October 17, 2015
I’ll confess my thoughts previously on being a remote conference attender resembled my thoughts on eating reduced-calorie diet food. Though the format wants to convince me otherwise…I can’t help but feel I’m missing out on basically all the good stuff and rather than satisfy, I just end up craving the real thing even more. Watching an often tech issue riddled live stream just makes me envious of all the people who are actually there and…makes me feel even more isolated.
I’m very happy to say that after day one of dLRN…I’m becoming a believer in the remote. There’s nothing diet about my experience thus far, indeed between the excellent live stream, abundant Virtual Connect sessions I’ve been fortunate to pop in and out of, and a robust Twitter feed it has been much the opposite—a feast of new ideas and even more, new connections.
Though I know there’s powerful magic in the transporting experience of “going to” a conference and getting jazzed about new ideas, I am learning there’s also much to be said for the somewhat subtle magic that occurs when a conference essentially comes to you. Its presence—like that of an out of town visitor—causes you to see your daily life with new eyes.
In the former “going to” paradigm, ideas spark thoughts, thoughts spark speculations, speculations spark reflections, and these reflections may or may not bleed over into my daily post conference life. In the latter “welcoming in” paradigm, the embedded context means ideas spark and directly ignite action. Part of me feels the immediacy is thrilling and the other part of me feels mildly schizophrenic, as I’m simultaneously assimilating two narratives.
The dLRN day one morning discussions of student agency were followed by an afternoon spent with actual students. An afternoon spent actually being an adjunct followed morning discussions of adjunct and casual labor policy. Engaging heady conference ideas while simultaneously living within the messy context of an average Friday created a beautiful (albeit somewhat inconvenient) weaving of experiences.
It will be interesting to see how the dLRN post-conference process unfolds for me. Have the ideas wound themselves deeper into me because I’ve encountered them in the context of my daily life rather than in a place far away? Or are the ideas more transient because I’ve engaged with them between dog walks and cooking—as background to running and doing laundry? How does the experience of physically leaving a place compare to the experience of closing a browser window and unfollowing a hashtag? How can the tension I’m experiencing help me empathize with my online students who are essentially doing something similar in the courses I facilitate?
But…those are all questions for later as day two is fast approaching. For now I am quite certain (and quite thankful) that in the right hands and with the right care…being a remote conference attender really can be an epic feast.
October 3, 2015
The past several weeks I’ve been very studious in identifying both research gaps and my own hunches about art and design learning. Basically there’s a whole chunk of literature that presents the physical studio as the hallowed arts learning environment based on tradition, history, etc. and relationships developed there through face to face critique as being key to artist development. Then there’s another (somewhat smaller) chunk of literature looking at how students are using social media to circumvent traditional studio structures by sharing resources, giving informal critique, carrying on a backchannel to the formal studio etc. Finally there’s a very small chunk of literature looking at the impact of how artist-educators who use network practices to collaborate in their own art bring that influence into their teaching practice.
Though I believe in the power of a face to face studio and the learning community that develops this way…I don’t think that geographic proximity in a studio setting matters as much in creating community, conducting critique, and overall art/design learning as many educators think. It’s an odd disconnect to me that art+design learning resides so heavily in physical spaces yet for students to succeed outside of school, they need to at least have basic knowledge of presenting themselves and their work in online spaces and collaborating/connecting at a distance. These literacies are what an online studio could excel at providing students if given the chance but it seems they become things learned post graduation in a trial and error way. I think a big issue is the traditional historical structure is so dominant and evidence to support other means of learning is so scant…both students and instructors dabble a bit in other forms of learning and teaching but tend to default to the primacy of face to face studios as the ideal way. The few online studio programs running are anecdotally seen as odd outliers and going from literature representation…don’t even really seem to exist.
Following those lines I’d like to use my thesis to investigate the diverse range of student and instructor experiences of community formation and formative critique within the context of the online design studio. My hope is that my thesis creates a fairly rich description of online studio dynamics and also investigates how/if online studios + online crit can be a place to foster networked learning, participatory culture, and 21st century literacies. I want my thesis to bring formal research to a new perspective in the art + design education dialogue and demystify online studio practices.