Extending the University 'community': Integrating Research, Learning and Community Engagement


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In this seminar I explore the challenges facing universities when trying to live up to their commitments towards community engagement and the transformation of the social, cultural and economic environment in the regions they serve. I focus on how the University needs to extend beyond the confines of its campuses and the importance of the curriculum being adaptable to respond to external drivers. I draw on two participatory arts and media projects that I led on behalf of UWS to highlight the opportunities and threats that exist when the University takes its research and learning activities outside the lecture theatre or seminar room - physically and virtually. I will stress that whilst universities rightly focus on the delivery of formal, accredited learning they can also make a significant contribution to their constituencies through the realm of informal learning and the production (and circulation) of open educational resources. I will talk about two externally funded practice-research projects that included significant internal stakeholder involvement across UWS. The first of these is citizenrelay, a project that made an impact on the practices of the University by recruiting students as producers of content, providing them with opportunities for volunteering and other paid employment and that brought about discussion of curriculum changes as a result. Second, I will focus on an ongoing project, Digital Commonwealth, which takes UWS staff and students outside the boundaries of their traditional practice by working with community groups and organisations in the regions around our four campuses and beyond to deliver formal and informal learning in the fields of creative practice (songwriting, filmmaking, creative writing), journalism and community development.

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Extending the University 'community': Integrating Research, Learning and Community Engagement

  1. 1. Extending the University 'community': Integrating Research, Learning and Community Engagement Professor David McGillivray School of Creative & Cultural Industries, UWS @dgmcgillivray
  2. 2. Me - Predominantly a researcher with interests in event and digital cultures - Also Joint Faculty Post Holder with Centre for Academic Practice & Learning Development (CAPLed) - Chair of Student Experience Learning & Teaching Forum (SELT) - Interested in ‘practice-led’, ‘practice-based’ research & wider L&T benefits
  3. 3. External drivers - Teaching and learning in ‘public’ - Changing learning environments - not always on campus: - Social/digital media bringing outside in - Emergence of porous institutions - ‘Mobile’ pedagogies: esp in creative/media education - External funding pressures: making R & KE work for staff/students
  4. 4. Internal drivers - ‘Situated learning’: in creative practice - Embedding UWS in (learning) communities (of practice and place) - Employability/WRL: real world experiences - Extension of research into online and social media ‘communities’ and event cultures (http://www.creativefutur.eu/) - Challenging orthodoxy of the University (estate) as the predominant space of learning
  5. 5. CASE STUDY 1: #citizenrelay Journalism, events, creative practice 60 reporters Smartphones & flip cams Mobile newsroom (a minibus) June 2012 Olympic Torch Relay
  6. 6. Small, alternative or citizen media offers space for the digitally empowered citizen to break stories, become media makers and storytellers of the now digital tools permit flattened hierarchies, enabling citizens to participate in leisure cultures (e.g. mega events) to subvert controlled narratives and create alternative, localised readings outside of commercial media platforms The theory
  7. 7. #citizenrelay used a hybrid media environment, including blogs and social media, to mobilise, organise and discuss issues pertaining the Olympic Torch Relay in real time
  8. 8. Integrated media
  9. 9. Partnership
  10. 10. Alternative Learning Spaces
  11. 11. Open data
  12. 12. Connectedness
  13. 13. Locality
  14. 14. Curriculum lag
  15. 15. Curriculum lag Knowledge gaps Industry standard Flexible curriculum
  16. 16. Outcomes: - Generated public engagement - Generated conversations (digital media/literacy/policy, research impact) - Generated reputational capital (inside/outside)
  17. 17. Case study 2: Digital Commonwealth (@DigCW2014) Building on strong foundations
  18. 18. Creative response to the Commonwealth (Games) from across Scotland, involving diverse range of individuals/communities Community media clusters -community media cafes and digital storytelling workshops Schools programme - in-school digital storytelling workshops with primary and secondary learners in Scotland’s 32 local authorities Creative voices - documentary film, creative writing and community songwriting around UWS campuses
  19. 19. Digital Common Wealth Digital Common Wealth Themes Place - local, national, international, virtual People - diversity, migration, participation Culture - language, art, music, film, literature, sport - Exchange - common-weal, values, learning
  20. 20. Project principles ‘common-weal’   Common (s) purpose   Ownership   Collaboration   Sharing  Accessibility Archiving
  21. 21. Embedding Faculty Employing students/graduates Informing curriculum
  22. 22. Piloting OER & Open Badges
  23. 23. Research ‘impacts’
  24. 24. Practice impacts
  25. 25. Concluding thoughts - If strategic, opportunity to bring University closer to its constituencies - Curriculum needs to be flexible enough to permit student involvement - Knowledge exchange/transfer can be more than a third leg venture BUT requires detailed planning - Sustainability of collaborations/partnerships vital but resource intensive - Institutional rhetoric needs to be backed up with appropriate systems and support
  26. 26. Thank you & questions david.mcgillivray@uws.ac.uk http://www.citizenrelay.net http://www.digitalcommonwealth.co.uk