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"Digital Futures": A Case Study in a Faculty of Art & Design
1 INTRODUCTION: the context
1.1 The intention by the author of this Case Study to undertake a Lecture Series entitled "Digital Futures: from Tools to Robots and Aliens" was determined, and to a large extent 'prepared', before it was chosen as 'an AGOCG Case Study'. In that sense at least the selection of the Lecture Series as a Case Study was one of those 'happy accidents' that regular readers of e-mail and academic Lists are prone to think is a normal part of everyday life! The Lecture Series was not modified to suit the Case Study in any way though it was modified by circumstances which are reported below.
1.2 The proposal to AGOCG to record 'Digital Futures' as a Case Study was formally accepted and notified at the commencement of the Lecture Series. A week-by-week record was maintained by the Lecturer and Technician responsible for the Series and students were invited to make regular responses. A combination of these approaches, plus statements from management and staff, form the substance of this Report.
1.3 Details of the Lecture Series are contained in Section 2 below. There were however a number of 'special', 'unusual' and even 'unique' circumstances which applied to this particular Lecture Series being offered to Level 2 student across the department which are briefly listed below as contextual information:
1.3.1 A structure employing 'departmental lectures' as an option open to students from a variety of courses within the Department of Visual and Performing Arts is a new feature of recently restructured modular courses.
1.3.2 The option to attend this (or alternative) Departmental Options had not previously been offered to Level 2 students nor had an equivalent Departmental Option structure been available to them as Level 1 students. The experience of a lecture format involving many students from different courses was therefore an unknown quantity at the outset.
1.3.3 Courses rather than individual students opt into this system (so the individual student does not have an 'option' not to attend any Departmental Option!) No restriction was placed on numbers in this particular lecture-based Departmental Option and it proved quite a popular choice with 62 registered students from 4 different undergraduate courses plus a shifting population of an additional 5-10 students who voluntarily attended one or more sessions of interest to them.
1.3.4 The four BA (Hons) courses opting into the system (together with numbers formally registering) were Contemporary Arts (9), Fine Art (20), Photography (27) and TV Production Design (6). This hints at a wide range of professional interests and abilities with which the Lecture Series was largely planned to cope.
1.3.5 Four of the Photography students were present under various European Exchange arrangements and did not complete the full semester. Slightly unusually three students who were not registered on the course chose to complete and submit assignments! (See "Who's Who?", section 2.5.3iv below.)
1.3.6 Art courses are generally "studio based" and significant sections of the courses are structured around tutorial and small seminar groupings. Although all students are likely to have some "course-based" lecture experience this doesn't necessarily extend to larger-scale 'formal lectures' attended by a cross-section of the department many of whom do not know or usually work with one another. In addition some art practices are particularly individual in their approach and the advent of increased recruitment and various alternative 'pathways' may mean that students at the same Level on the same Course do not necessarily know one another. This is of little or no consequence in a ('traditional') formal presenter-to-student Lecture situation but has implications once the Information Technology or situation encourages or allows for any degree of interaction (see "Developing teamwork", section 2.5.3vi below).
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