Category Archives: lecturing

Higher Education Academy Art, Design, Media Creative Learning and Teaching Day

Last Thursday I went to the HEA Art, Design, Media Creative Learning and Teaching Day at Ravensbourne.  This was a well attended event that was the first chance to get involved in wider discussions about government polices and the forthcoming education cuts and rise in student fees. But it was also a chance to see the sort of initiatives taken by individuals and higher education institutions in art, design, media creative learning. A brief overview of the event can be seen in the following video.


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The early morning keynote presentation was given by former NUS President, Aaron Porter, who is now a freelance journalist & higher education consultant. His presentation (below) used statistical data to analyse and show the current state of HE and then to present the (mainly) negatives and positives of the proposed changes to education funding.


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There were many parallel sessions through out the day so it was impossible to see all the presentations but one notable and memorable presentation that I managed to see was by James Corazzo, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design, University of Derby, who put forward the rather provocative statement “Sometimes the best teaching is no teaching at all”. Although on the surface this could be seen as self-defeating James showed that empowering students to use their initiative could be very creatively productive. It reminded me of the ideas of the American adult educator, Malcolm Knowles, in the 1970s and his ideas of self-directed learning that he called ‘andragogy’.

The day’s conference culminated in a keynote presentation by Pro-Vice-Chancellor of  University of Brighton, Professor Bruce Brown who gave a speech that followed the history of creativity and learning from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the present day. (below).


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Mozilla Festival at Ravensbourne

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been involved in teaching some first year under-graduate students at Ravensbourne over the last few weeks. This has taken the form of the introduction to and production of WordPress websites.

Part of this project was linked in with the Mozilla Festival which took place at Ravensbourne over the weekend. Students were asked to prepare WordPress sites ready to use and for filling with content over the course of the festival. It was heartening to see the multi-disiplinary groups of students firstly grapple with the new software and concept of content management systems and then steam ahead with innovative ways of using it.  Some implementing live feeds and others procured sponsorship and deals with local businesses.

Each team chose a different subject to cover and during the weekend they filmed interviews, edited videos, wrote articles and constantly updated their site with content from the festival. I went along on the Saturday to observe and take in the festival. The project was a very good example of collaboration, networking, pooling skills and resource as well as learning how to work as a team.

Their sites are available here to view:

Ravezilla: audio and video innovation
Children and Education
Mozilla Gaming

Everything is a Remix Part 3

I recently found this video which continues much of the content in my Remix Culture lecture earlier this year.

In it the film maker Kirby Ferguson argues that the basic elements of creativity are to: copy, transform, and combine. He cites Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, Henry Ford and The Ford Motor Company and Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web as all possessing elements and components that have already been in existence, which helped make their technological breakthroughs possible. Ferguson argues; “nobody starts out original. We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding”.

What follows this is an interesting examination of the rise of Apple computers via previous computer innovations from Xerox and Alto.

[vimeo 25380454 460 345]

You can watch the other two in the series here.


Interviews 5 -12

It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve been conducting more of my interviews in all of the three age groups and am at a stage where there is a equal mix though out the groups. Most of the interviews start as semi-structured and then develop into more personalised discussions dependent on each individual’s experiences. The interviews have varied from 35minutes to over an hour.

When the interviews have finished I as the participant to upload some of their comntent so that there is a record and example of the type of content they produce and share. I’m using Posterous as the hosting web service. It’s free and has the added advantage enabling participants to to email their content to an address and this will create a post on the site. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for participants to use as possible. About half the interviewees have uploaded which is encouraging. The site can be viewed here.

I’ve also just finished marking 38, 3000 word essays from the Creativity module which, as usual, has been a time consuming process. There really isn’t a quick way to mark as essay. This time I marked a few-a-day over a two week period.

I’m taking a break from the interviews now and off to Australia for a couple of weeks. It’ll give me chance to catch up on some reading. I’m also going to finish reading my supervisor, David Gauntlett’s, great new book Making is Connecting while I’m away.

