Young People, Creativity and New Technologies: The Challenge of Digital Arts 0415203120

What is the creative potential of the new technologies? How can computers create new possibilities for artistic and crea

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Young People, Creativity and New Technologies: The Challenge of Digital Arts

Table of contents :
Book Cover......Page 1
Title......Page 4
Contents......Page 5
List of figures......Page 8
List of plates......Page 10
Notes on contributors......Page 12
Foreword......Page 15
Acknowledgements......Page 16
Multimedia literacies: developing the creative uses of new technology with young people JULIAN SEFTON-GREEN AND VIVIENNE REISS......Page 18
The Moving Picture Science Show: working with multimedia in the classroom VIVI LACHS......Page 29
The Rosendale Odyssey: multimedia memoirs and digital journeys REBECCA SINKER......Page 39
A digital big breakfast: the Glebe School Project AVRIL LOVELESS......Page 49
PhotoWork: a case study in educational publishing for and by young people JO BOOTH......Page 59
The NEMA experience IRENE ORDIDGE......Page 74
Roath Village Web: the Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook SUE WILLIAMS......Page 87
Translocations: from media to multimedia education ANDREW JONES......Page 108
'What makes you switch on?': young people, the Internet and cultural participation ROZ HALL AND DARKEN NEWBURY......Page 125
Web publishing by young people CHRIS ABBOTT......Page 136
Teaching online: issues and problems HELEN CUNNINGHAM AND MIRIAM RIVETT......Page 147
From hardware to software: the resource problem? JULIAN SEFTON-GREEN......Page 163
A framework for digital arts and the curriculum JULIAN SEFTON-GREEN......Page 171
Index......Page 180

Citation preview

Young People, Creativity and New Technologies

This book describes how Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) may be creating new possibilities for creative work both within the formal curriculum and in complementary educational sites. Written by experienced practitioners in the field, this book provides a series of case studies documenting the use of ‘digital arts’ across the school and community arts curriculum. It demonstrates how ICTs can be used in a genuinely inter-disciplinary way, and also recognises that good practice is developing slowly through some genuinely innovative work in schools. The book is aimed at those teachers, curriculum co-ordinators, teachertrainers, community artists and educationalists who are interested in practical ways to develop the creative uses of new technologies at school and in community arts settings. It will be of interest to whole-school IT policy makers as well as subject specialist Media Arts teachers and practitioners who want to introduce ICTs into their teaching and work with young people. Julian Sefton-Green is the Media Education Development Officer at Weekend Arts College (InterChange Trust). His previous publications include Cultural Studies Goes to School with David Buckingham (Taylor and Francis, 1994) and Digital Diversions (UCL Press, 1998).

Young People, Creativity and New Technologies

The challenge of digital arts

Edited by Julian Sefton-Green Foreword by David Puttnam

London and New York

First published 1999 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2002. Routledge Ltd is a Taylor & Francis Group company © 1999 selection and editorial matter Julian Sefton-Green, individual chapters © 1999 the contributors All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data Young People, Creativity and New Technologies/edited by Julian Sefton-Green p. cm. Includes bibliographic references and index. 1. Arts-Study and teaching (Elementary)—United States— Computer-assisted instruction—Case studies. 2. Arts—Study and teaching (Elementary)—United States— Interactive multimedia—Case studies. 3. Interdisciplinary approach in education—United States— Case studies. I. Sefton-Green, Julian. LB1591.5.U6C53 1999 372.5’044–dc21 98–44980 ISBN ISBN ISBN ISBN

0-415-20312-0 (hbk) 0-415-20313-9 (pbk) 0-203-07081-X Master e-book ISBN 0-203-21563-X (Glassbook Format)


List of figures List of plates Notes on contributors Foreword Acknowledgements 1 Multimedia literacies: developing the creative uses of new technology with young people

vii ix xi xiv xv 1


2 The Moving Picture Science Show: working with multimedia in the classroom



3 The Rosendale Odyssey: multimedia memoirs and digital journeys



4 A digital big breakfast: the Glebe School Project



5 PhotoWork: a case study in educational publishing for and by young people 42 JO BOOTH

6 The NEMA experience IRENE ORDIDGE




7 Roath Village Web: the Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook



8 Translocations: from media to multimedia education



9 ‘What makes you switch on?’: young people, the Internet and cultural participation 100 ROZ HALL AND DARKEN NEWBURY

10 Web publishing by young people



11 Teaching online: issues and problems



12 From hardware to software: the resource problem?



13 A framework for digital arts and the curriculum






In addition to the pictures reproduced in this book all the illustrations for the book, including complete online and hypertext publications as described by the contributors, are available on a complementar y web site ( 2.1 2.2 2.3 5.1 5.2 5.3a, b 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8a, b, c 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 8.1 8.2 8.3

Plan of moon project Screen shot from ‘Animals in Action’ project Screen shot of Toco Toucan Advert for Kodak film Picture from ‘outside the frame’ activity Images to illustrate lighting Picture of light game from CD-ROM Children posing Example of newspaper work—‘Money makers’ Children’s own work ‘decorating’ a bus Photographs taken by the children at home NEMA entries by age group Graphic from Harry Morgan Graphic: The Grumpy Spider The Boar of Erymanthus Attack of the Blobs The navigation bar Screen shot: meet Class 3 Screen shot: our memories Screen shot: Charlotte’s page Screen shots showing Mr Evans’ progress ‘Spot the likeness’ page org1623/ ULO image Patricia’s home page Web-site planners and Statements of Intent

