This site is a static archive of Process Arts, an open online repository of arts learning resources that was active from 2009 - 2017

Open educational social media content groups and networks within the arts, design & media education

This case study presentation explores the creative and educational potential, challenges, limitations and benefits of use and reuse of open educational rich media content. The paper focuses on UAL’s experience of developing and its involvement and integration with the wider arts sector and the open movement through SCORE fellowship research, ALTO & ALTO UK (JISC UK OER programme) and the DIAL project (digital Integration into arts learning) part of the JISC UK Developing digital literacies programme.

OER12: -


“How crazily pretentious this school can be! It can be summed up in the slogan at the end of the video "Sorry for the inconvenience, we are trying to change the world". Talk about the real school, please. Talk about the fact that the building is brand new, but there are less facilities than before. That everybody can be hipster as hell but you can't put a banner on without authorization. Oh, and try to loan the equipment you need from the brand new technodigishit loan centre..”


"I think it's a jolly nice place!"


{YouTube comment accessed on 14 April 2012 -  }


Accessed on 15/04/12 -}


Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and Institutional repositories are rarely built to support social media content communities, as a result many learning and teaching materials are being independently dispersed across the web using more familiar and everyday user friendly web 2.0 environments.


Good quality learning materials are being produced and shared either internally hidden away in VLEs or lost in locally shared group blogs, these resources often become dormant and lost as the onus is often placed on one person ‘the teacher’ to administer and develop this content alone, some content never leaves the classroom/studio.

Student feedback from a recent small survey at UAL:



One of the key challenges for open practice and research for teachers and students is finding or being directed to the useful open content. Google searches will produce some relevant resources but there are more risks in terms of the quality of the content and the re-usability of the resource. Finding resources for use in art and design teaching is difficult, and even advanced searches in google take time and may return little or no usable open content. The same search in centralised OER repositories would provide high quantity of appropriate results but within a very narrow ‘local’ field of view. There is a strong argument for a ‘national’ centralised subject specific OER repository; however in the current financial climate the long term sustainably of such a resource is questionable. A centralised service could also be seen as insufficiently addressing the needs of particular universities and subjects.  Many courses within Universities wish to manage, develop and host their own bespoke OER environments as far as possible, in preference to going outside and submitting to national repositories.

The problem of OER reuse remains consistently on the agenda for the movement as a whole. For some subjects the proliferation of open content resources in specific subject areas has made finding useful and quality content for use and reuse easier, although has also presented new challenges regarding search and find and surfacing content in the right places. New OER tools and websites are not enough to develop and sustain progressive open educational practice at UAL, cultural change and ongoing open educational ‘stewardship’ maybe a fundamental requirement.

Information underload creating and finding tacit content and relational identity {Anne-Marie Cunningham accessed 10/04/12 -}

My blogs: (6 more on the way - ownership)

It was pity the blog only ran for such a sort period of time as the students wanted to continue, many did and continued to use the blog after the course had finished, I had not planned for this and regret I hadn't as I felt I had deserted the community. {Follows 2011, Striking a balance between practice and open practice ? - }

There is currently no middle ground within our institutional networks to facilitate the development of OER content communities.

How can open educational social media content groups and networks support the process of cultural change and OER stewardship in these new alternative open online spaces for artists, teachers, students and practitioners?

Through SCORE, ALTO, ALTO UK and DIAL, UAL have begun to explore the pace of technological change and its impact on the day-to-day practices of staff and students at UAL and the wider sector. Maintaining progressive practice in these new digitally enhanced learning spaces can present new expectations, anxieties and challenges for all. The ALTO eco system OER environment for example consists of a basic repository (ALTO file/content store) and a dynamic agile Web 2.0 online studio space ( which together provide UAL with a working OER infrastructure to support the development and practice of open education.

