One day Symposium

Although many institutions have implemented ICT in the curriculum, the pedagogical approach has changed little. But the world of the student entering Higher Education has altered beyond recognition in the last decade. Students now arrive with a background of use of digital devices and an ease of communication in the online world.

The institutions they enter are among the most stable in society. While industry and commerce have undergone a revolution, the university, particularly in its mode of teaching has only seen pockets of change. Learning is placed before teaching in most mission statements and publications but with a few exceptions this is illusory.

This Symposium, organised by the cltad at the University of the Arts London, and supported by the JISC Regional Support Centre for London, set out to investigate the implications of innovations in technology and e-learning in relation to Art, Design and Communication subject areas. The delegates explored two key themes – the New Learner and the New Teacher and addressed issues including those below.

The new learner

What are the changing learner expectations about education, given evolving learner competencies with web-based technologies (blogging, podcasting and other web representation), particularly the fast moving field of mobile communication technologies?
What is the impact of new and pervasive technologies on the student expectation?
Do students welcome a growth of informal learning and benefit from the widespread availability of information?
What are the implications of online communities and communities of practice?
How far do students make use of personalised learning environments and eportfolios?

The new teacher

Are institutional responses and strategies adequate to cope with change?
Are enough resources devoted to staff development?
What are the challenges to VLEs and standard elearning models?
How might technology drive learning and teaching?
What are the implications of the Web 2.0 paradigm for elearning?
What is the place of learning object repositories and their value across discipline boundaries?
What are the distinctive features of art and design elearning?

Expert Panel

Richard Doust – Academic Coordinator of eLearning at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
David Rowsell – University of the Arts London
Josie Fraser – ICT and e-Learning Development Officer, AoC NILTA
Paul Shabajee – Research Fellow, Institute for Learning and Research Technology, University of Bristol
Andy Ramsden – Learning Technology Adviser, Institute for Learning and Research Technology, University of Bristol

The panel members spoke briefly sharing how they are making effective use of innovative technologies in their own practice and how they foresaw the future of e-learning, setting the scene and raising questions for the day. Richard Doust contributed by way of a video from Sydney, Australia together with colleagues from the College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales. The Panel session was then opened to other delegates who posed questions and highlighted issues.

Delegates then moved to two parallel breakout rooms to discuss the issues facing the New Learner and the New Teacher. They were joined “virtually” by online delegates, who were able to select a discussion chatroom of the same theme.

In each room a screen displayed online synchronous conferencing contributions on the theme, appropriate to each room, from some seventy online participants. A running summary of the discussion of the proceedings in each room was provided by a recorder. Delegates for each theme were also invited to contribute to this ongoing record.

Following lunch, delegates took part in their second choice discussion.

Discussion Board

In addition to the synchronous conferencing and Recording facilities, there was a Discussion board to which delegates and online participants were able to contribute.

Some issues for the New Learner

High student expectations for technology use are compounded by the lag between technology and pedagogy and outdated university strategy.
The growing use of user-generated content e.g. Wikis, blogs, pod and vodcasting plus freely available, people-powered tools such as Flickr, Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube puts into question how students will feel about using an institution’s clunky VLEs.
Learning resources could be developed in conjunction with students and some institutions were actively involved in this.
Assessment methods will change to suit the technology being deployed to aid learning, but the criteria for assessing students will remain the same.
Plagiarism and copyright continued to be important issues.
Availability of new technology has meant that students are cutting and pasting images rather than developing their own work from scratch. Is originality a fallacy?
Students will need support in developing quality, reflective statements; students are likely to start quoting from blogs as much as from academic references and will need to be trained in making evaluations about validity of content.
As more content moves to the online environment there are important questions about accessibility and student preference. Not all students are technology enthusiasts.

Some issues for the New Teacher

Barriers of time needed to learn the new technologies. Many staff are still uncomfortable with the shift to using technology in learning and teaching.
For technology to succeed in improving learning and teaching institutions need to invest more resources in staff development and provide time for staff to acquire and become comfortable with the new skills.
Most institutions should devote more attention to staff induction – should it be the same as induction students receive?
IT support and security issues. In many institutions, the IT department is a barrier to the use of the new technologies. Understandably concerned with security, the department often blocks student participation in sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Flickr Institutional buy-in.
Public documentation – i.e. the use of blogs vs private journals.
Understanding about the Creative Commons Licence (which enables the legal sharing and reuse of cultural, educational, and scientific works).


This was an experimental and challenging event, which was totally delegate-driven, participated in by some sixty delegates in the Rootstein Hopkins Space and around seventy online delegates. It sparked many useful and interesting discussions about the way in which the developments in the recent information environment, impacted on the New Learner and the New Teacher. Delegates strongly felt that institutions increasingly need to meet the expectations of prospective students, who are not only part of the institution’s future, but are also customers entitled to their technological demands. The event started a debate of the future of VLEs for Art & Design, and highlighted the time lag between technology and pedagogy.

Some of the highlights of the symposium are available as podcasts.