DIGITAL CULTURE DROP IN SESSION – Thursday 10th May – 1.30pm – 3.30pm LVMH Theatre E003

On Thursday 17th May, Central Saint Martins hosted another of their quarterly Digital Culture Drop-In Sessions. At the sessions, students and staff can come to meet the team of Technology Enhanced Co-ordinators from across the six colleges and seek out help for any digital related disasters they might be experiencing, or instead, listen in on one of the several presentations offered up from those working on improving and broadening the digital cultures of UAL. 

So who are the Technology Enhanced Co-ordinators and what do they do?

Jennifer Williams-Baffoe is a Technology Enhanced Co-ordinator at Central Saint Martins, doing whatever possible to “serve staff and students within their teaching an learning process”. Like Caroline, most people come to see her with Moodle problems and troubleshooting, but whether “you’re a lecturer and you want to know more about Microsoft Office or a student trying to get to work with virtual reality”, Jennifer can advise and connect you to someone who can provide the proper support. She explains, “What I find rewarding is that when I came for my interview here at Saint Martins I said i was very interested in looking at how we use technology to teach and that’s exactly what I get to do now”. If you need help with anything from organising your emails or working with photogrammetry software, contact Jennifer at j.williams-baffoe@csm.arts.ac.uk!

Vija Skangale is a Technology Enhanced Co-ordinator at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon; a role which centres on “supporting academics and students but also working with course leaders on how they can enhance the learning environment”. Her work is embedded within the digital culture of UAL, which is constantly evolving to keep up with the demands of an increasingly digital world, something that she at times finds difficult as “students will want to learn about new technology and practices” whereas “academics will generally want to focus on the traditional” and that which they know. If you study at CCW and are experiencing any digital difficulties, contact Vija at v.skangale@arts.ac.uk!

Caroline Rogers is a Technology Enhanced Co-ordinator at London College of Fashion. Most of her work revolves around sorting out any technical issues students or staff may have with programs like Moodle and Workflow. Caroline thinks that “it’s time to branch out and learn different skills and softwares” rather than operating on a “need-to-know basis” alone. The opportunity to learn and keep up with such aspects of digital culture is certainly not out of reach, students and staff just need “take advantage of the support available to them”. You can do just that by contacting Caroline at c.rogers@fashion.arts.ac.uk!

How could they help you? 

Qi Lyu from MA Photography wanted to learn more about how to use and incorporate virtual reality into her work. After studying journalism and marketing for her prior degree, she began at CSM without a strong digital or scientific background, so trying to get to grips with software as advanced as virtual reality was quite the struggle. Luckily she dropped by the Digital Culture session yesterday and spoke to Jennifer, who gave Qi suggestions for different resources she could use as well as putting her in touch with different teachers who specialise in such software. Make sure to look out for Qi Lyu’s work in the future!

What were the presentations about?

John Jackson talks about the virtual classroom that’s taking over UAL.

John Jackson is an Education Developer at UAL whose work centres on ‘digital pedagogy’ in each of the six London colleges. At the moment much of his time is dedicated to working with and introducing staff and students to what is called the ‘the virtual classroom’ or as it is less memorably titled, the “Blackboard Collaborate Ultra”.

“The virtual classroom extends teaching and learning into an online space. It’s used by courses at UAL that are low residency or purely online”. In many ways it is similar to Skype, except it is designed specifically for teaching and learning. While it can be accessed live from anyone when provided with a link, via a laptop, tablet or phone, it can also be recorded and then shared afterwards.

After taking a digital register of students attending the class, the tutor becomes the ‘presenter’, able to talk and share websites, presentations and notes as if in a real lecture. There are even digital pointers and pens able to be used to highlight and add notes to the virtual blackboard for students to see. Everyone in the digital classroom has the chance to see and hear each other, send a notification that signals putting your hand up, send questions and comments to your tutor and classmates in a live forum section, and take part in collective polls.

At the moment the online classroom can be used to conduct interviews with prospective students as well as by all of the short online courses at UAL, from fashion illustration to business courses.

Although John admits, “I don’t see it taking over from face to face teaching and I don’t really think it should”, the virtual classroom certainly makes courses and teaching accessible for everyone and will only continue to grow in number alongside the rise of online university courses. Maybe you will even be raising a digital arm sometime soon!

What’s next?

If you missed this session make sure to attend the Digital Culture Festival at Central Saint Martins on 12th July from 12.30-4.30pm where the team will be exploring all things relating to the theme of Connectivity! Until then if you have any queries about digital culture or need some relief from digital distress (whatever it may be!), don’t hesitate to contact one of Technology Enhanced Co-ordinators!