This collection of case studies from the art and design higher education community came about as a result of a meeting held at Loughborough University in April of last year. This meeting was held in response to an invitation to the art and design community from AGOCG aimed at discovering the relevance of the activities of AGOCG to this group of computer graphics users. Although this group obviously has a major interest in computer graphics there are two main reasons for lack of contact in the past. Firstly, nearly all art and design departments in higher education have existed as stand alone institutions or faculties within polytechnics and therefore only recently came under the remit of HEFCs, and secondly AGOCG itself grew out of the scientific graphics visualisation community.
There was therefore little knowledge of each others activities, interests and preoccupations, and no clear indication of whether there could be any potential benefit for a closer understanding of the areas of mutual interest.
An outcome of the meeting was an open call for case studies in order to start the process of exchanging information.
A simple analysis of the studies that have been received by AGOCG shows that the largest single category concerns the descriptions on the use of CAD systems in three dimensional design courses, closely followed by Hypermedia applications to design courses. After these two categories have been satisfied the studies become more individual and particular. There is a keen interest in the use of the World Wide Web, particularly among fine artists, and considerable discussion on the detailed merits of individual drawing\painting\modelling software, used by fine artists.
What has materialised is a very fair and representative cross section of the computer graphics interests to be found in the art and design sector of higher education. An early observation could be made that there is almost universal acceptance and use of application software, so there is a strong 'user' community without any strongly developed appreciation of the potential for software development. There is also a strong Macintosh using group which is a rarity in the 'old' universities, whose needs will need to be considered. I also sense that there is patchy technical support for art and design users whose needs may differ from the average users.
However it is much too early to come to any firm conclusions; I believe there is much to be learned and I hope that AGOCG will continue to foster a debate which will serve to ensure that all aspects of the use of computer graphics are kept under consideration.
Manchester Metropolitan University