As I was unable to attend the following week’s session (11 February) due to pressure of work, I took the opportunity to consult an Academic Support advisor about my research question whilst I was in work at a meeting 8 Feb.
In trying to meet my teaching committments, even though they are part-time, starting up a new collaborative project with another MA, the other outside professional activities I take on and having a new Course Leader is a challenge. Trying to balance all the things part time staff do is a situation acknowledged in the HEA report Shifting landscapes; Meeting the staff development needs of the changing academic workforce (p76) in many academic institutions.
“Workload and a particular challenge for part-time staff… For fractional staff this also creates a problem in that a 0.5 FTE academic post may require working hours far more than half a 37-hour week. This puts pressure on part-time academic staff, either to subsidise their employer by working in non-working time, or in limiting themselves to their contracted hours and not performing all the tasks normally expected of an academic. “
Part-time staff have to spend (even more) time tracking their time, and being vigilant about not “subsiding” their employers using strategies like arranging meetings on teaching days, trying to schedule full days teaching – as the rest of half days’ work is inevitably rendered unusable by time (willingly) spent talking to students or with colleagues or travelling – and remote electronic sessions.
So while I was in work for a meeting I was able to make a consultation with Academic Support and spent time with a person at a remove from my immediate group, was so useful. As ever, having to communicate a project helps to sharpen the focus of my thoughts.
But then later my idea slipped away from me like a beautiful silvery fish down into the murk.
Much of the research on ethics arises from the well established sectors of medical ethics and social research norms – which in turn rest on the law as the highest expression of culture.
Historically, the post WWII Nuremburg trials established a world wide medical ethical code: The judgment by the war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg laid down 10 standards to which physicians must conform when carrying out experiments on human subjects in a new code that is now accepted worldwide. This judgment established a new standard of ethical medical behavior for the post World War II human rights era.
The Nuremburg Code
The UK government has ethical standards for all sectors of government across the whole of public life.
My first steps to addressing the ethical concerns of my project are:
– to seek permission from my Course Leader to undertake this research as part of the Course work I undertake for the MA
– to brief and ask permission from other project partners, the other MA Course Leader, and the project initiators from outside the College.
– then I will brief the students about what I am doing, and ask for in principle agreement to participate in the research that I will devise as part of their work
Once those things are determined I’ll be able to fill in the ethics forms and submit for approval.
Responding to the following reference, I will ask myself:
– will this project be worthwhile?
– who will benefit from it?
– what are the potential risks for the participants?
– what are our roles and responsibilities as researchers?
– who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for?
Ethical reflexivity is a core feature of qualitative research practice as ethical questions may arise in every phase of the research process (VON UNGER, 2016). For example, researchers ask themselves: will this project be worthwhile? Who will benefit from it? What are the potential risks for the participants? What are our roles and responsibilities as researchers? Who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for? Some of these questions have already been the focus of the FQS debate on ethics (see link above). These questions do not generally have easy answers, as ethics are intertwined with (university, state, field) politics in many ways (ROTH, 2004b) and remain open to re-interpretation and debate in fundamental ways.
Methodology: an over-arching approach to research, strategy (war) Method: a tool used to answer your research question and or collect data (battle)
I’m really pleased to be working with Adam, a knitwear designer and practitioner based in Paris, and Glen, a theatre designer based at Wimbledon in our re-configured group.
We were assigned to research the Narrative enquiry methodology from the following list:
Practise based research Narrative enquiry
All the groups researched their own topic and posted the three most salient points from available books and online searches on a Padlet page. It was really useful to promote discussion in an informal manner, being able to consult books and online research to create knowledge collaboratively, and such an elegant place to collate the results.
We found the reference FQS Qualitative social research website very useful.
Having heard feedback from the groups and read their summaries, I thought that practice based research and possibly auto-ethnography would be relevant methodological approaches to investigate my question. Why would I choose these approaches?
“the justification for the choice of any specific strategy must depend on having a clear vision of the particular purpose for which it is being used. Unless we know what the research is trying to achieve it is impossible to judge whether it is likely to be useful or appropriate.”
