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Monday, 14 July 2014

Keynote I - Authentic Experiences and Risky Pedagogies: Creative Approaches to Curriculum Design in Networked Spaces - Helen Keegan (University of Salford)

Video recording of Keynote I.

Helen’s excellent presentation was engaging, informative, dynamic and exciting in terms of its key messages. Helen discussed her experiences of working on a pedagogic project based around mobile film making with students as a vehicle for exploring the balance between structure and direction vs creativity and freedom in learning. The ELVSS Project (Entertainment Lab for the Very Small Screen) was envisaged as a way of tapping creatively into new forms of production created as a response to the micro formats of film making that have emerged since the internet disrupted previously established patterns of film structure. Students were encouraged to develop their digital literacies by making 30 second films on their mobile phones. The idea was to move learners from relying on high quality cameras etc. and to encourage them to make engaging and creative stories quickly. The project was a multi-disciplinary venture and initially involved students from Salford, Strasberg and France working together to produce film clips around global sustainability. Whilst the project itself was intended to be innovative and exciting, the project team were aware of the complexity of the practicalities involved in the project. This led the teaching team to adopt a structured and directive approach to the task e.g. structuring the on line environment to highlight when students were expected to meet virtually as a way of attempting to negotiate the time and space zones students needed to work with.

The outputs from the project were rather disappointing, however, in terms of creativity and some of the films produced were a little sterile and boring. It appeared that the directed nature of the teaching had possibly constricted the process of creativity and imagination that had been hoped for. The teaching team were keen to re-evaluate and sought to introduce a more open and abstract approach to the task in the hope of bringing back imagination and creativity. Helen discussed how the team moved platforms and renamed the project MoCo360 (Mobile collaboration 360 blog). Students were informed about the platform and the idea and invited to collaborate if they wanted to. In essence, the academics took a back seat and let go of their previous control of the project. While this was something of a high risk approach, in practice this led to the students taking the initiative and showing increased ownership of the new project. Helen told us how the students embraced the chaos and flexibility and how this led to increased creativity and much higher quality outputs. Do have a look at the video attached to see these imaginative clips. Helen left us to consider the relationship between order and chaos and how the two sometimes need to swap clothing from time to time in order to free imagination and encourage creativity.

You can find out more about ELVSS project on the archive blog and by reading an article by Thomas Cochrane and Helen Keegan (2012), 'New Global Learning Cultures:
Interdisciplinarity through networked technologies'.

Presentation sides from Keynote I.
Active links from Helen's presentation:

Report by Patricia Cartney,  Programme Leader (Social Work), School of Health and Education

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