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narrowing the topic…

October 3, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

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.

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