16 19 20 45 46 47 48 48 49 51 52–3 61 64 65 66 67 75 76 77 78 78 79 79 90 91 92



8.4a, b, c 8.5 9.1 9.2 9.3 11.1 11.2a, b, c 11.3a, b, c 11.4a, b, c

Simone’s web-site plans Simone’s home page Image from web page: pop music Image from web page: coins Image from web page: identity Diagram of ideal teaching space Examples of students’ web sites Examples of students’ sites using text in a ‘traditional’ way Examples of graphics on students’ web sites

93–5 98 104 105 106 125 128–9 130–1 132–3


Plates I–XII are from the Rosendale Odyssey multimedia project. Plate I Plate II Plate III Plate IV Plate V Plate VI Plate VII Plate VIII Plate IX Plate X Plate XI Plate XII

Licinia working with Photoshop Dave Lewis working with a small group Fred sticking down photographs Fiona Bailey working with whole class Mitchell: ‘and it’s snowing’ Tabasom’s welcome page Annabelle explains how digital arts work Adil compares himself and his father Eliot’s page Alex uses drawings and photographs Mark’s page mixing photographs and drawing Yudhistra’s page

Plates XIII–XVI are from the Glebe Big Breakfast project Plate XIII Plate XIV Plate XV Plate XVI

Asleep Poster advertising a healthy breakfast Poster advertising a healthy breakfast Poster advertising a healthy breakfast


Chris Abbott is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Education, King’s College, London. He teaches on the PGCE and Masters courses at King’s and specialises in the area of IT and Literacy. He was previously Director of the Inner London Educational Computing Centre. He has written widely on aspects of information technology for the Times Educational Supplement and other publications. Jo Booth was an Arts Council Advanced Trainee in Gallery and MuseumBased Photography Education and is now an Education Officer at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. She has taught photography in a number of schools and community centres around the South East of England. Helen Cunningham is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Middlesex University, UK, where she specialises in teaching about youth culture, media audiences and new media technologies. Roz Hall is a Research Fellow at the University of Central England in Birmingham as part of a teacher development post funded by the Arts Council in collaboration with Jubilee Arts in Sandwell. Prior to taking up this post she worked at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol developing and initiating community-based projects using chemical and digital photography. Andrew Jones teaches at St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, North Kensington, London. He has previously written on culture, gender and TV. Vivi Lachs is an Advisory Teacher for ICT in the London Borough of Hackney. She has worked in Hackney for thirteen years first as a drama teacher and then as a support teacher for statemented pupils. For the last four years she has been developing cross-curricular multimedia work. In 1997 she received a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship for



Information Technology in the Understanding of Science. She writes on multimedia for the Times Educational Supplement. Avril Loveless is a Senior Lecturer in IT in Education at the University of Brighton. She has been involved in a number of projects investigating the development of visual literacy and the digital arts in primary classrooms. Her particular interest is the professional development of teachers in the use of IT for teaching and learning. Darren Newbury is Research Co-ordinator at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, University of Central England. He has researched and published in the area of photographic education. Further areas of research interest include photography, visual research methods and research in art and design. Irene Ordidge worked as an Education Officer, with responsibility for initial teacher education, at the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA). She has managed a number of projects including the National Educational Multimedia Awards (NEMA), the BECTA corporate web site and was involved in creating the prototype Virtual Teacher Centre for the DfEE. Vivienne Reiss is a Senior Visual Arts Officer at the Arts Council of England. Her current position involves developing a national visual arts education strategy and she is responsible for establishing a series of initiatives around young people’s creative uses of digital technologies. Previously she worked as exhibitions and education co-ordinator at Camerawork Gallery and Darkrooms, and in community arts at Blackfriars Photography Project in London. Miriam Rivett is a Lecturer in Writing and Publishing Studies at Middlesex University, UK, where she specialises in teaching about editing, genre and new media technologies. Julian Sefton-Green is the Media Education Development Officer at Weekend Arts College (InterChange Trust) where he directs a range of digital media activities for young people. He has taught in secondary and higher education and has researched and written widely on many aspects of media education and new technologies. His latest book is Digital Diversions (UCL Press, 1998). Rebecca Sinker is currently Research Fellow in Digital Arts Education at Middlesex University with the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA). She previously held an Arts Council Teacher Development Post



developing photography and media education in the curriculum. She has also worked as a photographer in community arts and as a photographic artist making mixed media installations and online digital work. Sue Williams is Creative Dir ector of HyperAction (http:// an educational arts organisation dedicated to exploring the potential of new communications technology in creative contexts. She also runs the NeighbourNet Centre, Mountain Ash (http:/ / a community Internet and multimedia centre serving the people of the South Wales valley.