(Denscombe, 2010, p5)
I anticipate that Lorraine and Julia’s descriptions of Practice based research dovetails into my question, in particular:
“Understanding different practices using one’s own practice to contrast and compare”, and “Knowledge transfer between different fields within an academic research framework” – and in a way the description of practice based research IS also what it is for.
Drawing and Visualisation
I am assuming that video can be part of this method, though Sharon, Nicola, Nicolas had this as a question in their summary.
Our cohort will be collaborating with another MA course, and utilising texts from both arenas, I can seek out nodes of similarity or spaces of difference. Perhaps moiré is a visualisation of what might happen where two patterns / fields are overlaid but have a different angle / disjunction.
As I was thinking about the narrative threads in the storylines of both practices and where they intersect, a shared node. If the 2D linear structure of storytelling in film and the curvilinear structure of VR 3D were transparent patterns overlaid with each other – a Moire pattern a third unpredictable pattern may emerge. As I was thinking about this in my kitchen my colander and sunlight gave me the perfect illustration of shape moire.. in the analogue world line moire occurs when two grids intersect, though there are many instances of moire in the digital world too. Here’s a reference that describes the many instances of moiré .
As I’m thinking of geometry I think about clothing and Adam’s work in knitwear. I love the Missoni 50s Italian zig zag patterns and these patterns have then to become dimensional in their design when worn. Perhaps we can discuss these kinds of thoughts. He mentioned a text The Ecological University: A Feasible Utopia Ronald Barnett, Routledge as an inspirational reference.
See the link to the video I recorded.
I don’t know if this moiré metaphor will hold on the road of research but as an example of imaging the idea I am considering it to be visual research.
Auto-ethnography would also be a useful way to approach the subject in order to track my own learning and record the evolution of this experimental work by the two student cohorts. At the same time it would encompass the reflection requirement of the study.
“it is about being both outward and inward looking on the part of the researcher”. Definition researched by: Yi, Max, Beth and Stella.
Methods: Interviews are a staple method of enquiry for documentary film, but I’m not investigating that directly in my question, though it might be an obvious way to collect data from students involved in the collaborative project.
Bernard, S. C. (2011) Documentary Storytelling: Creative non-fiction on screen (3rd ed.) Amsterdam : Focal Press.
Bucher, J. (2018) Storytelling for Virtual Reality: Methods and principles of crafting immersive narratives. New York: NY & Abingdon : Oxon : Routledge.
Using these texts from the two disciplines, I’ll attempt to find junctions and interstices between the theory on narrative in two fields with the goal of examining the impact of 360 degree filmmaking on documentary narrative.
Non-fiction film started at the genesis of filmmaking, and although Virtual Reality (VR) in this current incarnation is very new, forays into 3D are almost as old of film:
3D technology can be drawn the way back to the start of photography. A new invention by David Brewster in 1844, Stereoscope could take 3D photographic images. At the Great Exhibition in 1851, a picture of Queen Victoria taken by Louis Jules Duboscq, using the improved technology became very well known throughout the world. Soon, the craze for stereoscopic cameras caught on and these were quite commonly used by World War II.
In 1922 the first public 3D movie, “The Power of Love”, was produced and it was in 1935 that the first 3D Color movie was produced. Visionnw
I’ll look at 360degree films in a collaborative project between MA Documentary Film, MA Virtual Reality and the Independent Film Trust (IFT), Coldharbour, the aim being to produce up to 10 VR films to be created for an exhibition in London.
My particular focus will be on the way non-fiction storytelling is affected by working in 360 degrees in Virtual Reality.
There are many challenges and variables; the foremost being that the student workshops have not yet started. MA DF has a new Course Leader, MA VR is in its first year and this is the first collaboration with the IFT, although I know their Operations Manager as a Visiting Speaker on Investigative Journalism. The two courses have signed expressions of interest with the IFT, they have applied for and received funding, students have been briefed, and now the teaching and experimentation will soon start, all being well. 360 degree filmmaking is new to me too, and it will be still a while before it becomes a mainstream medium.
As Bucher (2018) notes – “Experimentation is key to moving the medium forward”.
Bucher, J. (2018) Storytelling for Virtual Reality: Methods and principles of crafting immersive narratives. New York: NY & Abingdon : Oxon : Routledge.
Visionnw (no date) The History of 3D Technology. Available at: http://www.visionnw.com/history-of-3d-technology.htm (Accessed: 30 Jan 2019).
Noble and Bestley (2005) The Research Process , p.47
21 January 2019:
Looking at one of my two possible questions in our group of three, asking “why” five times was a good way to drill down into the essential “problem” or idea, using the 5 Whys a method developed by Sakichi Toyoda founder of Toyota Industries, in the 1930s.
Three questions analyzed by each of the group.
Later in the day, the concept mapping exercise revealed to me where my first possible question was leading me, was to becoming involved in information technology architecture issues (which although the content itself is so important and engaging), that particular part of the endeavour is not my field of expertise.
So the second question revealed itself as my choice: what is the effect of 360 degree filmmaking on documentary storytelling?
Although I understand the terminology in research language of “problem”, I’m not enamoured with the presenting this exploration as a problem. I would rather avoid the intrinsic negative bias in the word. Noble and Bestly’s diagram for me reads:
I don’t know yet if my research will solve anything, though I am concerned that the research is useful. The outcomes may be inconclusive, may not be reproducible or ‘solve a problem’. Even in STEM subjects research where a proof of scientific investigation is reproducibility, there is no guarantee of that, according to the BBC from two years ago (Felden, 2017):
Science is facing a “reproducibility crisis” where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, research suggests.
Keeping in mind that this is a “small scale enquiry” I will have to focus it carefully, but as Rabiger, renown documentarian and academic (2006, p.166) notes:
“.. the challenge will always be the same: to figure out what story to tell, and what point of view to take.”
I will review the learning outcomes from the brief as I proceed: Learning outcomes –
identify a topic of enquiry (ANALYSIS)
Justify the professional significance – what is the contextual area
Investigate methods of enquiry
What’s the best method to use? – or choose A METHOD and test it
There are protocols, things you are expected to do. Is it right for UAL, could I do something differently, I could see something, respond to it, reject it
(EXPERIMENTATION) – Scholarly enquiry(RESEARCH), ethical, documentation, scholarlyreferences, robust, can be shared. Not expected to do primary research, we can if choose. You can do a review of (secondary) literature, a proposal can be the outcomes. It can be scaled up. Show your process
Present project findings in a coherent and context-sensitive manner (COMMUNICATION AND PRESENTATION) (like object based learning but there has to be evidence of research).
Feilden, T. ( 2017) Most scientists ‘can’t replicate studies by their peers’. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39054778 (Accessed 2 Feb 2019).
Mindtools (no date) 5 Whys Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly.
Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm (Accessed 22 Jan 2019).
Rabiger, M. (2006) Developing Story Ideas: Find the ideas you haven’t yet had Burlington, MA : Focal Press.
On occasion, to do with the nature of being a part time Associate Lecturer my freelance work clashes with my academic commitments and I was unable to make it to the presentations on 2 July, having advised advised my tutor.
The presentations were discussion on the Self Initiated Project (SiP) with peers either having completed it, or presenting ideas in development – and also, I believe, an opportunity to exchange ideas for future research/development,
I’ll be undertaking my SiP next January so as it’s quite some distance off I want to consider carefully what my project will be.
I enjoyed working on the two minute presentation exercise I prepared in our small tutorial group on how walking affects creativity as part of a wider interest in creativity and collaborative practice. I also have a long standing interest in the applications of technology into documentary practice and a desire to keep up with developments in newer technologies such as Virtual Reality, 360 imagery and Augmented Reality presentations. One of our alumna works for the Guardian making VR videos and we’ve invited her in to speak with our students in the last two years. We didn’t have any sessions in the MA programme then on VR (it was still in its infancy), but she got the job on the strength of her graduation film project. Storytelling remains the core skill to be developed for our students, but the intersections between non-fiction filmmaking and technology is most interesting. How do new technologies change the way the story is told?
I’ve also recently been approached by one of our visiting lecturers about a collaborative project with her organisation, The Independent Film Trust, and Raindance Film organisation to involve our students and the students of the new MA VR course in a VR community history project in Brixton. I’m hoping to develop that as an elective in our Collaborative Unit, but it depends on backing by the CL, and the hours that might be available to me to develop it.
As part of my professional development I applied to and was successful in receiving funding, and so was able to attend iDocs symposium in Bristol in March. Most recently I attended Sheffield Doc Fest in June, one of the premiere international documentary festivals with a dedicated section on new technologies – though our students attend there was no departmental funding for it.
Being fortunate enough to able to attend both iDocs symposium and Sheffield Doc Fest this year (which also had a great array of VR / AR and interactive projects this year) gave me a rich resource on which I can draw for my self initiated project.
I also work on developing an interactive ethics tool with the Associate Dean of Research, so that could be a rewarding exploration for my Self Initiated project also. The Ethics of Making
My notes on the chapter I shared for our reading are attached here below as a possible resource for my SiP.
Anna (Rhodes) posed two questions in our shared Google doc – I found this an interesting question:
How should we teach art and design history and context in this post digital era of content overload and digital creative outlets on social media?
I might be able to respond in part, after seeing Mark Cousins give a presentation at Sheffield DocFest. It was a kind of performance lecture. It was in the dark which gave primacy to the screen and created a black space around it, and his voice provided context- he had a radio mic on and had a laser pointer – it was called ’30 Images in the Dark’. Most images he projected were single frames, against the dark space – so their presentation was clear of distraction, they were to be regarded one by one, or at most, compared to one other image. And because they were regarded this way we had time to think about each. So masses of images can’t be read or responded to in the same way without time or context.
It’s interesting to note that Anna’s instagram referencebank presents its image in the same way, – they have a (white) border, and mostly some discussion in text with each one, and responses from people to each (which ’30 Images in the Dark’ didn’t feature). Yet to regard them singly, they don’t fill the frame, they hover above the grid of other images – they are always there, more images.
There are side effects of seeing too many images – discussed in this article by Rebecca MacMillan, a researcher and teacher in Texas revealed her students to be “feeling overrun by photographs and addicted to posting images” and quotes experts on the effects including: “heightened anxiety to memory impairment”, “the idea that photographing may discourage remembering”, “fragmented focus” – but then she notes that in further research there’s an indication that:
“However, a second study found that if a student took the time to zoom in on an object, their memory was not impaired – an indication that increased attention and cognitive engagement can counteract this effect.”
However, the deleterious effects of the pressures of using images in social media to construct a public persona in a competition for attention, and addiction to media is a huge subject – which I can only acknowledge and refer to now.
But if as the second study suggests, taking time and ‘zooming in’ – that is, concentrating and observing, improves memory, then active looking must go a way toward being the antidote.
‘Join the acclaimed filmmaker for an intimate lecture exploring the aesthetics and emotion of ‘looking’. Using 30 key cultural images, Mark will examine how our ‘looking selves’ develop and how our social and cultural surroundings shape what we see.’
‘….and acclaimed Edinburgh-based filmmaker, author and criticMark Cousinswill examine how our ‘looking selves’ develop over the course of a lifetime, the ways that looking has changed through the centuries and explore how our social and cultural surroundings shape what we see.’
Cousins opened the talk by saying that that day he’d seen a middle aged woman clutching a teddy bear in the street – and that he’d never seen that before. It shows he interrogates his own internal database of images in his mind, (or references to them) on a regular basis, as he knows he’s never seen this scene before. And it shows that he can remember images and scenes.
Furthermore, he broke down the elements of looking (for a screen based medium) into areas listed below – and gave pertinent, new and sometimes unexpected examples to illustrate these, eg in ‘form’ he juxtaposed a Henry Moore sculpture and the mask of Darth Vader. We can all potentially make those connections, if we are active ‘lookers’ because of the wealth of images that surround us, but because of his age, I know that it’s highly likely that the original images of those two images he saw first, was in the analogue era. Perhaps because my sense of looking (rather than seeing) was also formed in the analogue era, I have a strong sense that my personal database of images that I have seen, informs everything I see, sometimes consciously but mostly sub-consciously. I’ve probably had more time to really look at something than is now difficult to do, in the Western digital age, unless one has a rigorous conscious reason and related action not to engage with the flow of images that surrounds us through our screens.
Neurologically, I (subjectively) believe that we record everything we see, and that memory is only a faulty retriever from a lifetime’s perfect database of vision, and I should corroborate this in science I know, – but truly, how is it possible to believe otherwise? There are those few who have a neurological singularity – Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), and remember everything, from very early on in life. I don’t know how they can live – the burden of total recall must be enormously tiring. Thank evolution for the ability to forget the vast majority of the visual flow of the world before us and to be able to discriminate and focus on selected events. If memory is in good working order.
I believe that this is the crux of Cousins’ thinking: that even in the deluge of imagery we can see things we’ve never seen before. And if we can see it in the real world, we can photograph it through a lens, or create it on a screen. So in considering teaching of images perhaps we have to add axes of volume and time to an active and conscious act of looking. And add also the sense of a kind of visual pollution, and device addiction, that are now parts of looking we didn’t have before the digital age, and yet the thirst for narrative and images is still driving us as it ever did, but faster, toward – what? A crash? Blindness? An inability to concentrate? A blurring between the real and the created world (particularly in immersive gaming or VR / AR / 360 imagery?)
Though as David Hockney noted (among many others) whoever controls the media controls us, but photographic images – which are inherently unreliable – are only one way of seeing the world.
“Photography, with its claim to truth, is a discipline, he thinks, and he’s glad digital technology is ending the rule of the one-eyed monster that never lied. “I suppose I never thought the world looked like photographs, really. A lot of people think it does but it’s just one little way of seeing it. All religions are about social control. The church, when it had social control, commissioned paintings, which were made using lenses” – as Hockney has argued in his book Secret Knowledge – “and when it stopped commissioning images, its power declined, slowly. Social control today is in the media – and based on photography. The continuum is the mirrors and lenses.”
Perhaps there might arise a group of visual refuseniks who will resist the volume of digital images and look at things one by one, in their own time, until they’ve had enough, until they’re part of their memories.
Anyway, back to Mark Cousins’ elements of looking. There were more but I’ve forgotten them. (Yes I’m resisting a ‘smiley’ because I live in the digital era I now think of emoji as necessary to convey a joke, as I never did before.)
– ‘eyes’ ie directing the gaze over different parts of the screen
Mark Cousins is about to publish a book The Story of Looking (4 Oct 2018) which will definitely be worth a read.
For the last two years I’ve designed and delivered a day to our cohort on Indigenous Cinema – this year called Screening Indigeneity, in collaboration with the Artistic Director of the Native Spirit Foundation.
The academic day led into a free evening screening open to the public to encourage informal interaction with the University around this subject.
There is a complex and difficult history around naming groups of peoples arising not only from Western colonial thinking, but anywhere in the world where groups of people in close and historical cultural relation to their land have been rapidly supplanted by others, and where ownership of land shifts due to invasion, or other catastrophes.
So why describe people as Indigenous at all? There is no one general term that everyone agrees to, but looking at the issue globally, nationally and locally may help.
On a global level “Indigenous” describes peoples internationally with the same kind of relationship to their land, and to a majority culture, with whom they share common concerns. Human rights organisations use it eg World Resources Institute reports “Landmark, the first online, interactive global platform to map lands collectively held and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities” helps collectively in lands rights activism and environmental battles, IWGIA uses “indigenous”, Amnesty International Indigenous peoples. The UN, after around 25years work with peoples around the world adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
Be aware that some, if not many, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are dissatisfied with the term ‘Indigenous’.
yet elsewhere in the country more recently “Indigneous Australians” is growing in acceptance. What is acceptable changes over time and within different communities. Also some language is encoded in law by the majority culture, so that embeds words into the culture that do not respond to cultural shifts over time.
For instance, in India there are over 700 groups of First Peoples, many of whom are not recognised in the Constitution, so they are excluded from contesting rights to land claims and crucially on state recognised identity i.e. they are disappeared legally. Some refer to Indigenous peoples as adivāsi, others within India are opposed to this word, and it also means different things within the country. Those Indigenous peoples who are recognised by the state are legally called “Scheduled Tribes” and in a further complication, according to IWGIA:
“India voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the condition that after independence all Indians are indigenous. Therefore, it does not consider the concept of “indigenous peoples”, and therefore the UNDRIP, applicable to India.”
“If the community uses its ancestral name then use it rather than the Anglicized version.”
People have a right to be named as they wish to be identified.
Article 13 ofThe United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) recognises:
“Article 13 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons”
Here’s the schedule of the day below, and the programme of the evening screenings with information on the filmmakers attached.
I’d like to thank Tweed the Artistic Director and curator of the Native Spirit Foundation film for all her input and hard work – she has put together a fantastic programme for this evening from 5 – 8pm (it is open to the public and invitees) and Tweed also put me in touch with our visiting speakers this afternoon from Lista Calista Films, Mixtec Mexican filmmakers Armando Bautista Garcia & Itandehui Jansen andalso organised the Q&A with Trevor Carroll this evening.
WHY are we screening Indigneity?
According to the UN ”Indigenous peoples account for most of the world’s cultural diversity. “Throughout the world there are approximately 370 million indigenous peoples occupying 20per cent of the earth’s territory. It is also estimate that they represent as many as 5,000 different indigenous cultures” and in evolutionary terms, diversity is the key to survival. Indigenous Australia is the oldest living continuous culture so I believe there’s a lot to learn from people who have survived and thrived in a hostile natural environment and survived hostile man made environments like invasion and genocide.
Indigenous people bear the brunt of the environmental battles against corporations and governments on all our behalves, we all rely on the continued existence of natural environments like the Amazon, that support life.
You could see it as an effort to decolonise our curriculum. You may have heard of the row that erupted last year in Oct. around the Cambridge University English faculty when students asked if they could examine ways of decolonisation by incorporating more black and minority ethnic voices into their reading list – “new ways of seeing the canon”.. The Telegraph wrote a misleading article about it and the young woman who wrote the open letter became the subject of a hate campaign on social media. It’s quite sobering to see how little you have to do to rock the boat of the status quo to see the backlash rising up.
Or you could see Screening Indigeneity as a way of responding to the University’s commitment to upholding the Equality Act2010.
For me, its an ongoing interrogation as a white Australian from a refugee family, now a migrant to the colonising nation, to examine our terrible history and examining the ongoing repercussions of colonialism on all survivors.
As filmmakers we know the power and responsibility of representation, and the opportunity to represent yourself and tell your own story is being illustrated by the rise of Indigenous media being made all over the world.
And as filmmakers it’s important to know how to approach the bridging between the self and others, to work out our relationships to each other together. Ken Kirby, Course Leader will introduce his work with different Indigenous peoples, and introduce his guest James Wilson, a director of Survival International, the movement for tribal peoples, and I’m delighted too that our student Carlo Lavarini is able to share with us how he approached volunteering with a Cree Community school and how he is working out his relationships together. And I’m really grateful too to Dr Pratap Rughani the Associate Dean of Research, for joining us this morning who will be conducting a short workshop with you.
Also, as filmmakers, it’s a rare chance to see and celebrate the incredible creativity of Indigenous filmmakers. Many are using filmmaking for their own audiences as a means of education, for preserving culture or for entertainment, for political protest and some like Karrabing Film Collective from Australia are turning the lens back on the colonizers and also making media for their own purposes.
Before we start it may help to look at a definition by the UN on Who are indigenous peoples?
“It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants – according to a common definition – of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, occupation, settlement or other means.”
I chose to concentrate on Jon Nixon’s ‘The Place of Pedagogy’ text. Within it a fascinating and well worth reading analysis of the work of philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.
In a discussion group with Stella, Kuldeep and Lucy and I talked about the text – and then we looked at the old (existing) UAL marking matrix. Using the new matrix of three criterion, we first assessed it then we had to mark ourselves using it, on our discussion – a surprisingly difficult exercise which drew up complex and interesting issues. We were somewhat hampered because we didn’t finish our analysis before we had to use the matrix but you could see enough of the function to engage with the issues.
It’s quite a different exercise assessing each other as peers verbally in real time, as opposed to asynchronously marking a student work as a tutor, having time to consider a written response …
And as the HEA Feedback toolkit (2013) indicates, (see below), ‘verbal feedback provided in a group meeting’ is the least popular way that students want to receive feedback. Of course there’s a variety of ways that feedback can be given, but I found it interesting to note that in the face to face environment I didn’t want to give too critical a response to my peers. I know I learn better in an encouraging and open atmosphere and I want to be sensitive to each person. It is a given in formal education that we need some critique to improve, but as learning styles are not the same in any group, to name but one factor in the assessment debate – how can we encourage real thinking and development in our students, and not just meet standards manufactured to meet the needs of a University business model? How can one student be “better” than another? Surely each improves / or doesn’t against themselves – or even less oppositionally – in a continuum, instead of in competition to others?
The dynamic of our four was interesting as we three students had our tutor with us who understandably took a step back to allow us free discussion – but would then contribute in a timely way; I found it was really useful. The personalities of our group made it for a rich and lively organic discussion, typically as a pattern of one person contributing the other responding or contesting and I felt I had to interrupt that conversation to be able to contribute my opinion and relate our discussion to the text. Assessing one’s self as part of the exercise is very much a worthwhile task encouraging honest reflection upon one’s own effort – which perhaps should be part of an education where students are encouraged to become their own educators, responsible for their own creative thinking and analysis as part of their own ongoing process. I’d very much like to introduce student input into the assessment process and one of our colleagues described how she does that – I made contact to follow up on that.
I got a lot from the two minute presentation task. I decided to prepare for it as I know the important parts of what I want to transmit may not get said – I tend to go off track.
So when the question was posed to us before delivering our presentations, ‘what makes a good speaker’, I was glad I had prepared. Unless you are very practised and confident speaker that’s one of the things that makes a good speech – it is prepared.
I talked about walking and why it’s important for humans physically but also mentally – in particular for creative thinking and problem solving. In preparation I started it at over 5minutes and then pared it down to under two minutes; that paring down was the important part of the exercise for me – the focus on what was important, what was the real message I needed to say? It seemed to work – my audience of two applauded and gave me positive feedback and unexpected suggestions – they found certain ideas that I thought were not that crucial, the most interesting for a (putative) future follow up.
2 minute talk to the tutorial group.
WALKING as an aid to creative thinking
Walking is simple yet powerful
AS A SPECIES we have been walking for a very long time: (British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey identified marks of bipedalism dating back 3.7 million years in Tanzania) it conferred evolutionary advantages on early hominids in that they could see further and range further
The more “civilized” we became the more sedentary and physical activities in western societies were more and more divorced from the body
Contemporary science has identified walking is good for you “moderate exercise — typically walking for 30 minutes three times a week — produced a 26% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease and a 20% reduction in the overall death rate”.
Two Stanford psychologists’ 2014 report concluded that “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity.”
Walking can be many things – an act of pilgrimage, art, or politics
For instance, on 27 August 1981, the 36 women and children whowalked from Cardiff to Greenham Common (around 97miles) andafter they stopped walking, established an anti-nuclear armamentspeace camp for 19 years – an important event in the history of thepeace movement around the world.
So although walking is a simple act open to all who can walk, it is a powerful act that encourages creative thinking, problem solving and health.