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BloggingAn alternative to traditional essays for art and design                       students                Chris Byrne,...
The problem                  Conventional essay format•   Favours those with strong aptitude for academic writing•   Perce...
Search for alternatives•   Writing PAD•   Practice from colleagues in DJCAD and other UK art    colleges
Possible alternatives•   Mind mapping•   Reflective journals•   Visual essays•   Blogs
Alternatives to essay allow             (to a greater or lesser extent)•   Broader contextual research•   Visual thinking ...
The risks of abandoning        conventional essay•   Loss of academic rigour•   Wooly thinking, less precision•   Unclear ...
Reducing risk                  Setting the conditions•   Imposing minimum requirements•   Addressing criteria•   Acknowled...
Master of Fine Art                    Practice Context•   Small group, only 15 students in total on the course.•   Part of...
Master of Fine Art                   Successes & Issues•   Most students who chose to blog engaged with critical    writin...
Master of Fine Art                   Support & Feedback•   Workshop at start of course provided tools and    methods for g...
Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
Master of Fine Art                   Questions arising•   Too many choices?•   Too open and broad a brief?•   Blurred boun...
Communication Design           Context                  Undergraduate Level 2•   Larger number of students, 59 in total.• ...
Communication Design            Context                          Why a blog?•   Allows incorporation of audiovisual elemen...
Communication Design           Context                   Successes & Issues•   Most students engaged with the process of c...
Communication Design           Context                  Support & Feedback•   Workshop at start of course helped students ...
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
Communication Design           Context                    Questions arising•   Too many outputs for the module overall?•  ...
Communication Design           Context                    Goals going forward•   Reduce outputs of module to one: blog.•  ...
Sources consulted during the          project•   Atkinson, Terry and Claxton, Guy, eds. The intuitive practitioner: on the...
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Blogging test 2

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Blogging test 2

  1. 1. BloggingAn alternative to traditional essays for art and design students Chris Byrne, DJCAD
  2. 2. The problem Conventional essay format• Favours those with strong aptitude for academic writing• Perceived as dry, traditional• A&D has high proportion of dyslexic students• Limited scope for visual thinking• Linear text• Formal structure• Focussed around response to central question
  3. 3. Search for alternatives• Writing PAD• Practice from colleagues in DJCAD and other UK art colleges
  4. 4. Possible alternatives• Mind mapping• Reflective journals• Visual essays• Blogs
  5. 5. Alternatives to essay allow (to a greater or lesser extent)• Broader contextual research• Visual thinking made explicit• Intuitive responses and use of tacit knowledge• Reflection on relevance of theory and history to practice• Non-linear text• Less formal structures
  6. 6. The risks of abandoning conventional essay• Loss of academic rigour• Wooly thinking, less precision• Unclear focus• Lack of citations and references• Losing the point of assignment• Broad but shallow research• Confusing or chaotic structure
  7. 7. Reducing risk Setting the conditions• Imposing minimum requirements• Addressing criteria• Acknowledgement of sources• Relevance• Critical enquiry
  8. 8. Master of Fine Art Practice Context• Small group, only 15 students in total on the course.• Part of a wider Context Mapping Project.• Blog was only one (optional) element.• Brief quite open.
  9. 9. Master of Fine Art Successes & Issues• Most students who chose to blog engaged with critical writing and analysis.• Students were sometimes unsure which output to choose.• Sometimes a confusion over boundaries between context mapping and studio sketchbook work.• One student was much more visually driven, with little commentary or analysis.
  10. 10. Master of Fine Art Support & Feedback• Workshop at start of course provided tools and methods for gathering contextual information about creative works• Students were able to sign up for one-to-one tutorials most weeks of the course.• Continuing feedback helped guide and shape delivery of the blog project.• Students who successfully delivered the blog benefitted from feedback.
  11. 11. Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
  12. 12. Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
  13. 13. Example of student blog, MFA, 2010
  14. 14. Master of Fine Art Questions arising• Too many choices?• Too open and broad a brief?• Blurred boundaries with studio research processes?
  15. 15. Communication Design Context Undergraduate Level 2• Larger number of students, 59 in total.• Blog is a distinct, mandatory output for the module. A second distinct output, a research poster, was produced.• Brief mentions content of lectures as a starting point, but also allows inclusion of other types of material.• Still a fairly open brief, a bit more directed than postgraduate level.• Students were given a choice of three blog platforms: Blogger, Tumblr or Wordpress.
  16. 16. Communication Design Context Why a blog?• Allows incorporation of audiovisual elements, linking to external sources.• Less formal than an essay or review, more flexible than a paper journal, with possibility to edit, revise or expand sections retrospectively.• Public exposition of thinking and writing on internet, sharing of ideas rather than hiding them away.• Still possible to be critical, rigorous and use academic referencing conventions where appropriate.• less daunting than task of writing an essay, writing appears in chunks, gradually over time.
  17. 17. Communication Design Context Successes & Issues• Most students engaged with the process of critical reflection, using the lecture programme as a jumping off point.• A minority did not engage with the lectures in their writing, and/or produced primarily image driven blogs, using uncritical or re-blogged material.• A particular problem with those using the Tumblr platform.
  18. 18. Communication Design Context Support & Feedback• Workshop at start of course helped students set up their blog and create the first post.• Seminars allowed discussion of context themes and peer feedback.• Individual written formative feedback to students half way through the module.
  19. 19. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  20. 20. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  21. 21. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  22. 22. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  23. 23. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  24. 24. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  25. 25. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  26. 26. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  27. 27. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  28. 28. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  29. 29. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  30. 30. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  31. 31. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  32. 32. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  33. 33. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  34. 34. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  35. 35. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  36. 36. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  37. 37. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  38. 38. Example of student blog, CDC, 2011
  39. 39. Communication Design Context Questions arising• Too many outputs for the module overall?• Too open and broad a brief?• Not aligned sufficiently with lectures?• Blurred boundaries with studio research processes?• An exercise in interface design?
  40. 40. Communication Design Context Goals going forward• Reduce outputs of module to one: blog.• Revisit the brief to clarify focus.• Tie the activity into the lecture programme more closely.• Complement studio research without duplicating it.• Restrict blog platform choice to aid consistency.• Emphasise simplicity and clarity of interface style.• Ask students to identify (with tags) the most relevant blog posts for feedback and assessment.
  41. 41. Sources consulted during the project• Atkinson, Terry and Claxton, Guy, eds. The intuitive practitioner: on the value of not always knowing what one is doing. Buckingham: Open University Press, 2000• Bolton, Gillie. Reflective practice :writing and professional development. Los Angeles; London: Sage, 2010• Mezirow, Jack. Fostering critical reflection in adulthood :a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.• Mason, John. Researching your own practice :the discipline of noticing. London: Routledge Falmer, 2002.

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