It is impossible to predict accurately the future of learning, and most particularly the huge impact ICT will have, not only on what, but on how we learn. We have a long way to go on our journey through the uncharted territory of the pedagogy of ICT in this age of ever increasing change. Initiated by the Visual Arts Department of the Arts Council of England, this important book takes a first step, detailing some of the research that has been undertaken to date by teachers, artists and arts organisations into the field of new media. I welcome this contribution to a debate which must be taken up by learners, teachers and leaders alike. David Puttnam


This book comes out of a seminar series organised by the Visual Arts Department at the Arts Council of England so my first thanks go to Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton (Director Visual Arts) and Viv Reiss (Education Officer) who facilitated that programme. Thanks also to Trevor Horswood and Lisa Haskel at the Arts Council. Merlin John and Sean Coughlan from the Times Educational Supplement, Fiona Bailey from the Photographers’ Gallery, Gary Stewart from the International Institute of Visual Arts, Jacquie Disney and Maggie Holgate from PIN (Parents Information Network) and Nicola Jones all contributed their time and expertise. Celia Greenwood and the crew at Weekend Arts College supported my work on this book. Around forty people attended the seminars over a four-year period and all of them contributed in some way to the success of the programme. Their enthusiasm and debate helped us all believe we could transform a minority interest into a mainstream area of enquiry. This book is a result of their work. In addition to the pictures reproduced in the book all the illustrations for the book, including complete online and hypertext publications as described by the contributors, are available on a complementar y web site ( Thanks to Stephen O’Hear and Morgan Jones for their work on this.

Chapter 1 Multimedia literacies Developing the creative uses of new technology with young people Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

Why this book?

There is no doubt that we are living through a period of extraordinary anticipation and excitement as the ‘new’ digital technologies begin to impact on the traditional world of education. Indeed, the conjunction of terms, education and information technologies has actually come to stand for a host of interrelated issues. It is frequently claimed, for example, that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) will transform teaching and learning leading to a fundamental shift in the ways schools and universities are organised. Digital technology, especially, in the form of the World Wide Web, has been seen as a technocratic solution for the ‘problem’ of education in that it offers access to all sorts of evidence, experiences, people, writings and visual material from around the world. A host of economic, social policy and curriculum initiatives at party political, national and European levels have all contributed to a millenarian rhetoric to the effect that traditional models of creating and transmitting knowledge are about to change. Some of these claims seem to remain on the level of speculation and advertisers’ hype, whilst others are founded on real change which is already transforming schools and some young people’s lives. Yet, amidst this flurry of visionary optimism, and even in the plethora of literature devoted to debating this topic, the creative opportunities afforded by these technologies have not been sufficiently recognised and developed. The primary purpose of this book is to argue for and describe ways in which ICTs may be creating new possibilities for artistic and creative work both within the formal curriculum and in complementary educational sites. This collection is not concerned with the ways that technology may be used transparently, as a medium to deliver traditional skills and knowledge, but how it can be used as a new media form in itself. The book sets out to describe the opportunities digital technologies offer for communicating, disseminating and making culture as well as acting as a vehicle for personal and collective self-expression.


Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

This focus draws together several traditions. First of all there has been an increasing recognition that culture is not the sole preserve of formal education. Studies of youth culture (Willis 1990) and media education (Buckingham & SeftonGreen 1994) have emphasised that young people are using both their consumption of the mass media and the production technologies now widely available in the leisure entertainment marketplace, to make, share and enjoy electronically mediated cultural experiences. Whilst these forms of popular culture are often at odds with the canon studied in mainstream school subjects like Art or English, the fact remains that their out-of-school experiences of culture are just as vibrant and meaningful as those studied at school. At the same time, digital technologies are rapidly transforming the processes of cultural production and reception. The technologies have made possible a number of new cultural forms, such as the computer game and the hyper-linked web site. They have also fundamentally changed many existing cultural forms, both on the level of aesthetics and of production practices. For example, ‘sampling’ and MIDI technology are key determining factors in many forms of contemporary popular music; while non-linear editing is central to the aesthetics of pop videos. Similarly, the visual style of contemporary media production, not least in popular media forms such as comics, newsprint, magazines and CD covers, partly reflects the new possibilities offered by digital image manipulation software. Young people are the primary audience and target market for many of these new cultural forms, and for the equipment itself. In addition, the increasing accessibility of these technologies has created significant new opportunities for young people to become cultural producers, rather than mere consumers. Using equipment that is now much more easily available, not just in their own homes or peer groups but also in formal and informal education, young people can participate much more readily in activities such as music production, image manipulation, design, and desktop or web-site publishing. The educational implications of these developments are potentially vast, and extend well beyond the delimited area of ‘information technology’. They indicate the need for an expanded notion of literacy, encompassing the social processes involved in understanding texts (‘reading’ in its broadest sense) and the range of competencies brought to any form of expression, be it painting in oils or conventional domestic photography. Although the term ‘computer’ or ‘IT literacy’ is often used, it usually describes the skills needed to manipulate the computer, whereas the contributors to this book tend to conceptualise literacy in an expanded sense—as multimedia literacies—that is, an ability to work across text, image, sound and moving image with equal fluency, exploiting each dimension separately and making connections between these historically discrete domains. The increased power of home computers now makes it possible to create, manipulate and trade in visual images in ways hitherto denied to most young people (Sefton-Green & Buckingham 1998). In terms of literacy, this increase

Multimedia literacies


can be likened to developing a facility in writing as it allows young people to express themselves and communicate in digital media. In addition, this control over the production and circulation of digital images may reflect a more general trend towards the home as a key site, not only of cultural consumption, but also of cultural production. This then, has an important implication for educationalists: that we need to pay attention to the relationships between young people’s ‘informal’ cultural competencies (as consumers and users of digital multimedia technology in the context of leisure) and the ways in which these competencies might be used and developed in formal schooling, particularly through the ‘creative’ uses of technology in arts subjects. The contributors to this book are concerned with the ways in which young people draw on their ‘informal’ cultural competencies (developed, for example, through making web sites at home) in their work at school; and with how their experiences of the formal curriculum then impacts back on their leisure uses of the technology. However, digital arts practice will never realise its potential beyond being an enclave for the privileged, unless a more varied use of new technologies and curriculum activities are systematically introduced within the formal education system. Whilst new technologies are used in traditional ways, such as for whole-class teaching, the gap between those who have private resources and those who rely on the education system will only widen. These then, are ‘the challenges of digital arts’: to find ways of developing the knowledge about culture and digital production brought from the home to school; to develop a curriculum which offers opportunities to work creatively with multimedia; to make schools better resourced (including people, software and hardware) and to make these resources easily accessible; and, finally, to acknowledge that digital arts are not only a means of exploring other subjects but comprise a subject in their own right. What are digital arts?

