Anxiety and Security

The eleventh Designs on e-Learning conference in the use of technology for learning and teaching in art, design and media in Higher Education. DeL 2016 was hosted by The New School in New York on 21st and 22nd of September 2016.

As digital technologies continue to transform the creative and pedagogic landscape, we face exciting possibilities and new challenges for the future of education. Themed Anxiety and Security, DeL 2016 aims to explore digital anxieties in art and design higher education, and collectively build ideas for reaching states of security and wellbeing.

Conference Themes

Anxiety and Security in the curriculum

Learning can be risky, putting students into vulnerable positions; learning in digital spaces can amplify or attenuate anxiety, depending on the pedagogical approach taken. Open, collaborative online practices can be powerful and relevant for learners, but can cut against the ‘safe’ private, or bounded spaces that Higher Education has traditionally provided. How should we take advantage of open and visible online pedagogies whilst maintaining a balance between learners’ security and anxiety? How can we mitigate fears around collaboration, isolation and identity without losing the potential for risk-taking?

Identity and Privacy in Online Educational Spaces

Working in digital spaces involves publicly sharing work and engaging with interest- or subject-based communities of practice. This entails the formation of identities - at individual, group, course, community and University levels. What is the presence of the instructor in online communities? How do we respect the humble, diligent student in online spaces where the noisy participant may be favoured over the thoughtful scholar? What does it mean to have an ‘authentic’ learning experience online? How important are privacy settings, and how do notions of the public and private play out, particularly in diverse cultural groups? How do students develop community values in online spaces? How are educators using systems to build a sense of belonging? Who is reading platforms’ terms of service and how are learners’ and educators’ labor being monetized?

Digital Presence and Professionalization

The development of a digital presence or online identity is increasingly important for students and academics, particularly in the creative industries where the practitioner’s identity is closely coupled with the artefacts they produce. Furthermore, universities have also become institutions that grant credentials to ensure jobs, and education is seen as entailing a ‘return on investment’. What are the possibilities and pitfalls of digital networking (for students and academics)? How can digital profiles/CVs, showcasing digital artefacts be developed in pedagogically beneficial ways? What role do e-portfolio systems or a Domain of One’s Own play? How are digital work placements, or digital experiences provided by employers helping learners develop? What role do alternative educational institutions and credentialing play in becoming a professional and developing a creative career?

Digital Wellbeing

It is vital that students and academics attend to health, safety, relationships, work-life balance and wellbeing in digital spaces. Jisc (2015) suggests that Digital Wellbeing is the ‘capstone’ of digital capabilities. How can we use the digital to foster community actions and wellbeing? How should we encourage learners to act safely and responsibly in digital environments? How can we help them to manage digital stress, workload and distraction? How do we encourage learners to act with concern for the human and natural environment when using digital tools? How to mitigate against FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? How do we encourage self-reflection/regulation through digital tools? How do we counter isolation and cyber-bullying within online learning?