Friday 19 November 2010

Some Key Findings, Plus My First Podcast!

I gave a summary presentation on my research at the University of Cape Town's mini-conference on "Technology in Education", yesterday. After discussing the research problem and rationale, I covered my research questions and findings from 2010’s pilot study in the private school. Some interesting points were:

The emotional intelligence of a Visual Arts class' learners should be a key deciding factor for the type of social media platform an educator chooses. If it is low, giving learners the ability to comment and rate each others work, and interact with audiences outside class, could prove problematic . 

The out-of-school support learners' have should be considered upfront in curriculum design. For example, encouraging learners from well-resourced homes to use scanners and cameras at home to digitize their art, could address bottlenecks in class and free-up equipment for use by less-privlidged learners.

Online portfolios could be a useful reference for exam moderators in the event of learners taking advantage of different schools' exam schedules to exchange work. This is a suprising instance of digital media actually helping to combat plagiarism!

There is considerable scope for the DOE and/or WCED to use training in Web 2.0 technologies and online communities to promote a Visual Arts educator community of practice that could share curricula, best practice and insights into how to teach and benchmark ITC literacies relevant to the post-school realities of modern creative professionals. Unfortunately, given the government's poor record in educational innovation, support for such an initiative is highly unlikely.

Given the support Visual Arts educators in Secondary School need to teach Web2.0 literacies in class, it is magical thinking for the government or school management to think that such initiatives could spontaneously "bubble-up"! The school executive and curricular advisers must get involved in thinking how to bridge the participatory gap between educators and learners AND how best to support learners with developing ICT literacy skills (like e-safety, information assessment and digital citizenship) that now arguably cut across ALL subjects.

All conference speakers' talks were recorded for podcasting by the CET's Lovemore Nalube. I'm sure mine will show how challenging summarizing over a year's research in forty minutes was :).

While feedback to the presentation was enthusiastic, I know I can do much better as a speaker. I also learnt a lot from Kevin Sherman's talk on creating memorable presentations. So, my resolutions for next year will include taking my public speaking to the next level AND simplifying my slides to be more memorable. I trust that this will make my second podcasting appearance so much better!


  1. Congratulations on your worthwhile work, Trav. Were I at high school, having access to fellow learners' portfolios would definitely be inspirational and probably encourage the exchange of ideas. I certainly would have made use of such an opportunity had it been available in my day. Any idea if universities/art schools encourage e-portfolio presentation?

  2. I am only aware of one other University or Art School prescribing e-portfolio use by learners: An architecture instructor from CPUT (Jolanda De Villiers Morkel) has encouraged all "Principles of Architectural Design 3" learners to create online portfolios of their works (with Carbonmade, blogs or Yola) and to collaborate in a Facebook Group this year. She also uses Google Docs to share files with them. She is going to document some of the outcomes of this for me, which I will publish to this blog. Hopefully, other tertiary educators may see it and learn from her example.

  3. Thank you very much for providing us with the inspiration to introduce the use of e-portfolios in our third year architectural design programme this year.
    So sorry I missed the presentation yesterday due to a departmental 2011 planning workshop. I will view the Fundani podcast...

  4. Follow this link to read about our use of facebook in architectural design teaching:

  5. Travis, that is surprising, considering the benefits to be derived from viewing the work of other tertiary art students. As far as I know, art production doesn't happen in a vacuum, and knowing what fellow practitioners are up to is vitally important. Need I even state this seemingly obvious fact? At tertiary institutions (where one would assume access to and knowledge of technology is not a problem), e-portfolis should be a prerequisite to completing each year. Or am I being presumptuous?

  6. Institutional change takes place slowly and it may take a long time before "e-portfolios are a prerequisite to completing each year": while there are several research papers showing the value of e-portfolios for visual creatives in well-resourced, developed world contexts, local researchers (like Jolanda and I) must still show that they offer similar benefits in a developing world one, as well.

    Successful examples may resonate with tertiary educators and other decision-makers, who can then work at overcoming obstacles to lecturers' curricular adoption of e-portfolios: For example, tertiary educators are often dis-incentivised by their institutions to improve curricula. Experimenting with curricular improvements can take valuable time away from their expected research-focus. As a result, the educator may actually be penalized in performance reviews for launching an educational improvement that took time away from finishing a research paper, for example!

  7. To further clarify my initial comment, Jolanda is based at the "Department of Architectural Technology" in the "Faculty of Informatics and Design" at CPUT . The third year subject she lectures in is called "Principles of Architectural Technology" and you can view examples of student portfolios by selecting the "info" tab under their Facebook group.

  8. You really should visit us! Recently did a Grade 11 digital Visual Arts webquest (curating a street art exhibition) delivered and presented on our intranet using Wordpress and iWeb.


This blog is moderated due to problems experienced by a few readers who could not submit unmoderated comments. Please keep your comment length under 300 words; any longer and you will struggle to submit it. Ta, Travis.

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