When I come back I’ve got a very intensive summer period continuing the interviews, writing my methodology chapter and finishing my literature review before my transfer appraisal in October. I’m also helping with the Transforming Audiences 3 conference in September which I’ve been asked to present some of my research. It’s going to be a very busy summer!

Creativity and Remix Culture Lecture

Yesterday, I gave my lecture on ‘Creativity and Remix Culture’ as the final lecture on the Creativity module. I used a lot of music examples to add some variety and to slow down the pace in-between the different stages of the presentation. Using music in this context was valid as artists such as Grandmaster Flash and Danger Mouse revolutionised how music is remixed. As for remixing on the web the Google Chrome and Arcade Fire project ‘The Wilderness Downtown‘ shows how current web technology can mashup content to create a truly immersive and emotive experience. The lecture was well received by the students but this may have been more to do with the content and subject matter than the lecturer.

And here is the RiP – A Remix Manifesto – Trailer that’s linked to in the presentation.

[youtube 9oar9glUCL0 460 277]

Supervisor Shuffle

My second supervisor is leaving after Christmas so my third has kindly stepped up to take her place. I met all three at Harrow campus on Wednesday to have a general discussion and get her up to speed with my research project. Fatimah is an very able replacement. Her knowledge of empirical research will prove invaluable to me over the next two years. She already put forward some useful suggestions which are all based on her personal experience of similar research. Sometimes having a fresh perspective on a project can bring new light and life to a subject.

I have just marked 55 essays for the BA Network and Society module. Each one has taken at least half-an-hour to read, mark and write comments but some can take longer when the essay is poor. They needed to be finished by the end of this week so we could have a second marking session with the other seminar tutors. This entailed double marking 10% of essays to make sure all the tutors gave consistent marks. Marking assignments is a very time consuming business and this has taken a lot of time over the last couple of weeks. I’m glad it’s over.

Weekend was rounded of with a trip to see the comedian Steward Lee at the Leicester Square theatre. He very much lived up to expectations. He’s a big fan of The Fall like myself. I asked him afterwards if he’d be able to see them at the Electric Ballroom a couple of weeks ago. He hadn’t because of his shows.  I said I’d seen him at Fall gigs in the past and sent him some photos via his manager so he gave me a signed copy of his book, How I Escaped My Certain Fate, (left) which they were selling in the foyer. Top bloke.

Year Two Begins

It’s the start of the first semester of the 2010/11 academic year and this week I’ve started my lecturing duties which are part of most PhD students life.

On Monday’s I now take two seminars for the The Network Society and the Media module. This Monday lecture provided a background to the subject with an introduction to Manuel Castells and the transition from industrial to network society. The students are second years and surprisingly quiet but become more opinionated by the end of the session.

On Thursday I started a my sessional lecturing at the newly located Ravensbourne College. Originally getting to the college was a train journey from London Bridge to Kent but now they’ve re-located to a new high-tech building (left and above) at Greenwich Peninsular next to the Dome. It’s a strikingly designed building by the architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo. The building is clad with a tesselating design of tiles developed from a pattern by mathematician Michael Hirschorn. Read more about the building and college here.

However, the college is still not open to the students and so I end up taking the lecture in, the very US sounding, ‘Soccer Dome’ next door (formerly the David Beckham Academy).  It’s a bizarre linking of arty media students with empty kit rooms, celebratory framed and signed football shirts and indoor football pitches.

The main purpose of my lecture was to give the students a full introduction to the principals of the web and introduce them to online tools for self-publishing their work. I got them all to register and customise their own Posterous website and to upload photos and videos. At lunch time I asked those with smart phones to record some footage of the new building and upload from their phone. This was well received and acted as a fun but also instructive introduction to their multi-media module.

