The Post Graduate Certificate and Diploma for Visual Communication were set up at LCC to help mature students wishing to convert career or progress onto a Master with the aid of a ‘bridging’ course. The typical applicant profile is from a non-design background – for example Geography, Biology, English, Psychology amongst others. The PgCert is part-time and therefore Home/EU; the full-time includes international students. Both courses are intensive and one year long. Part time is one day a week whilst full time is two days. The courses have always adopted online platforms to support ongoing critiques of the course work on non teaching days. With an intense course one week is a long time to go between sessions.
This is the second year that Course Leader Tony Pritchard has used a myblog.arts based platform with his students. The platform was first adopted by his courses last academic year and proved a popular and successful innovation so was again used this year. Before it was initially adopted several solutions were investigated and discussed with CLTAD. As Tony says:
“Originally we used image board via Blackboard. This was quite innovative at the time before Facebook, YouTube, Flickr became the norm. Given the issues with image board in a now more sophisticated online environment we investigated with CLTAD a replacement platform. A simple group blog that allowed students to upload and discuss visual work was chosen.
Uploading, reviewing and discussing images is a core activity on the blogs. Initially there were issues with very large images quickly consuming individuals’ storage quotas. Mike Kelly of CLTAD innovated and introduced a method to resize images automatically to address this. There were also some initial technical issues (with connections being dropped and occasional error messages). Mike Kelly monitored this and innovated an error reporting form – he was then able to debug and update the platform, resolving the identified issues.
The blog works well in terms of students being able to upload a range of digital material for discussion. Discussion is straight to the point rather than long-winded as might be the case with face-to-face discussion. We linked students personal blogs to the group blogs. The group blog acted as a quick chit chat and students could then post links to their blogs for further in-depth commentary and discussion. I think developing online confidence is important. In my view students who engage with this improve quicker.”
Tony concludes that:
“The group blog is pretty much self-supporting. Occasionally there are issues and therefore I would recommend quickly establishing good working relationships with the CLTAD eTeam. Get the students to adopt use early on in the course when they are enthusiastic and you are establishing expectations.”