Teaching through synchronous technology

The whole MA Art and Social Practice teaching team spoke as part of a good practice showcase at a recent UHI symposium on synchronous technology. Anne Bevan (Orkney College UHI), Lindsay Blair (Moray College UHI) and Roxane Permar and myself from the CRC in Shetland presented ‘A marriage made in heaven or hell? Virtual teaching and learning for practitioners in socially engaged art’.

Teaching about ‘social practice’ via screens of disembodied heads has obvious challenges but problematises lots of things we usually take for granted, which is useful in itself. One of the paradoxes of teaching this course this way is that communicating virtually makes place even more important. Our current students are spread out between the Hebrides and Wolverhampton, which makes for great discussions (and a whole new perspective on UK weather reports).

My module, Communities of Practice, has theoretical elements but is also intended to help students reflect on and develop their own communities of practice. We discuss ongoing debates about the usefulness of online communication in CoPs – it all gets a bit meta! – but student feedback on the way we use real time tech is highly positive, especially as opposed to all-asynchronous methods.

In January some of us will meet ‘in person’ for the first time, at an optional Winter School here in Shetland. Activities include a practical weaving workshop, led by one of our students who can’t make it, via VC.