In many ways the ‘new’ digital technology builds upon and develops changes both in the arts curriculum and the wider cultural economy for young people. The recent history of photography and media education has shown how young people’s experiences as media consumers and producers outside of schools have gradually been incorporated into the academic curriculum. It is common nowadays for young people to use a range of media arts for creative purposes, making still and moving images, as well as working with sound and text. The computer is now beginning to take a central place in this process—as it is in the broader context of the media industries. Digital technologies may be used in a number of ways for creative purposes within the traditional curriculum areas of English, Art and Media Studies: but also they provide a structure for cross-curricular and thematic teaching at primary level. Arts practice in digital media forms may be stimulated by


Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

the work of avant garde practitioners and offers the opportunity both to develop new forms of culture, such as hypermedia products, and to work with image-based and moving image media in dynamic and exciting ways. Above all the ‘digital media’ offer possibilities to communicate with other individuals and communities across the world thus developing and speaking to audiences and constituencies in hitherto unimaginable ways. These cultural activities are both of intrinsic value in themselves and also offer forms of multi-skilling which are unrivalled kinds of preparation for future employment. However, defining digital arts is not quite as simple as it might seem because of the changing nature of the field. New media artists are working in diverse ways bringing together a range of different arts disciplines such as video, writing, music, photography and dance. These artists are working across the boundaries of conventional arts practice, blurring the distinctions between the arts, bringing them together as new media. As our cultural environment continues to change and there is no longer quite the same division between high art and popular culture, a new aesthetics is developing informed by contemporary graphics, design and the game play of computer games. At its simplest, digital arts refers to work produced in a digital format, and therefore able to be manipulated by a computer. Multimedia, the Internet and broadband networks are the technological platforms for new media production. Artists are also using technology in live performance, installation and virtual environments. The genuine use of multimedia combined with the possibilities of designing involvement and interactivity —key features of digital technology—all affect how art can be imagined, made and received. At a theoretical level, much contemporary work is underpinned by a critical element informed by the independent film, video and photography practice of the late 1970s. Although it is a contested term, it is now suggested that we are living through an era of cyberculture—in which the old certainties of nature have been replaced by the complexities of a fast changing global society and where the boundaries between person and technology become increasingly blurred (Bender & Druckrey 1994: Sardar & Ravetz 1996). Indeed, the actual technologies themselves, for example software ‘architecture’ or the Internet, have become the subject for some artists —and their work explicitly asks questions about the increasingly technologically mediated world we live in. Artists are addressing issues such as social regulation and surveillance, the construction of identity, the boundaries between public and private spaces, how we experience a changing sense of place and how we belong to both local and global communities (Hershman Leeson 1996). Digital arts practice is also having an impact on traditional exhibition spaces, and many gallery and museums have incorporated new work into their programmes. In 1996 in the UK, the ‘Serious Games’ show opened at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle and then went to the Barbican in London. The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the Photographers’ Gallery in London have well-established programmes of multimedia exhibitions and

Multimedia literacies


events, and since 1989 ‘Video Positive’ an international video festival in Liverpool has show-cased digital arts work. Arts technology agencies have been established in different parts of the country to support the development and production of some of this practice. This area of activity is currently being developed in an ad hoc way, in both the public and commercial sectors, in further and higher education and of course by individuals experimenting at home or work (Kelly et al. 1997). The arts funding system has supported many of these initiatives and a number of projects including the International Institute of Visual Arts (InIVA) online (, the Internet arts agency ‘Channel’ (http:// and Mute a quarterly arts technology magazine. Of course digital technology also offers an opportunity to extend the spaces available for exhibition and, like the young people discussed in this book, artists are taking advantage of the new technology to show work outside traditional spaces. Crucially, this means the opportunity to address new audiences and the possibility of reaching individuals and groups hitherto denied access to the arts. In fact, the relationship between artist and audience for some of this practice is integral to the work itself. The audience is encouraged to interact in unconventional ways and become part of an overall production. Work is also being brought together in different kinds of spaces such as in club settings, where DJ’s combine music, visuals, Internet chat links and video conferencing, creating so-called digital ‘jams’. Finally it is important to note that many digital artists are also working in industry alongside hardware and software developers at the forefront of technological developments. They are playing an important role in the development of digital technologies especially in the production of software —designing the interface between user and machine. Here the experience of considering the audience/artist relationship and drawing on a kind of ‘practical aesthetics’ is closing the traditional gap between the ‘job’ of the programmer and the artist. The role of the Arts Council

This book grew out of some of the recent work developed by the visual arts department at the Arts Council of England, which is concerned with artistic and creative work in the formal curriculum and in complementary educational sites. The visual arts department has supported the development of photography and media education since the 1980s. Teacher development posts were established over the last six years, with the aim of initiating community projects, undertaking curriculum development, producing teaching materials and supporting photography and media education within teacher training courses in colleges and universities. In collaboration with independent arts organisations, projects have been set up at a number of key sites in higher education across the country. More recently the Media Arts in Education


Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

Scheme has been established to carry out research into cur riculum development, and to undertake ‘action-based’ research projects in the context of digital arts development, from a broader visual arts base. Chapters 3 and 9 outline some of the work supported by this scheme (for further information see In parallel to the education posts the visual arts department set up a seminar series ‘ Multimedia Literacies ’. These seminars drew together educationalists, artists and researchers from the statutory and voluntary sectors to explore the creative uses of technology with young people. While a focus was the formal curriculum the participants also argued that any work in this area must also address the impact of digital technology on youth culture. There are many examples of the positive ways in which young people are engaging with technology within both formal and informal education sectors and, as this book demonstrates, much innovative work has been developed with young people stimulated by avant garde practice. Current government initiatives pledge support and investment both in education and the cultural industries and there are proposals for further support for the arts and extra-curricular activities from lottery funds. ICTs are clearly going to underpin developments in formal educational curriculum and the establishment of the New Opportunities Fund—as the Lottery’s sixth ‘good cause’ will almost certainly encourage the growth of digital arts (The People’s Lottery 1997). At the time of writing, the statutory curriculum is about to be reviewed and undoubtedly digital technology will be high on the agenda. Emulating Al Gore’s ‘Information Superhighway’, the new Labour Government announced the National Grid for Learning (DfEE 1997) and although the precise nature of public investment in this initiative has yet to be finalised, it seems as if policy and resources will be directed towards opening up the communicative possibilities of digital technology for education. This has immense implications for the delivery of the curriculum from all sort of perspectives, and it seems likely the digital arts will be able to take advantage of the new cultural opportunities opened up by these developments. We hope this book will begin to address this agenda. We believe that not only is there a growing constituency of teachers, artists and educators who are concerned to take full advantage of current social and technological changes, but the current policy context is likely to respond well to these challenges. Recent reports have paid much attention to developing the role of ICTs in education (Stevenson 1996; McKinsey & Company 1997) but the creative possibilities of these technologies has not been sufficiently recognised and developed. To argue this case then may appear to make yet more demands on teachers who, it is frequently noted, lack the confidence and training to take advantage of digital technologies (The RM Report 1998) and are cautious about introducing further change into schools. Indeed, the kind of work with digital technology reported by OFSTED (OFSTED 1997) does not focus

Multimedia literacies


on creative opportunities and the digital arts are frequently overlooked in curriculum debate. However, many contributors to this book argue the case that creative work with new technology delivers core curriculum objectives. Putting arts activities at the heart of young people’s experiences of education may well affect their overall attitude and performance in ways that proponents of information technology do not yet fully comprehend. Concerted effort needs to be given to developing and supporting growth in the area of digital arts and young people. The Arts Council education posts and seminar series attempted to describe and conceptualise issues within this field. While there are many examples of good practice, development is piecemeal and real attention needs to be paid to improving the average quality of digital arts work to ensure a base-line standard for all. This requires addressing a range of questions across schools, curriculum development, policy initiatives, arts practice and research. As we suggested above, there is a shift from the primacy of the printed word in favour of new literacies, but what exactly is the range of literacies required to understand and make new media forms? How can parents, teachers and educationalists be supported to further digital arts with young people? How can the National Curriculum accommodate work which occurs in cross-curricular sites? How will this work be evaluated and assessed? How do we look beyond the classroom and bridge the gap between young people’s experience outside of school and in school? What are the opportunities to involve arts practitioners in schools? What support is required to develop appropriate software for educational use? How can digital arts be resourced in terms of capital equipment to ensure access for all young people? These issues underpin the following chapters. Many of these questions are not new and have been raised in the context of photography and media education. In this context developing digital arts presents the opportunity to invest in young people who will be our creative thinkers and producers of the future. The structure of the book

This book is organised as a series of case studies documenting the use of ‘digital arts’ across the school and community arts curriculum as well as within the lives of young people today. The purpose behind the use of case studies is to provide a depth of evidence about work by young people, mainly in the classroom, which will be of use of other practitioners. Although, by definition, this is an area with few ‘experts’ we have tried to gather together the most experienced educational practitioners in the field. Most of the accounts collected here are written by the same people who devised and taught the work their chapters describe. The book provides descriptions of how ICTs are being used in arts environments but it also


Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

tries to stimulate discussion about the broader educational benefits. Although clear pointers for future work in the area are difficult to come by, most of the authors collected here have a clear sense of how their often early and experimental work may be developed for the future. All the chapters have tried to be as reflexive as possible. They frequently make criticisms of the ways the projects they describe were carried out and, in so doing, raise further questions about the wave of techno-euphoria running through the educational press at this time. The book is very keen to make the case for a genuinely inter-disciplinary use of ICTs in education. At the same time most of the contributors recognise that good practise is developing slowly and in the face of considerable economic odds, especially in schools. At present, digital arts are likely to be developed by enthusiasts within subject specialisms. However, although each project is described in terms of its specific curriculum location, where relevant the chapters do suggest ways of further developing similar work in other teaching and learning contexts. Finally, we felt it important that the collection include descriptions of work undertaken by young people outside of school, in the home and in community arts settings, in order to make the case that ICTs are changing young people’s lives in a variety of ways and that schools need to be kept up to date about what their students might be learning beyond the formal curriculum. Inevitably the work undertaken in primary schools is the most crosscurricular in design. The Rosendale project described by Rebecca Sinker, and the PhotoWork CD-ROM described by Jo Booth set out as arts projects but due to the way that the primary curriculum is organised quickly spread into other ‘subjects’. On the other hand, Vivi Lachs’ account of multimedia authoring started off as a ‘science’ project, but, as she argues, it expanded to fulfil learning objectives across other subjects. All three chapters describe the challenges of working with new technology in inner-city schools. Sue Williams and Avril Loveless take up some of these challenges more specifically. Sue Williams addresses the problem of how to make best use of limited technical resources and Avril Loveless investigates some of longer-term implications of digital arts work and new technology for teacher education. All of these chapters are centrally concerned with questions of teaching and learning. For Booth, Loveless and Sinker developing visual literacy is a key concern whilst Lachs is more concerned with how working in multimedia might help students understand scientific concepts. Booth and Williams take up further challenges posed by digital technology. Both of their chapters are cautiously optimistic of ways in which digital technology might be creating opportunities for children and young people to publish their work for a wider audience, both online and in CD-ROM formats.