What is process.arts?

process.arts is an ongoing agile web development project which relays fully on community participation to keep it going, the project is currently a voluntary managed project no one is employed to support this service. The overall concept is to increase community of voluntary participants to allow specialist sections/subjects and areas of the site to develop independently. The process.arts site is a good proof of concept of a sustainable social academic media content community.

process.arts timeline

Timeline notes:

Open practice in residence (fellowships)

Communities of practice – Drupal & Learning studio

Relational identity {Anne-Marie Cunningham accessed 10/04/12 -}

Agile development

Capture change – new tools will be available always, its not just about tools, people will change and people will use these new tools. It’s important for the tools to be agile and fit the users.

Can you remove it immediately, otherwise I will inform the publishers and ask them to take action. Yours bloody furious ! An OER social media content community website

process.arts has been built using an open sources drupal ( platform, the site provides a user-friendly interface, rich media tools for uploading and sharing user generated content, forums, groups and easy integration with other Web 2.0 environments. The site is an ongoing agile development project and provides an open online space for staff, students and the wider community to discuss and develop resources and open education. process.arts is an example of a subject specific agile web development platform for art and design OER. The platform relays fully on community participation to support and steer its development. process.arts was created at UAL in 2008 through a short 10 day secondment, the project has since continued to develop and integrate within UAL systems through mostly voluntary means. Although supported by UAL through small development incentives and free server space the project has never been officially classed a UAL service, although we are hopeful this will change in the future as the open educational movement becomes more established at UAL.

Art colleges like UAL may prefer to publish and manage their OER content in-house, process.arts is a working prototype example of this.  The ALTO UK project team have been in discussions with two other arts institutions and they are potentially interested in installing there own local drupal process.arts installation, stripped out and designed and branded to fit into the institution. If more locally managed OER websites begin to be established there could be a need for new tools and standards for creating an ‘all-in-one’ OER single subject specific search environments, which ‘plug’ into and cluster various stand alone subject specific OERs, websites and archives spread across many different locally managed platforms. A single search environment could enable users to search and find high quality OER content quickly and efficiently from a broad subject-related field. The OER content creators will be better able to surface their content locally and nationally within a focused federated environment with minimal effort. 

The future

The overall concept of process.arts is to provide a locally managed hybrid social and educational media platform that integrates teaching and practice; we aim to develop an open online environment where people ‘want’ to be as apposed to ‘have’ to be. The motivations for wanting to be in this space are still being explored, its clear through our open practice focus groups and general research feedback at UAL that many staff and students are not familiar, clear or comfortable with the notion of ‘being open’ in their day-to-day practice, it remains a step to far for a vast majority of staff.

Developing new OER online communities and groups also raises many questions: what qualifies a community a group, how do we classify a community, groups or individuals, who are the core members and who are the periphery members? Are they communities or Individuals with a common interest, who come together around objects and ideas, common outlooks? UAL are currently exploring the development of the group dynamic, participation and measure of success.

How can we bring about changes in belief and attitude

It’s important to understand existing cultures before introducing new cultures. It’s easy for educational developers or OER specialists to lose touch or truly understand the needs and practices of its stakeholders. The role of open technologies in encouraging sharing and reuse of open content can only become a reality if the open technologies are being developed with and for the stakeholders involved. There cannot be one OER fix for all.

Relationships between teaching and practice

To support our understanding of the meaning of ‘practice’ in the context of open educational practice and art and design, we can reference Shreeve’s (2008) five categories of practice:

Category 1: Dropping in. There is an asymmetrical relationship between practice and teaching with the focus on practice. Knowledge from practice is seen as being passed on to the student.

Category 2: Moving across. There is an asymmetrical relationship between practice and teaching with the focus on teaching. Knowledge from practice is used in teaching students.

Category 3: Two Camps. There is a symmetrical relationship between practice and teaching, but they are seen as two different and separate things and tension exists between them. Knowledge from practice is used in teaching students.

Category 4: Balancing. There is a symmetrical relationship between practice and teaching with a fluid exchange of knowledge between both.

