The programme functions on the basis of a community of practice organised around seven learning activities. Broadly speaking, these activities are concerned with three areas:

Therefore, being a participant of the programme would involve you getting back into the studio, so to speak, getting online and collaborating with other art teachers and tutors, and getting involved in trying out new ideas in the artroom and other settings. An important aspect of the programme is to integrate different facets of one’s personal and professional life, developing oneself as an ARTIST/DESIGNER RESEARCHER TEACHER

Aims of the Programme

The main aims of the programme are to:

Meet the need for critically focused advanced-level study for art and design teachers within the contexts of professional in-career development and life-long learning; extend teachers’ learning in areas of creative art and design practice, research and teaching within an online community of practice; make learning experiences available to teachers that take advantage of Web. 2.0 technologies to network with peers and agencies for the advancement of professional skills, personal capabilities and educational innovation and change in the field of art and design, and to provide teachers with pioneering learning and teaching processes that place a premium on contribution, collaboration, responsibility and autonomy.

Description of the Programme

This is a part-time, two year MA programme that operates by means of net technology social tools (for example, blogs, wikis, social networking platforms, social bookmarking etc.) or the participatory web, also known as web 2.0. It is a blended one, meaning some of the programme is face-to-face, some distance. The extent of the face-to-face contact is small, though crucial, amounting to seminars and workshops held during eight days over the two years. The programme runs over two calendar years, it is a cohort-based one, which has a start and end date. The advantage of a cohort-based arrangement is that all concerned can form a close community that converses about programme activities right from the start. This is a new type of MA programme, one that embraces new ideas about learning and the kinds of active social spaces that can be nurtured online. By stressing the importance of fostering a learning community of art and design teachers the new programme endeavours to meet the challenge of providing authentic educational experiences that expose participants to a rich network of content and dialogue.

The aim is one of empowerment to take artistic and educational risks; the method is one of sense-making through connectedness.

Online Community of Practice

As mentioned above, the programme employs Web 2.0 technologies. These technologies are grounded in user-empowerment, especially in respect of user-contributed content. The programme stresses participation and collective authoring, and the freedom to share and re-use within a climate of open communication. Emphasis is placed on community-developed content and content collections developed by and for the user community. The programme will use LIT’s virtual learning environment (VLE), Moodle, for general course management, but also in relation to peer-led electronic discourse and contribution-orientated pedagogy. In addition, the programme looks outside the VLE environment to on-line communication tools that match up to current expectations of learner control and champions user empowerment as well as providing a rich blend of web-based social engagement practices. For example, alongside VLE course management, forum discussions and the like, blogs are used for profiles and art and design curriculum work, whilst wikis provide a platform for the co-creation of research materials.

The following chart is intended to highlight distinctive aspects of the programme, especially in relation to participation and contribution.

What the Programme IS NOT

What the Programme IS

Participants in the programme will not be working in isolation. The central point of the programme is to create a community of practice. The community is a close knit group of art educators (participants and tutors) who work together to examine, and follow through, on new ideas.
The programme is not "delivered" in the traditional sense of participants being given content to cover and respond to. Some content, for example in the form of articles and web sites will be presented, though mainly participants will be working together in association with tutors to search for content and co-author reports. For this reason participants will need to be highly motivated and pro-active.
The programme is not about the use of technology as such. Online communication is core to the programme, so participants will develop skills in using Web. 2.0 social software. However, the main point is one of taking advantage of the technology to encourage and support ongoing conversations within the community about ideas and work.
Participants in the programme will not be expected to undertake written thesis. Instead of a formal academic thesis participants will complete short, often multi-media based, assignments in collaboration with other community members and a short research report. Research focuses on self-study: a living inquiry into one’s personal-artistic-professional life.
Assessment is not something that is tagged on at the end and conducted just by tutors. The programme involves participants monitoring work, so self and peer-assessment methods are integrated into the programme activities. In effect, much attention is given to how participants see their own and others’ learning and take responsibility for their own input and decisions.
The programme is not a pre-packaged entity. The idea of nurturing a community of practice is by definition a work-in-progress, something that is a creative challenge and opportunity for all concerned. In this regard, the programme is better thought of as an organic entity, as a voyage of discovery rather than a blue print. In short, participants will need to commit themselves to contributing to the community in order for it to grow.
The programme does not specify an exact workload input for participants per week. Because it is online the programme is flexible, which means that participants workloads can vary according to circumstances. That said, you could imagine your workload being in the order of eighteen hours per week broken down roughly into five hours communicating and collaborating with the online community, five hours searching and reviewing content and other periods spending time making art/design work. In other words the pattern of the workload will change from activity to activity.


A Programme of Seven Activities

Activity GEL Formation and consolidation of online community of practice

Activity MULL Reflection and re-evaluation: revisiting one's art/design practice

Activity VET Contemporary art and design critique

Activity REV Creative art and design practice

Activity COP Analysis of art and design curriculum and contexts

Activity BUZZ Art and design practice, research and teaching

Activity NET Contemporary art and design critique


- Pre-induction and one-day induction programme. Areas of focus are the social and situated nature of learning and self-study as a form of professional practice. What it means to be an artist-teacher is examined. Attention is placed on group discussion, posts and threads and setting personal standards for self-regulation and management of learning and inquiry in cooperation with peers. Use is made of Community Walk to aid mutual awareness.


- Attention shifts to the learner's identity as an artist/designer to current and/or past practice. Methods include autobiographical tracing or mapping of one's identity as an artist/designer. The activity involves presentation in an online environment using a range of media possibilities, such as uploading photographs and video to a personal blog or creating links to sites featuring the work of artists and designers. Emphasis is placed on collaboration to identify personal and common artworld preferences, and ad hoc collectives are established for the exchange of ideas and show work.


- This activity concerns openess and receptivity to contemporary art and design; ideas, forms and situations. Learners interrogate and conceptualise forms that most interest them. It involves examining local, national and international exhibitions and cultural events. Attention is given to modernist and postmodern paradigms. The activity involves searching and tagging, acting in the role of a critic and negotiating discourses within the community of practice.


- One area is dealt with in this activity: creative practice. Building on prior experience, this is a sustained period of art/design making. Being inquiry minded is central as is fostering relations within the community of practice, especially in the context of mutual supports and encouragement, and offsetting isolation.


- Two main areas are dealt with. One, contemporary concepts of art and design education, and two, teacher research to develop a deeper understating of learning, teaching, curriculum and school/community contexts. The research is framed by the learner's own contexts and questions. Emphasis is placed on diverse methods to capture the work of an art department and the teaching-learning culture, and on the ongoing sharing of findings with the group.


- This activity is about networking and linking, explaining and promoting the mutual aims and work of one's art department and some outside cultural agency via a linked blog or website. Emphasis is placed on approaches to online communication and peer collaborations based on geographical location.


- This activity is concerned with curriculum innovation and teacher research and the integration of art/design practice, theory and education. Emphasis is placed on critical pedagogy, living inquiry, transformation, change agency and creating reform orientated resources within a collaborative group.

What will be required?

The programme involves a commitment to online participation and to face to face workshops and offline study and creative practice. The total work effort over the two years is 1800 hours, working on the basis of 45 weeks per calendar year of the programme (the month of august and the Christmas break are not part of the programme schedule/timetable). Programme assignments are assessed for each of the seven activities and credit is given for online participation and the creation of a professional teaching portfolio.