Simulating the Photography Studio: Online learning and the challenges to the art school
At Arts Education for Tomorrow
Asia Society, Hong Kong. September, 2016
The rhetoric is familiar – ‘the future is uncertain, we do not know what kind of jobs the next generation will have, some of them have not yet been invented’. If this is true, what should we be doing differently? Some education specialists claim the system is all wrong, that we are still educating our children for the needs of the industrial revolution, yet we have managed to innovate ourselves into a position of extraordinary technological achievement, with an accelerating trajectory.
At the centre of this unknown future emerges a new type of empowered learner; uncoupled from the credentialing institutions, owning and controlling what and when they learn, seeking the 24/7 on demand ‘Netflix’ experience, centred around online delivery and online communities. Online content is no longer incidental to learning, it is becoming essential.
How then, does an art school respond to this changing online environment – especially given that tactile, studio-based learning is a crucial part of the art student’s experience. Never mind classroom 4.0, we won’t use them. What will the studio of the future feel like? How do we engage students seeking the 24/7 experience (as well as the ones not seeking this), and what are some of the complexities faced by art school academics in this future?
This paper proposes a way of creating a simulated studio experience, and explores this through two case studies outlining practical photography courses delivered in fully online environments. One, a credentialed Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) delivered internationally through a specialised online provider, currently with 65,000+ enrolments over 18 months. The second, a fully online, credit award studio photography course delivered through a University Art School to both local and offshore students.