Designs on eLearning Conference

  • Year: 2007
  • Website: No longer available

The second Designs on eLearning international conference in the use of technology for teaching and learning in art, design and communication was hosted by the University of the Arts, London on the 12th - 14th September 2007.

The conference aimed to cast light on established practice in the field, on innovations in teaching and learning with technology, on the challenges and successes presented by the visual nature of our discipline, and on the benefits of online and blended learning. It built on the success of Designs on eLearning 2005 and on the subsequent Online Conference and Symposium in disseminating and promoting good practice, primarily but not exclusively, in art, design and communication.

Around 150 delegates attended from the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, the Middle East, Australasia, South and North America.

Charles Saumarez Smith, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts and the former Director of the National Gallery opened the conference with a fascinating account of his time at the National Gallery during the digital innovations. He illustrated the way in which the presentation of digital materials in galleries had changed and how visitors familiarity with them had altered the modes of access.

Gráinne Conole Professor of e-Learning at the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University delivered the Keynote address, drawing on her experience with eLearning at Bristol, Southampton and at the Open University. On the theme of 'Design and the student experience: understanding students' actual use of technology in the design process'Grainne provided an overview of research into exploring students' actual use of technologies. Her findings suggest that today's students are immersed in a technology-enhanced learning environment, exhibiting potentially changing patterns of learning which highlight the social and experiential aspects of learning. The talk used this as a basis for rethinking the ways in which we design learning activities and presented a visual learning design methodology which aims to make the process more explicit.

The presentations at the conference were of a high standard and most broke new ground with innovative solutions to improving learning using technology. Web 2.0 was a popular theme and papers included several on Second Life, the use of blogs, and “multiplayer” eLearning. The use of VLEs to deliver learning increases apace and many papers focussed on overcoming the limitations of the software in art education. Since by nature artists and art students are more at home with the visual there was an understandable focus on making VLEs more attuned to this sense. Another interesting theme was the use of sound both in artistic production and in learning. Several papers focussed on colour and its use in computer assisted learning. Perhaps the most interesting and popular thread involved the collaboration between individuals and departments made possible by recent web developments.

Delegates showed great enthusiasm for the conference and unanimously wished it to continue. It was felt that an annual conference would be desirable and to that end the organisers entered talks with Keith Bailey, the Director of the e-Learning Institute at College of Arts and Architecture of Pennsylvania State University. In future it is intended that the conference will alternate between the USA and the UK. Designs on eLearning will be held at Pennsylvania State University in 2008.

The social highlight was the conference dinner at Tate Modern. On a wonderful evening, delegates strolled over the Millennium Bridge to a reception on the 6th Floor terrace overlooking the river. A private view of the exhibition by Helio Otticia - the Body of Colour preceded an excellent and convivial dinner. On of the joys of an intimate conference such as Designs on eLearning is the opportunity to meet up again with presenters and delegates from previous online and face to face events. We are all looking forward to 2008 at Pennsylvania State University and 2009 in London.