Right now: Work is renovating our curriculum. Fan shen is not the stated goal but you’d be crazy to miss the chance to scorch earth and build a new church you’d be proud of in 2016, when the first graduates come plopping out the other side. Years of frustration are bubbling up along with the usual academic flights of fantasy. Kind of like pink champagne.
The stated goal (put simply) is that students choose a more flexible structure in their degree. They choose a kind of ‘spine’, for example sound production or mathematics, then they add modular tracks that create a good collaboration. So for example Built Environment and Game Design, or Video Production and Performance, or what ever becomes useful in the years ahead. Then sprinkle Electives on top. The idea is good, but mind numbingly difficult.
Figuring out what to do with Audio is a good example. You might want to make Audio a spine to which other courses are connected. But a bit of analysis (pushing pieces of paper around in circles) makes it clear that a wide range of artforms can benefit from sound design. You’d thus place it as a secondary track. But then you have people who just want to create sound work. It has to be both a primary and a secondary track… and also an elective for people who just need basic skills in sound production – hell, put it in EVERY possible configuration. Now you have to make versions of every course for the level of specificity and your attempt to simplify everything ends up making it more complicated.
Or my area – video production. Let’s say I place their first documentary production at the start of year two. That means that they haven’t had a photography course yet, so either I move it along a bit so that photography gets them first, or I bring photography into the course as ‘cinematography’, which then duplicates some of the photography course. If I move it along, then Audio has to move along, because they’ll need to be composing later and … So maybe then I could require a photography course in year one. But year one is earmarked for conceptual learning and one of the things we want to do is have the students actually build concepts before whining about how-big-is-my-camera. And my conviction is that in 2012 anyone that needs to write an essay also needs basic camera skills – so Electives.
It’s like doing multiple jigsaw puzzle at once, where the pieces move on all of them. Which leads to…
I keep reading about how the university system is doomed. Usually the author goes on to tout some kind of ‘online revolution’. That’s a nonsense. People are still squabbling about how to provide a single course online. They are nowhere near figuring out how the hell to guide people through an entire programme of courses. Not. even. started. Go and have a look at Open University or iTunesU courses – they’re all isolated bits and pieces – hobbies and enthusiasms. Popular Mechanics. The word ‘university’ encapsulates that which online libraries cannot achieve.
It’s a good thing that we’re not relying on online teaching because it’s a toxic dump. Any time a paradigm is danger of forming you can bet on some structural weakness causing an embarrassing collapse, finger pointing & excuses. Since I’ve been at Kunst Kamp we’ve had three Learning Management Systems come and go, wasting effort and breeding more Luddites. Last time the Death Star shelled out maximum dollar trying to force some stability – but overspending has not stopped the latest tower from visibly leaning. I’ve backed down from such ideas until a system lasts more than 2 years running.
BUT: I must admit that having delivered the same lectures 7 or 8 times over the last few years, I’m ready for some other way to deliver the goods. The temptation is to change things to keep yourself from being bored, but the students are still arriving at the ideas for the first time every semester, and the Lumière Brothers still created the Cinematographe whether or not I’m over it.
I need textbooks, electronic documents, with movies and quizzes and all that. Must be the hot spot because that’s where a battle is raging: on the left are Adobe with their InDesign/Folio system, to the right Apple with iBook Author, in the middle are muddles of middleware for Moodle.
That iBooks are poison for information should be clear to anyone (even that utterly predictable shill John Gruber momentarily denounced the idea before his leash was yanked). There is NO WAY I am ever going to make a document that can only be seen on a ‘book’ sold by one publisher. People that defend this because ‘Apple doesn’t owe anything to publishing in general’ should try to remember THE ENTIRE DAMN POINT OF A TEXTBOOK. Jesus, people it’s not football.
That leaves Adobe by default. There’s been an awful lot of leaving Adobe by default recently.
I’ve peeked at InDesign and the folio format. Maybe. I think Acrobat is probably a better idea, even if it’s not designed for Pads it will run on most things and even on paper. The ambition for the coming years is to start making teaching aids that will do the lectures for me – adds work at the front, takes it away at the back. Means that I can segue from running ten tutorials a week to running a script on Mondays. And if indeed universities are going to crumble, well I’ll be on the life raft won’t I?