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Design Overview – Revision

October 18, 2007

LITERATURE REVIEW of the following texts: (Thanks to Su Ballard for the sourcing of these texts)

Designing Graduates: Reshaping Undergraduate Study in New Media | ANZCA 2002 Conference Proceedings Gold Coast 2002| Danny Butt | Waikato Institute of Technology & Macquarie University download a copy here

The Arts Strategy 2006 – 2008 | Ministry of Education (version 4Jan 2007) access a printable version here

Digital Art Curriculum Framework | ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee (2007) download a copy here

Computer Graphics Knowledge Base Report | Tony Alley, Curriculum Knowledge Base Working Group Leader read the report online here


Danny Butt’s paper Designing Graduates: Reshaping Undergraduate Study in New Media is essential reading in the preparation of the Digital Literacy paper I am designing. In it, Butt “argues for a new undergraduate education model which integrates critical, creative and technical skills.” He outlines the change in the contemporary undergraduate student and the need to reform learning outcomes, graduate profiles and curriculum, in relation to the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on both education and the prospective marketplace.
New Media
Specifically, Butt looks at New Media as both an object of study and a mode of production, and the complexities of combining the two. It is this understanding of the integration of media in relation to other disciplines that we are seeking to ensure is core to the Digital Literacy paper. Furthermore, he recognises that the rise of the creative industries has increased the regular contact potential students have with “informational objects” and thus each becomes a “media worker” in their own right. This has in turn led to an individualisation of learning and a need to develop a personal responsibility in learning that will be adaptable. The speed with which media advances is also a demand for adaptability, which again links to our requirements that rather than being proficient in specific software that learners are conversant in the application of that software to different contexts and are thus able to adapt to new situations as required. Butt relates this to employer demands for “adaptive recruits” “adaptable people” and “transformative employees” as in turn, the employer is required to be flexible and adaptive in its relationships with various stakeholders, suppliers and customers in an ICT affected marketplace.
Graduate Profiles
In light of the previous discussions, Butt determines a re-specification of skills required for a graduate in his attempt to define a “new model for transferable skills in the new media age”, and which are defined thus:

  1. “the need to apply their craft in increasingly short production processes”
  2. “the need to work in interdisciplinary teams”
  3. “the need to adapt to new situations in rapidly changing environments”

Moreover, he suggests that the contemporary new media workplace are looking for prospective employees with the following attributes:

  1. “An experimental, self-critical and individualised process for undertaking research and generating ideas.”
  2. “A commitment to craft and an understanding of the social context and social impact of that craft.” specifically when “This knowledge is gained through practice, as well as knowledge of the history of this practice.”
  3. “An ability to apply skills and knowledge in new situations – flexibility.”
  4. “An ability to specify (define required time and resources, manage, and evaluate complex projects, with an emphasis on self-evaluation.”
  5. “An ability to work as part of a team.”

These are areas core to the development of a new Digital Literacy paper and will provide a framework for its development.
Curriculum Development
Butt surmises that “Education for this changing professional environment can no longer just be theoretical – or even a combination of theory and practice. It requires critical and collaborative practitioners, and the reshaping of the undergraduate curriculum with their future in mind.” Earlier in the paper, he discusses the differences between humanities-based bachelor programmes (i.e. theoretical based at University providers) with those of applied knowledge institutions (Colleges and Polytechnics), claiming that neither provides a satisfactory overview to to the undergraduate student. For example, here at Otago Polytechnic, he would suggest that we ensure our focus is not only on technical processes, but also on the “history and problem solving techniques of practice-based disciplines”. On reflection of this, this new paper at Otago Polytechnic should be context-driven rather than software-driven.
He poses the following as practical methods in the development of skills as noted above:

  1. “Teaching students to understand the context of their craft.”
  2. “Providing an opportunity to explore the relationship between the crafts if various disciplines.”
  3. “Providing the opportunity for students to work collaboratively on projects, particularly in their final year of study.”
  4. “Using student-developed learning contracts at undergraduate level.”
  5. Internships and professional placement that is both chosen and critically evaluated by the students, rather than just providing experience.
  6. “Providing casual writing experiences for students in practice-based disciplines” rather “than giving them ‘theory’ courses.”

The Arts Strategy 2006-2008 from the Ministry of Education, is a useful resource to look at what secondary education is aiming to teach our learners in advance of their entry to our undergraduate programme. Useful to note is that there are many core aims, in line with those of Butt. “Cognitive growth” is is a key opportunity that the ministry believes is integral to a young person’s development and leads back to a shared notion of contextualisation. Moreover they go on to state that young students will “participate and engage in the Arts as practitioner and audience” enforcing this view and that they will ‘develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, competencies and values in the Arts that support other learning contexts” enabling a route to flexibility and adaptability that Butt called for in the prospective contemporary employee.
Although The Arts Strategy 2006-2008 doesn’t call specifically for a guide to the implementation of new media practices within schools, it does note the use of these resources as integrated in the programme as a whole.

The Digital Art Curriculum Framework aims to provide a standard structure for any institution that is enhancing or creating a Digital Art programme. It covers the research of existing programmes (USA), discussion of challenges, definitions of Digital Art, areas of knowledge/curriculum, discussion of interdisciplinary study, and issues around infrastructure and resourcing. This will provide a base to develop the practical details and discussions of the implementation of the paper.

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