Reflecting on the Summer and Preparing for year two

It’s been a long, varied and hard working Summer. I spent the first couple of months writing my literature review. That was a long and slow process which involved lots of reading and, or course, writing. As a result it developed in fits and starts. Some days I’d get lots written and others virtually nothing. I also had to finish a chapter of a book I was writing for my previous University on Social Media. I’d asked a friend and colleague to help with the case study as he had written the module we’d both worked on and had lots of student data to add. This took quite a bit of time of leasing with him and the editor.

The Summer School in Slovenia, as documented in this diary, was very useful although it meant I lost just over three weeks on the literature review due needing a mental an physical break afterwards. But overall it was definitely worth the trip. It now leaves me a little short of having the lit review finished by the end of September.

This week I’ve being trying to get back in the swing of things again. I have now registered for year two and on Monday met with a Fellow PhD student to compare notes at the British Library. She was concerned about the amount of the theoretical knowledge needed for her research work. But that’s what it’s all about.

I met both my supervisors independently of one another on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss their thoughts about my literature review which I had sent them a month previously. The response was fairly positive although one thought that I was spending too much time trying to address the big questions of my research and not getting into specific subjects relating to my research questions.

I’m going to be taking seminars every Monday for the module Network society and the Media this semester and had an initial meeting about it yesterday. I’m really looking forward to it as it’s a really good chance to engage with students about their media use as well as listen to some in-depth lectures.

Final Creativity Lecture followed by Lou Reed

Yesterday was the last lecture and seminar on the Creativity module. The student’s second essays need to be submitted imminently so we’re expecting a very low turnout. I spoke with my colleagues to see if we could amalgamate our classes to have a large end of module group. We got them to work in four separate groups and gave them 25 minutes to come up with marketing strategies and media campaigns for two current issues.

1) The General Election is approaching. Devise a media campaign to encourage 18 to 25 year olds to vote at the General election.

2) The Digital Economy Bill has just been rushed through parliament. This gives ISP’s the legal responisbility to take internet access away from individuals and households. Devise a media campaign to discourage illegal music and film downloads.

This was a great session and the presentations were very well thought through with lots of radical and inevitably reactionary ideas.

In the evening a friend of mine had managed to get two tickets to see Lou Reed perform his ‘white noise’ classic “Metal Machine Music” at the Royal Festival Hall. This was an album he recorded in the early 70s and was considered unlistenable at the time. It still is now by most people.

The first half hour was spent listening to a repetitive drone with no one on stage. I half expected him to come out and bow and then walk off as if we’d just witnessed an amazingly minimal set. When Lou and his two younger musical cohorts eventually came on stage there was a photographer frenzy at the front. They all left after about the first ten minutes. After they’d got their pictures.

Seeing him perform this album live was both bizarre and electrifying. The music was indecipherable in that it was hard to distinguish one track from another. It didn’t matter as this was a rock legend on stage.

There was a moment I found very amusing. At one point, while Lou was playing some feedback from his guitar, he summoned a stage hand to go and twiddle with some knobs on an amplifier and seemed to get a bit miffed when stage hand didn’t do it right. The stage hand frantically kept trying, eventually finding the correct knob to satisfy Lou but given the racket coming from the rest of the equipment it was hard for us, the audience, to notice any discernible difference. It was still a cacophonous, albeit fascinating, din. Great to see he’s lost none of his petulance though.

Read more about Metal Machine Music in Paul Morley on Music in the Guardian

Field Trip to The V&A

Took the BA students on the Creativity module to the V&A today. Originally DG had planned to go to the Design Museum but last year very few people turned up as they had to pay to get in. Students don’t change. They would probably rather go down the pub with the money they saved.
Anyway I has suggested to DG that we should go to the V&A instead as it was free to get in with a diversity of creative styles on show and the Decode exhibition was still on. I thought this would suit these technologically inclined lot. He agreed. I did my spiel about how good it was but only three students were convinced to cough up some money to go. As I say, students don’t change.

I love the V&A. It was a sunny and warm enough to sit outside for coffee for March.