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'Changing the Learning Landscape' - Online Identities, Final Report

Final report for the ‘Changing the Learning Landscape’ online identities project: Report authors Joe Easeman, Chris Follows and student researchers/community developers.

Resources created through the project:

Resources of Expertise: The project commissioned four students (Community Developers) to startup and lead new local college communities that address issues around online Identities. Over the time of the project the Community Developers worked closely with UAL DIAL 14 team and used resources and findings produced during the DIAL 11-13 project to enrich their knowledge and understanding of the issues. As a result the students are resources of expertise, supporting and advising other students as well as steering the collective efforts of the online identities project forward.  

See all the project team members here

Online Communities: The Community Developers all created online communities (facebook groups, twitter, process.arts and blogs) to reflect the finding of their community group, encourage debate around issues and document face-to-face meetings and focus groups. Please see links to all online student community groups here.

Project Online Home: The project developed an online home for the project, to share project approach, information, communication and findings. See here

Videos: Some of the community developers created a short film to advertise their communities to other members of the college. These videos explained the issues that would be talked about, why you should come to the meetings and what the aims of the project would be.

Links to project resources and blog (URLs)

 

Facebook:

CSM college Page: Press Play

LCC college group: COPYourself

CCW college group: ON POINT

LCF College group: Sence

Project main 'Changing the Learning Landscape' online identities project facebook page

 

Blogs:

Blog posts from Kimberley Cunningham CSM: Press Play blog

Blog posts from Filip Bigos, community delveloper for COPYourself

Bowen Lee's video to advertise the LCF SENSE group

 

Website groups:

Process.arts 'changing the learning landscape' online identities page

 

How did the project utilise and/or develop digital literalise in the participants?

In this project DIAL 14 employed four 'Community Developers' to set up community groups in each of the four UAL college groups. These groups were set up in order to meet and discuss issues relating to the participants professional online identities, as well as explore how accessible they find using the internet, what more could be done to help and support them setting up and maintaining an online presence and how they can develop an online creative practice, sharing information and skills.

The meetings arranged by the Community Developers were supported by open and visible online communities, encouraging discussion, debate and research into the subject.

During the running of this project the community developers and the community members were encouraged to explore online resources and tools already provided by the university, such as workflow, an online portfolio platform, commonplace, an online community forum, myblog.arts, a blogging space encouraging collective online practices, and process arts. As well as recording their findings and research on these platforms the communities were also encourage to explore other online platforms, with the aim of developing an online platform that support their individual practice as well as exploring the needs of individual students at the university.

General issues raised by the project.

There were a number of issued raised by this project. They can generally be classed into two categories; issues relating to a lack of resources, support and training at the university around awareness and development of online identities and issues relating to online literacy.

Lack of resources, support and training -There was agreement from across the communities, and their meetings with their student groups, that their students were given very little, to no, learning relating to building their online identities/presence or how their online identity related to their professional practice, both at university and once graduating. It was generally felt that this could be something that could be integrated into the courses from the first or second year, so that the students were able to slowly build up their online abilities and presence as they developed their specialism. This would give them both the tools and the information to build a solid and comprehensive online presence as a graduate. Although it was felt in many of the groups that the work produced at university would not be used after leaving, or would be something the students felt they would like to distance themselves from, there was a clear message that the training to establish themselves online was vital.

Staff awareness - There was also a strong message that the students at UAL would like the academic and technical staff to have the knowledge and information to teach them how to establish themselves online. Resultantly any legacy from this project would need to target both students and staff in order to ensure there is a university wide understanding, as well as a strong community of practice across all levels.

Q. How do we support staff with little or no knowledge or experience of online practices support students in this quickly evolving landscape?    

Online literacy: Student awareness, engagement and incentives - In relation to the community online literacy, most of the participants felt that they had a clear and comprehensive understanding on the technicalities of using social media websites such as facebook, twitter, instagram etc. However when asked about using these sites for future professional development there was a reduced level of understand relating to how to do this.

