Logging on to video lectures
From online art collaborations with virtual characters on Second Life to video tutorials via Skype, University of the Arts London lecturers are increasingly using the internet to teach.
Members of staff at UAL are increasingly aware of the growing “Learning Black Market” and are now aiming to utilize the internet to their advantage.
The Learning Black Market is information obtained from unconventional sources such as Wikipedia, Youtube videos and virtual worlds – as opposed to more traditional learning from books and academic journals.
Some lecturers at UAL are now conducting entire lectures and tutorials to students in the UK and abroad via online video programmes such as Skype.
Tutorials via Skype
Iestyn Williams, a lecturer in Fda/BA Production for Live Events and Television has been using Skype to conduct tutorials with his students for nearly a year.
He explained: “One of the problems recognised on the course is that students don't attend one to one tutorials.
“This is because of timetables, availability with lectures and sometimes students need help with something when there isn't a lecturer at hand,” he added.
Williams explained how he shows students specific dissertations live on screen.
“I can show specific lines in a brief with them. I can play music, video or sound files and we can share that. Most importantly is I can send them the recording of the tutorial,” he said.
FDA Production for Live Events and TV student Marie-France Kanumbedi Idikayi told ALN that she supports the move.
“I really found the online tutorial useful. I saved time and I saved money,” she said.
UAL staff have also been utilising what Virtual Worlds like Second Life have to offer in terms of higher education learning.
Second Life is a user-created online world, which enables users to interact with each other through virtual characters. It is also used by the education industry to promote online learning.
Nottingham University have created an entire university within the virtual world, where students can visit past lectures, attend tutorials with their lecturers and organise virtual meetings.
Students studying architecture are using the site to design virtual towns, whilst graphic design students use the programme to make illustrations.
Some UAL staff and students are currently using Second Life to link up and exchange ideas, information and collaborate on art and design projects using the software provided on the game.
London College of Communication senior lecturer in Online and Digital Journalism Russell Merryman has been investigating virtual worlds for many years, and is planning both research and teaching there.
“It is a great innovation. For those interested in visual and design arts, there are tools on Second Life that allow anyone to produce visual creations in three dimensions."
Merryman already uses Skype for tutorials for journalism students, and would like to develop his Digital Media Futures course to include more online engagement, possibly even being taught entirely online.
He said: “Digital Media Futures was set up as a traditionally taught MA course. It could be based entirely online with all the tutorial and seminar activity happening in a virtual world.
“Unlike Skype, virtual worlds allow large numbers of people to meet at the same time, and major companies like IBM already use them for conferences, saving millions of dollars in travel costs. We could have people from around the world participating, but its early days yet,” he laughed.