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Technology is the answer, but what was the question?

Part of a Camberwell & Chelsea Curriculum development project, exploring emergent Technologies in Art & Design.

Perspectives on Material and Conceptual Technologies Exploration: How can peer-led informal learning strategies complement formal curricula in Art and Design to empower students to acquire the technical and critical skills to engage with emergent technologies and industry collaboration?

Cross-disciplinary collaboration between Design & Fine Art, specifically BA Interior & Spatial Design, Chelsea, and BA Photography, Camberwell, under the umbrella framework of CCW Digital Learning Teaching & Enhancement who will bring an additional cross section of interest to the project from across CCW, UAL and the tech industries. CCW Digital will align this project with the current CCW Digital Staff development plan and existing digital projects happening across the colleges.

Technology is the answer, but what was the question? (Cedric Price)

This project across BA Interior & Spatial Design, Chelsea, and BA Photography, Camberwell, aims to develop long-term pedagogic strategies for Art and Design courses to address the rise of pervasive new technologies such as Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Virtual/Augmented Realities (VR/AR). By facilitating a student-led approach to researching, developing and realising a collaborative project based on peer support in acquiring technical skills and contextual knowledge, it will help to define UAL's unique contribution in potential future collaborations with industry.

A Curriculum Development Fund project by:

  • Bernd Behr (Lecturer, BA Photography, CAMB)
  • Cyril Shing (Senior Lecturer BA Interior and Spatial Design)
  • Chris Follows CCW Digital Learning Technologies Manager

Aim (Draft):

This project aims to creatively and critically explore the impacts of new technologies on curriculum design and student peer learning and teaching experience. It will address three main questions:   

  • How we can integrate and enhance our curriculum through a critical discourse around a culture of technologies past and present? 
  • What can the art & design HE institution contribute to the larger discourse & development of emergent technologies? 
  • How can we engage students in the material and conceptual exploration of technologies? 

Rationale (Draft):

At a time of rapid technological developments and their mainstream adoption (2015 was billed "the year of drones" while this year is slated to be "the year of Virtual Reality"), curricula in both art and design faculties at UAL are struggling to reflect these developments which are poised to affect all areas of society. The Creative Industries are increasingly expecting graduates to be familiar with these emerging technologies and have the confidence to acquire the technical skills needed to engage with them. Undergraduate students at UAL mostly remain consumers of these technologies and this project seeks to shift that role towards an active engagement as creative producers. 

This curriculum intervention seeks to address this opportunity by bringing together undergraduate students from Design and Fine Art courses across two colleges to collaboratively develop a working model that enables us to integrate student-led engagement with emergent technologies into our formal curricula. 

Our approach:

  • Develop a series of cross-disciplinary themed workshops and seminars exploring impacts of technologies on culture to encourage informal research groups and specialist exploration. 
  • Explore informal learning, collaborative practice and its relationship to formal learning  
  • Collaborative problem solving    
  • Possible collaboration themes: Spatial Cultures,  Artificial Intelligence in the arts (AI)     

Objectives (Draft):

  • How can students influence change in the curriculum though their engagement in the tech industries? 
  • How do we measure student engagement (material and conceptual exploration) in technologies if the realms of practice are outside the understanding of course staff? 
  • Should we explore 'technology histories' more within the curriculum    
  • Best use of online & digital technology to support collaboration and peer-to-peer learning                     


  • Will shift the role of students at UAL from mostly being consumers of information and technologies into more active engagement as creative content producers.  
  • Address the imbalance of digital technologies being seen as primarily explored through technical processes and not through academic and critical practice.   
  • Will support new approach to peer led informal learning and critical practice around emerging technologies across faculty in relation to how we engage with the Tech Industries? 

UAL staff and students can share our initiatives in the project and exchange innovative approaches of producing innovative model in designing curriculum.

Part of the 'Technology is the answer, but what was the question?' Curriculum development project, exploring emergent Technologies in Art & Design.

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