One of the major issues discussed relating to this was how to separate out personal and professional presence on social media. Many of the participants were not aware of how wide reaching their social media presence was, and exactly how they were portrayed on the internet. A major issue that was discussed related to how this affected their professional identity. However there was also a discussion on the issues of your social media presence as an fine artist, where you may need to overcross your personal and professional entities.

There was very little understanding of website building across the groups, which became a major issue through the group meetings. The participants who had websites mainly used commercial website builders such as wix, moonfruit or squarespace. The participants felt that if they had more knowledge how to build a website, from HTML code through to where to get a domain name, they would feel more confident in moving away from commercial website builders and hence able to develop a stronger authorship and control over their professional online presence.

 

Q. How do we engage students and staff in learning about online identities and online presence, what are the best or most sustainable ways to support students?

Barriers and challenges during the project:

Time: One of the major challenges in this project was in student and staff engagement, busy course schedules, deadlines etc.

 

Managing Expectations: Of student participates in terms of what we expect to achieve and how the project moves forwards   

 

Solutions to the issues and challenges raised: 

The group has decided to focus on six headlines that can be used as tags on the data collection to support future work in this area for UAL DIAL 14 to take forward:

 

  • ‘Web training skills’ web building, online presence/voice, IPR, copyright

  • To raise ‘Staff Awareness’ of the issues identified

  • ‘Online voice/presence’ -social media, student presence, twitter etc. blogging, visuals - anyway of expressing yourself online and leaving a trace

  • ‘Industry insights’ - what the industry expects of an online presence, why is it important etc

  • ‘Discipline specific’ - need to make training discipline specific

  • ‘Cross- discipline collaboration’ - Encourage sharing of good practice

 

Future Work UAL DIAL 14 will take forward:

Curriculum Integration - Explore the barriers and challenges of curriculum integration from the beginning/year 1 through and beyond the end of the course e.g. support post grad and alumni.

Staff Engagement - Gain better insight and understanding of staff awareness of training and support requirements of online identities (educational and professional presence online). The project will use the UAL CLL project findings supported by the earlier DIAL 2011-13 findings to engage staff and senior management in the issues being raised and recommendations.

Develop a pilot Student Run ‘Creative Online Identities MOOC’

Creation of a student run online learning environment 'Creative Online Identities' course supported by the university and staff. Read more.

Support Hubs - Face-to-face hubs of expertise that support online/virtual training are needed for the students to go to in order to develop their skills or get help with online practice.

Standards - European drivers lincense, is a general basic introduction to ICT, is this possible in the university. This could be look at by introducing web standards, so by the end of the first year they need to know a certain level of knowledge related to online resources, and again at the end of the second year, etc.

Student Run Online Identities Symposium - A series of talks discussing ideas of online identity and exploring the challenges, development and vital branding role within an Arts profession. Read More.

 

Recommendations to future projects of this nature:

 

  • Inhouse Support: Employing a coordinator to steer the project, the project participants require a lot of time and individual support.

  • Time of year needs to be considered, hard to find a good time as everyone is busy, but avoid the end of academic year.

  • Collaboration: Having separate groups work independently that can also meet collectively to discuss and share common synergise across findings. 

  • Design and Identity: As part of the 'Changing the Learning Landscape' online identities project DIAL apply for additional funding in order to employ a designer to work on both poster to advertise the communities in the colleges and to visualize the findings at the end of the project. The funding was acquired through arts temps 20:20 project, whereby DIAL successfully won 20 hours with a UAL graduate designer. The designs were useful for branding and to help kick off their communities. Read more

  • Online home: Having an online home (Base) is really useful, where resources and information can be shared.  

  • Preparation: We spent  a few months preparing for the project so when we actually started the project with the students we could support the students as we had the context and the resources in place.   

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This Work, 'Changing the Learning Landscape' - Online Identities, Final Report, by cfollows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.