Multimedia literacies


The chapter by Irene Ordidge describes the history and process of the National Multimedia Awards scheme run by the government agency responsible for promoting new technology in schools; it was then called NCET, and has been re-launched as BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technolog y Ag ency). T his competition was established primarily to promote and support multimedia work in schools and Ordidge’s account of the process raises a number of questions about the possibilities for creative work with IT in British schools today. Her analysis focuses on the institutional and curriculum constraints hindering the development of multimedia work on a widespread scale in the school system. The chapters dealing with work by older students have a slightly different set of concerns, inevitably relating to the vocational and employment opportunities offered by digital media. The chapter by Chris Abbott draws on recent research into young people’s use of the Internet. His case studies of three unusual young people is immensely suggestive because it shows how some young people are already using home access to the web in imaginative and inventive ways. His research also shows how the new technologies are changing young people’s access to economic and cultural opportunity. This theme is investigated by Roz Hall and Darren Newbury. Their innovative work, with young people who were more socially disadvantaged than those described by Abbott, created the opportunity for young people to learn how to use the web as producers. Together these chapters begin to set an agenda for education about the web. What is more, they show how young people’s out-of-school experiences might relate to curriculum developments in this area. Here, the curriculum needs to be developed in concert with the realities of other ways of learning in informal educational sites. This theme is further explored by Andrew Jones. His account of an exciting project with young people analysed how the web might be used as a means of investigating cultural identity. His chapter also discusses the problem of teaching young people to work with avant garde artists in new media. As some young people are unfamiliar with the fast developing world of digital arts, so they frequently lack a frame of reference. Beginning to express themselves in new ways poses a set of challenges for arts education into the next century. Although Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett’s account of preparing a unit of work for online teaching in higher education may appear not to have much relevance for schools, their chapter raises a number of pedagogical and theoretical questions which will be facing teachers in the compulsory education system in the near future. The National Grid for Learning and the development of a number of virtual teachers’ centres and online resources mean that the web is fast becoming a medium for the delivery of teaching about digital arts. Cunningham and Rivett outline some of the problems they faced in devising appropriate teaching for the web and begin to question


Julian Sefton-Green and Vivienne Reiss

how learners can best make use of the medium in both critical and creative contexts. Chapter 12 by Julian Sefton-Green discusses some of the practical and policy issues of resources. This is raised by all contributors, at a practical level, such as how to organise equipment in the classroom, but also at a more ‘conceptual’ level. Chapter 12 explores some of the pedagogical questions surrounding the use of professional arts production software as opposed to with programs made for children and the home edutainment market and tries to draw together this strand of interest underpinning many of the previous chapters. Sefton-Green’s conclusion perfor ms this synthesising function for all of the case studies and addresses a number of key educational and policy implications for digital arts. As we said earlier, digital arts are not a stable field of enquiry. They represent a fast changing set of practices covering a wide spectrum of social and cultural activities. It is not surprising that schools are taking time to accommodate these changes and to develop strategies to incorporate them into the curriculum. From this point of view, it is clear from the outline of this book that digital arts work with secondary age children is hard to come by. There are a number of reasons for this. In particular the emphasis on traditional subjects and academic disciplines has made it difficult to cross disciplinary boundaries and working creatively with new technologies is not easy to squeeze into an already over-crowded timetable. However, making space for the kind of work described in this book is crucial if digital arts are to play their full role in the education system. Young people are already experiencing a range of digital arts in a number of dynamic ways. They are central to their consumption of the mass media and at the heart of much of their leisure activities. They are also becoming an integral part of the media repertoire which young people use to express themselves and their peer culture. As digital production technologies reach into the home, the school and the college, working in this medium will become second nature to some. We hope that this book will go some way to make sense of, and respond to, these challenges. However, the bigger challenge is to position the creative uses of new technology more centrally in social, economic and educational policy. The existence of this book, written mainly by practising teachers and media arts educationalists, may go some way to support the argument for this development. Note

In addition to the pictures reproduced in the book all the illustrations for the book including complete online and hypertext publications as described by the contributors are available on a complementary web site (

Multimedia literacies


References Bender, G. & Druckrey, T. (eds) (1994) Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology Seattle: Bay Press. Buckingham, D. & Sefton-Green, J. (1994) Cultural Studies Goes to School: Reading and Teaching Popular Culture London: Taylor & Francis. DfEE (1997) National Grid for Learning London: DfEE. Hershman Leeson, L. (ed.) (1996) Clicking In: Hot Links to a Digital Culture Seattle: Bay Press. Kelly, O. Wojdat, E. & Khan, N. (1997) The Creative Bits: The Social Impact of the Arts Using Digital Technology. A Report for the Carnegie UK Trust Stroud: Comedia. OFSTED (1997) Information Technology in English Schools. A Commentary on Inspection Findings 1995–6 London: OFSTED & NCET. McKinsey & Company (1997) The Future of Information Technology in UK Schools London: McKinsey & Company. Sardar, Z. & Ravetz, J. (eds) (1996) Cyberfutures; Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway London: Pluto Press. Sefton-Green, J. & Buckingham, D. (1998) ‘Digital visions: children’s “creative” uses of multimedia technologies’ in Sefton-Green, J. (ed.) Digital Diversions: Youth Culture in the Age of Multimedia London: UCL Press. Stevenson, D. (1996) Information and Communications Technology in UK Schools: An Independent Enquiry London: The Independent ICT in Schools Commission. The People’s Lottery (1997) London: DCMS. The RM Report on the Internet in Secondary School Education (1998) Cambridge: Research Machines. Willis, P. (1990) Common Culture: Symbolic Work at Play in the Everyday Cultures of the Young Buckingham: Open University Press.

Chapter 2 The Moving Picture Science Show Working with multimedia in the classroom Vivi Lachs

Many of the projects described in this book are set in arts-based environments. However, authoring multimedia is not an activity exclusive to arts subjects. Indeed, involving students in the creative uses of technology clearly crosses traditional subject boundaries. It also begs the question as to how students might learn about other kinds of knowledge through the process of making multimedia—how being involved in decisions about representing, say scientific knowledge, being able to animate it and then turn it into narratives might contribute to their understanding of it. This chapter examines such a process by describing primary pupils’ use of multimedia in science. It argues that when we ask students to design and make multimedia packages in other subjects we are making qualitatively different demands on their learning of that subject—that the production process of making multimedia artefacts affects the way they learn about subject content. It also makes the case that authoring projects is not only a multifaceted way of delivering the IT curriculum but an ideal way to organise cross-curricular work.


The Moving Picture Science Show is a CD-ROM of pupils’ multimedia work. It was the culmination of a project called ‘Using Animation to Help Develop Scientific Concepts’ and was made by 165 pupils in sixteen classes in fourteen schools in the London Borough of Hackney over the autumn and spring terms 1996–7. Hackney is an inner-city borough in London with a large mixture of ethnic groups, many languages spoken and a large population of pupils for whom English is not their mother tongue. The CD-ROM shows the final outcome of the work, which is interesting and engaging. What is unseen, however, is the process that went into its creation—which is where the learning took place. This chapter will describe how two of the classes put together their multimedia pieces, and will look at the effect of using animation in science both in terms of motivation and in terms of learning scientific concepts.

Working with multimedia in the classroom


Multimedia is a way of presenting information that uses many different media simultaneously. It can use graphics, text, sound and animation. This project focused on using animation of students’ own drawings, but also used written and voice-over explanations to communicate and develop ideas. The final presentations were interactive, in that other users can navigate their way through the completed piece. This meant that the pupils had to have a clear idea of who their audience might be (i.e. children like them) and how potential readers might use their work. At the same time then as learning the science—the content of the projects—the pupils also learned how to structure a multimedia piece. This involves understanding narratives which were not always linear; building in interactivity, and addressing an audience. In addition they had to become technically proficient in use of an authoring program. I chose to use HyperStudio: it is flexible, reliable, simple to use and able to make quite complicated products in a limited amount time. Setting up the project

This project then, had a number of aims for teachers, the pupils and myself as it brought together a range of different ambitions. The aims for the teachers were: • to experience making multimedia within the science curriculum in a way that was thoughtful and imaginative; • to equip them with the skills needed to repeat the process, both in technical familiarity with the program and in assessing where multimedia and animation could prove a useful tool in learning; • to meet the IT requirements within the National Curriculum, giving pupils the opportunity to reach higher levels of IT capability. The aims for the pupils were: • to develop a fuller understanding of a scientific concept they were learning as part of the curriculum; • to understand the nature of multimedia and HyperStudio and to give them the opportunity to work at higher levels of IT capability; • to be able to pass on their knowledge of the program to other pupils in the class. For my part, as an advisory teacher for IT, I wanted to bring an emphasis to using computers in the curriculum which stresses the creative potential of multimedia to explore curriculum content in ways that extend students’ learning. My background is both as a secondary school drama teacher and as a special needs teacher working with statemented pupils.


Vivi Lachs

There was an initial meeting between myself, the classroom teacher and any other involved teachers to discuss the content of the presentation and the logistics of classroom management. This was followed by basic training for the teachers on HyperStudio, which was new to all of them. In terms of classroom management each of the sixteen classes was structured differently. Some classes had two computers in the classroom and only a small group of pupils took part in the project. Other schools had only two computers but worked with the whole class. Other schools had computer rooms enough for pupils to work in pairs. The content came directly from the science curriculum and was usually the science being studied that ter m. However some classes used the multimedia projects to revise recently completed work (one school used it as an introduction to new work). We decided to focus the projects on the study of dynamic concepts, that is things that change or move. One aim here was to see how HyperStudio’s capacity to make animations (i.e. to represent things moving and changing) would affect the pupils’ understanding of these dynamic concepts. How would this new ability to model and make change, itself affect the way children might learn about concepts that include change. On the other hand, the actual detailed structure of the projects themselves—the plan of each multimedia artefact—was left for the pupils to decide. The sixteen projects covered: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