Category 5: Integrating. There is a holistic relationship between practice and teaching. There is an elision between practice and teaching knowledge and they become one and the same thing.

Art practice and openness (the arts practitioner)

The examples below reflect a specific perspective of an arts practitioner although art, design and media subjects at UAL reflect a greater variety of subjects from fashion, design, media, theatre and performance; the core challenges of public facing practice are common to most. At UAL as with other art colleges tutors, academics and technicians are all Art and Design practitioners and specialists in their field of practice. They are familiar with notions of sharing their ideas and publishing, exhibiting, performing and showing their work and concepts in public. Exhibitions/shows/art events for example are often accompanied by educational/academic research insights or information about the work e.g. the artist talk, sketchbooks, studio video interviews, audio guides, handouts, websites and books etc.

The artist’s studio

The dynamics of a shared artist studio environment complex are similar to that of a college environment, it provides a personal space to work and a communal space to share ideas and interact with fellow practitioners on a daily basis. The ‘open studio’ are also a good example of practitioners sharing their practice in public, once or twice a year ‘solitary’ arts studio spaces are opened to the world, the public are invited into the artist domain to see how and where they work, there are varying degrees of openness:

  • Some literally open their doors so visitors see the unedited ‘real life’ day-to-day working environments,
  • Some tidy and curate their spaces so they can hide and surface specific content they want to be viewed,
  • Others present their spaces as a white cube exhibition removing all traces of the studio activity and practice,
  • Some choose to not open their doors; what lies behind the door is a mystery to all.

The open studios could be seen as a good analogy for how staff may approach degrees of openness in their teaching practice, what can the outsider, student or colleagues see or understand about our teaching practice, is it important? From an A4 paper handout to internal VLE resources to copyrighted online open resources to creative commons open resources to copyleft resources. How do we open the doors to our pedagogic practice and use open technologies to demystify the teaching process?


Externalising courses and resources specifically practice based courses like Fine Art painting and sculpture for example could be seen as a tricky proposition, what actually happens on a Fine Art course? To the outsider it can seem a bit of a mystery, like the closed studio door. Could making a Fine Art course open be seen as destroying its mystery or does ‘The teaching as mystery metaphor’ as Brookfield, S. (1995) suggests: “excuses teachers from having to answer such basic questions as 'how do you know when you are teaching well?', 'how do you know your students are learning?' and 'how could your practice be made more responsive?" Seeing teaching as mysterious works against the improvement of practice. If good or bad teaching are all a matter of chance then there is no point trying to do better. The teaching as mystery metaphor also closes down the possibility of teachers sharing knowledge, insights, and informal theories of practice since mystery is, by definition, incommunicable.”  In the current competitive climate for attracting students on courses, externalising the inner workings of course may quickly become a essential practice.

Open anxieties

New open world UAL have identified a number of anxieties of aims to engage and bring together staff and students who are living comfortably with technology (the digital residents) and those who are learning to live with technology (the digital visitors) White, D. (2012) as a self-sustainable networked community.

To support a potential mass transition into the ‘open’ and to provide a sustainable framework to address and support students and staff in the new open world could educational social media content networks like process.arts provide the open local subject specific support a community may need? Can we provide sustainable support through voluntary participation and the crowdsourcing the combined experience of staff & students? Participants may find their a novice and expert at the same time in these new digital domains.


Brookfield, S. 1995. The Getting of Wisdom: What Critically Reflective Teaching is and Why It's Important. [online] (Last modified on: 2005-05-01 12) [Accessed 12 February 2012].

Shreeve, A. (2008). Transitions: variations in tutors' experience of practice and teaching relations in art and design. PhD Thesis, Lancaster University, Lancaster.

White, D. 2012 [online] [Accessed 26 February 2012].




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This Work, Open educational social media content groups and networks within the arts, design & media education, by cfollows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.