolio syllabi and the software used and resonate with other genres. </li></ul><ul><li>Describe emergent varieties of Visual Arts and Design e-portfolios by medium , subject and/or theme . </li></ul><ul><li>Use Activity Theory to explain the background to select examples of students’ modal choices being perceived as problematic by Visual Arts educators. </li></ul>
    34. 34. 32 Areas for future research <ul><li>2013, onwards. </li></ul><ul><li>Research students’ online portfolio choices in new curricula , such as “Get your online portfolio ready for post-school opportunities”. </li></ul><ul><li>Research student’s choices with new tools , like for social bookmarking. </li></ul><ul><li>Research how Visual Arts educators must modify their pedagogy to better accommodate new tools (i.e. using peer-to-peer learning, self-publication and incorporating student feedback) </li></ul><ul><li>Research less well-resourced public and private schools to learn about the multimodal choices, challenges and opportunities in more typical South African schooling environments. </li></ul>Image sourced from Image sourced from
    35. 35. 33 For research updates, go to .
    36. 36. 34 Thanks for your time  ! National Research Foundation. Grantholders Research Fund. University of Cape Town, Department of Film and Media Studies. Dr Marion Walton Digimobs SA Research Group Multimodal Research Group Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Department of Informatics and Design. Prof Johannes Cronje & Educational Technology MA & PhD Colleagues September 21, 2011 Prepared by Travis Noakes and to this research’s supporters: