152 UAL staff came together for the 2016 Learning and Teaching Day – an intensive day of discussions, workshops and presentations on the theme of Reimagining creative spaces for teaching and learning at UAL.
Dr Jos Boys opened the day with a keynote on new forms of learning space, what she described as a ‘learning commons’. These spaces can be cafes, open access computing rooms, libraries or any other non-formal teaching space. She argued that while many universities are investing in their estates, we need to hold onto what we want learning spaces to engender, such as problem-seeking, uncertainty, and flow to create spaces that encourage experimention, collaboration, privacy and personalisation.
The day was packed with workshops and presentations tackling the conference theme from a wide range of angles, many of them touching on the keynote’s point – that we need to hang on to the mess of art and design higher education.
LCC Graphic Design students Sean Wyatt-Lively and Rachel Littlewood presented on ‘Rhizomatic Learning in the Riso Room’, showing how being able to experiment with a space at LCC improved their learning experience. Their tutors ‘donated’ a room furnished only with a few tables and chairs, which the students furnished and adapted to suit their needs. They said:
‘The sense of community enabled by the space enabled collaboration, peer learning, and a positive student experience.’
Air Studio founder Anna Hart presented on ‘Learning and Teaching in Silence’, taking a group of staff on a silent walk around Oxford Circus. The group took in churches, pubs, the BBC and an underground car park, all in silence, with phones left behind at LCF. A post-walk discussion revealed that it had been a thought-provoking experience that provided relief from the business of daily life.
Nick Kaplony and Edwina Fitzpatrick talked about The Source: A new and developing teaching and learning tool for the delivery of Enterprise and Employability within the fine art curriculum. The Source is a project developed in partnership with Artquest, addressing the nature and challenges of working and practicing as an artist.
Sion Fletcher and Nelson Crespo presented on Digital Space – hosting platforms for creative web projects at CSM. Sion delivers a 20-week lecture series teaching coding to graphic design students. He has built them a custom website which is highly flexible, and enables submission and assessment. As students only submit links (rather than content), Sion says the site is potentially ‘as big as the internet’.
Terry Finnegan, National Teaching Fellow and Head of Student Attainment at LCF, closed the conference with a keynote questioning whether learning spaces reflect the diverse needs of students. She argued that it is the responsibility of all staff members to develop an inclusive curriculum. Higher Education has to accept the implications of working with non-traditional students, and start working with them at the point of entry. Creating a sense of belonging is critical to success and retention.