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Virtually Real Open Practice OER17 Abstract

Virtually Real Open Practice #1527

OER17: The Politics of Open 5 & 6 April 2017, Resource for London, UK

Theme: Participation & Social Equality

Author: Chris Follows

Technology is rapidly transforming the way we live, learn, work and interact. This paper aims to highlight and support debate around how we ‘teach digital’ in creative arts education and what potential impacts the UK digital economy could have on current and emerging digital practices and open education.

Emergent technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) can present new challenges for teachers who are struggling to integrate evolving digital practices into the curriculum. As a result, new technologies & practices remain inaccessible & therefore reside outside the curriculum, not too dissimilar to challenges faced by those exploring open education integration at University of the Arts London (UAL)[1].

The pace of technological change and its impact on the day-to-day practices of University staff and students is fast becoming an issue for everyone. Could the process of Digital Transformation be an opportunity for the open education movement & communities to explore new models of mainstream integration?

Open Participatory Practice:

This paper will reflect and share findings of the Digital Maker Collective (DMC), an open group of UAL staff, students, alumni who share common goals of exploring digital & emerging technologies.

The Digital Maker Collective meet regularly through interdisciplinary interest led group meet-ups, gatherings, activities and events in collaboration with the arts/tech sector and industries.

  • The Power of the Cluster: Staff & students have found huge benefits in encouraging and supporting each other in regular cross-college meet-ups. Voluntary groups of staff, students & alumni coming together around digital interests have helped generate a great deal of engagement as well as raise new levels of collective confidence to keep taking on new and more daunting challenges.
  • Exploring Open Education through digital meet-ups, events & external/live projects: Participating in live events have provided valuable experience for the Digital Maker Collective in hosting public-facing and participatory digital events which have served well in supporting new high profile collaborations such as the Tate Exchange events this year.

It’s inevitable that digital transformation will force us to rethink our approach to how we integrate new technologies and practices into the curriculum.

Could the current wave of mainstream interest in exploring the unknowns of new technologies and how we use new technologies in education & practice also reinvigorate a fresh approach to Open Education Practice or Open Participatory Practice?


Lave, Jean & Wenger, Etienne. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. USA: Cambridge University Press

Tech Nation 2016 report by Nesta and Tech City UK. [Online] - [Accessed 10 January 2017] 

[1] Exploring free & open education at University of the Arts London [Accessed 10 January 2017]


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This Work, Virtually Real Open Practice OER17 Abstract, by Chris Follows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.