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Barry Jackson at the GLAADH Initiatives Workshop

Barry Jackson

 

Middlesex University

 

Developing a new course and/or changing the curriculum

 
 
 

Barry spoke on what might be gained from conceiving of the GLAADH Initiatives specifically as curriculum projects. By introducing certain key terms, Barry invited a discussion of the various elements of curriculum change. He left it to individual participants to search for the particular relevance this might hold for their projects, aiming simply to unpack and examine some of the facets of change as we might encounter them.

Content, Aims, Outcomes, Strategies and Assessment

This exercise threw up certain considerations, such as those of student experience, assessment, and course aims, in addition to the more obvious one of content. Barry highlighted the intended outcomes of learning as a crucial area of concern that can sometimes be overlooked in the course of a necessary consideration of content. To illustrate the relationship between them he posed the question: What do you want students to learn and why?

During his discussion of aims, he notes that what might be regarded as 'aims' had been voiced by many of the Initiatives presenters earlier in the day. Some people had mentioned the need 'to get students to look outside Europe', 'to introduce students to artefacts', 'to expose students to different methodologies', 'to enable students to play an active role in development of web sites by contributing', 'to get student to think of social histories behind objects', all of which in some measure might be described as aims.

In the ideal case, aims can be decided in relation to content. Aims can also be broken down into more detailed outcomes. A number of questions were posed in connection to this. What would be the outcomes of the aims we might set? How do we know how to achieve those outcomes? How are the teaching and learning strategies employed influenced by a consideration of these outcomes? To what extent are the proposed curricula changes to be assessed? How might we help students to acquire the knowledge and understanding in order to demonstrate what they have learnt?

Pressures

With reference to an ideal model of curriculum design and/or change, a portrait emerges of the largely circular relationships implicating each of these elements. Yet Barry also emphasised the presence of some of the largely external pressures that might come to trouble such a model. Sector pressures, a changing student body, the common modular organisation of degrees in which learning outcomes are directly affected, the resources available, and so on, were suggested as typical of these.

Barry noted that consistent themes were emerging across the breadth of the projects relating to the issue of resources, which form into three kinds: resources as people or specialists; access to visual resources; and the accessibility of supporting literature. With examples, Barry noted how these issues concern all the projects in one or other ways. Working within the GLAADH community offers the advantage of sharing the burden of these pressures. By fanning out and addressing the elements of curriculum change and design, and their interrelationships, Barry's presentation aimed at better equipping participants to begin to overcome these difficulties.

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Francis Pugh at the GLAADH Initiatives Workshop

Francis Pugh

 

Victoria & Albert Museum

 

Using Museum Collections

 
 
 

Francis Pugh, Conferences and Study Days Organiser from the Learning and Visitor Services department at the V&A, raised a series of practical points to be considered when planning a visit to a museum as part of a course. He gave an overview of the changes that have taken place in the last few years in museums in relation to access and audiences. Museums are actively seeking ways to diversify their audience and widen access to their resources. They are implementing different strategies that aim to target specific groups while at the same time finding new ways to deliver information. Education departments in museums are playing an important part in this process by facilitating access to collections and building bridges between the curatorial departments and the public. Tutors planning courses could consider some of the following points when planning a course.

  • Physical constraints - consider the time involved in planning, transport costs and any additional costs for acquiring resources.
  • Spread knowledge - advise students of what they might encounter and where to find information. For example, the V&A recently launched a guide for students on primary resources at the V&A, which includes contact information for all departments and a brief description of the resources available. This guide is tailored for students but is equally useful for tutors. National museums, and in particular those based in London, have the financial support to develop this type of resource. The resources available at local authority museums are often limited because of their reduced budgets and staff.
  • Display and interpretative materials - point out to students the wealth of resources in the galleries that can assist in the interpretation of objects on display. Look for example at the information available in labels, panels and other interpretative devices.
  • Libraries and archives - the V&A houses the National Art Library, but many local authority and regional museums have library services that can support research. Students need guidance on how to best use these resources.
  • Encourage students to research collections by looking at museum archives which hold a wealth of letters and other documents relating to how things were acquired. Smaller museums sometimes lack the staff to facilitate a session for handling/observing objects in storage. Students could focus instead on researching the history of collections and objects by looking at other local archives and libraries.
  • Students and tutors can request information packs and other learning materials from education officers or museum education departments. Most of these materials are geared towards teachers working with younger pupils. However, they often include detailed information on objects and selected bibliographies. This can be a time saving strategy for tutors when preparing a course.
  • Curators are more approachable than we imagine and actively encourage requests for advice and information. However, like most specialists, they respond best when enquirers have undertaken some preparatory work on the objects or collections they are interested in.
  • Web site resources - the V&A website, in common with other museum web sites, can be used as a research tool by students and can help prepare the visit. Information is available also on temporary exhibitions and resources available throughout the museum. In a further development, students can email the on-line interactive learning materials in the V&A's British Galleries to their home address. All major national and international museum web sites are expanding rapidly and with increasing degrees of interactivity.

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Charlie Gere at the GLAADH Initiatives Workshop

Charlie Gere

 

Birkbeck College, University of London

 

Technology and Curriculum Design

 
 
 

The presentation was opened with a thought provoking prologue which sketched out the way in which Art History has always been constituted by its tools, from the growth of printed books to the invention of photography and now the world wide web. Following this, the speaker went on to outline the ways in which the traditional technological apparatus for teaching (two slide projectors) is being expanded. While many of these technologies, such as the world wide web, power point, digital image resources etc., significantly enhance the learning and teaching process, caution was urged regarding the introduction of new technologies. It was suggested that there is a tendency to regard new technologies in a utopian manner which can result in over ambitious projects which become a drain on resources or have to be downsized. In response to this, a number of points of consideration were posed for those embarking on projects involving new technologies. For example:

  • Is this format better than any other - particularly any simpler form of technology?
  • What will the costs be in terms of time, money and expertise?
  • Who will benefit from it?
  • What will the life of the project / resource be?
  • Will it need to be maintained?

Further tips were offered in relation to digitisation projects. These focused on questions of copyright, which is often one of the most prohibitive factors both financially and in terms of restricting access to the resource, and on a consideration of the platform which supports the images; accessibility and longevity (will it become outmoded) being key factors. Online courses also came under the spotlight in which it was stressed that they involve enormous amounts of time, money and expertise as well as careful pedagogic consideration. The presentation was concluded with an acknowledgement of the exciting possibilities offered by new technologies, and one final set of questions for those considering projects that involve new technologies: Is it genuinely useful for what you want to do? How will it change your teaching? And - will it genuinely enhance your teaching?



GLAADH Guests

Photo of Trish Cashen from the Open University at the Initiatives Workshop Photo of Simon Rodwell from the Open University at the Initiatives Workshop

Trish Cashen from the Open University was on hand to offer advice about the use of new technology in Art and Design History.

Simon Rodwell, another IT expert from the Open University, was also on hand to give advice, as well as film the day.

     

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