Spectral bodies in space? Artist-Teachers explore a virtual learning environment

J. Adams

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The rationale for establishing an e-learning community amongst the Art Education students stems from the specificities of their situation as learners and as visually/spatially adept students. The former refers to their distant teaching placements, and the latter their particular abilities in a range of visually-orientated arts subjects. Addressing the needs of these students as distance learners is necessary as a means of communication, support, and as a means of sharing their singular experience as ‘Beginning Teachers’. Attending to their adeptness as visual learners has meant supporting the use and development of online resources, encouraging ‘wiki’ systems of display and individual web page development, and attempting to establish a visual/spatial electronic environment rather than one that is soley text-based. The ultimate goal is to have an online community of art e-learners, which overcomes the isolating experiences of school placements and is effective for students with a predilection for the visual and spatial over the textual. There are three distinctive groups of students that are included within the larger Art Education community of learners: the part-time PhD, the full-time one-year PGCE Art and Design Secondary, and the full-time one year PGCE Art and Design Primary students. Each of these groups are geographically remote from college for most of their course, and have to rely on distance learning techniques for information, communication and support. A key feature of all of these art education students is their common background and experience as visual and spatial learners with specialist skills in the arts, such as Fine Art, Textiles, Illustration, Graphics, etc.. Although they often have extensive skills in image-building and graphics software such as Photoshop, Flash, and Illustrator, they often have limited web related skills and experience (other than as internet users). There are also disproportionately high levels of dyslexia in the PGCE groups The Moodle software that the college employs as the basis for Learn.gold and Community.gold is used for all of these groups’ sites. Each of the sites are compartmentalised according to generic requirements – events calendars, online conferencing, news and information areas, external links etc., – and course-specific items such as exhibition areas, assignment and assessments, and programme monitoring etc.. In order to meet the requirements of Initial Teacher Training the students must achieve prescribed ‘Standards’, and most of the content of the PGCE course has been designed to meet these. Consequently the e-learning environments have a correspondingly large amount of space devoted to topics like lesson planning, pupil assessment and online key skills tests. These are partly dealt with through links, tutor resources: Keynote/PowerPoint resources, Word information documents and external links to sources of information and advice that tutors have prepared and supplied on line. Since the bulk of the Standards have to be met through teaching experience, the sharing of that experience through conferencing is one of the most popular aspects of the course. This is heightened by the absence of personal contact: the students have to spend so much of the course in schools away from their peers that they gravitate towards these forums. The experience of learning to teach is often overwhelming, in its combination of social interactions and the acquisition of professional authority. These are readily discussed in detail, and the forums seem to acquire a life of their own as the minutiae of the transformation from trainee to teacher is conducted electronically. I have established a group of keen learners to share their experiences, conducted interviews with keen and experienced participants, and I am setting up online evaluations and questionnaires for more immediate responses from the users.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventExtending Classroom Walls - University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Jun 2005 → …


ConferenceExtending Classroom Walls
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period15/06/05 → …


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