What materials things are made of, waterproofing (year 3). The nature of things that are alive and that aren’t alive (year 3). Pollution and the effects of ozone layer depletion (year 4). Constructing bridges and towers (year 4). Plant life from seed dispersal to germination to growth and reproduction (years 4/5). A description of the moon, its surface, phases and eclipse (year 5). The nature of light, how shadows are formed and how light moves (years 5/6). Animals in different habitats, how and what they eat, how they move (years 5/6). The water cycle in a pond, a kettle and a freezer (year 6). A description of the sun, its properties, eclipse and dangers due to ozone depletion (year 6). Electricity, what uses electricity, how circuits work and how it is generated (year 6). How to measure using measuring tools and scientific instruments (year 7). The digestive system and blood circulation (year 8). What is an element and the reactions of the periodic table (year 9). How our senses work; sight, sound, touch, taste and smell (year 9).

Working with multimedia in the classroom


• Where woods, metals and plastics come from and how they are used (year 10). I am going to look in more detail at two projects; all of which took place with just two or three computers in busy classrooms: ‘The moon’ and ‘Animals in action’. The moon

A year 5 class in a hut in the playground. The walls are thin, the classroom is small and crowded. There are two computers along opposite walls, which add to the lack of space as pupils are constantly trying to manoeuvre their way past those working at the computers. They were using older Apple Mac computers without CD-ROMs, very little memory and pretty slow. This subject was to be studied by the whole class in the following half term. Four pupils of mixed ability were to make an introductory presentation for the rest of the class. This group looked at the surface of the moon, phases, eclipses and gravity. The pupils worked on the project for one morning a week for five weeks. The rest of the class were having a maths class. The teacher moved between working with the whole class and with the computer groups. The pupils began by looking at the phases of the moon in the first week. They read and discussed in the group of four. They were then shown how to animate using HyperStudio and in pairs they animated how the moon changes through the month, carefully altering the amount of light the moon would shed on a tree in their landscape. The next week the pupils brain-stormed everything they either knew or would like to know about the moon and wrote it up on a large piece of sugar paper. They began to structure these ideas. As they had already made two animated phases of the moon, they put these at the beginning and end and started filling in the rest of their ideas between these two points (see Figure 2.1). The following weeks were spent researching from books, drawing straight on to the computer with the mouse, animating some key concepts like eclipses and orbits, writing explanations of these concepts and adding voice-over commentaries. They were encouraged not to repeat information, but to use each media form to extend their understanding. They would tick off cards on their plan as they completed the information. The planned balance of teaching was weighted towards the class teacher taking on the bulk of computer support while I worked with the rest of the class, and gave technical backup. The pupils at the computers were working on their own for most of the time, but it was a useful forum for the teacher to learn those skills too. Given the close conditions in the classroom it was inevitable that the pupils would demand their teacher’s attention even when


Vivi Lachs

Figure 2.1

Plan of moon project

she was working with the computer group. Typically, just as she left the group, there would be a cry, ‘Oh no, I’ve lost my work!’

Working with multimedia in the classroom


As this work was new to the pupils they researched throughout. There was constant use of books, pupils trying to read text and put it into their own words, or using pictures to show what the surface of the moon looks like, or writing out an explanatory voice-over for an animation. The class teacher was very pleased with this aspect, she maintained that ‘It gave them an incentive to do more research than normally on a topic.’ Drawing with a mouse is a challenge. The pupils did get used to it and enjoyed it but did not find it easy, as they explained: The drawings were hard, especially the lava one and it was hard to make that fat scribble. Yeah, it was grey deep within the rock and orange on the surface. And you had to put it spilling over the grey bit. It weren’t like a proper pencil, the mouse is hard to draw with. The drawings were particularly motivating for the pupils when they knew that they would animate them. Their class teacher saw this as one of the most important learning outcomes because the students needed to know the animation sequence in detail: ‘To do the animation they really had to internalise what they were doing and writing about. The conceptual understanding had to be really there.’ Similarly, the pupils themselves saw animation as a useful way of communicating their ideas. One boy said: ‘If you’ve got it in your book, the teacher will say “so what’s going on here then?”, but on the computer she can see exactly what’s happening.’ In order that the rest of the class could ‘read’, or move through the completed work, most screens had ‘buttons’ to press giving options of places to go. Other screens had pictures without specific direction but clicking the mouse would move the program on. The busy classroom meant that they got continual feedback from other class members, not all called for, but this continuous dialogue did help them focus on their audience. Their teacher felt that this project made it possible for the pupils to be more open to sharing their work and ‘enabled the other children to interact with other children’s work’. The pupils felt that it was the animation that really drew the audience in, as one girl said: ‘People like to see what’s going on. People like to press buttons. People like to just muck about with the buttons to see more animation. It’s like a cartoon, especially children like cartoons.’ When the CD (which included all the multimedia projects from all of the schools) was completed, there was a launch where all of the pupils who participated could come and show off their pieces. I overheard an adult asking this group about their animation of the phases of the moon. The question had been about the practicalities of computer animation, but rather than answering about how they made the animation, one pupil launched into an explanation of the science, ‘Well, when you see a crescent moon in the sky…’.


Vivi Lachs

As the same pupil later said to me about the project: ‘You’re learning science and get to learn to do animations, like learning two things at once.’ Finally, the pupils were extremely motivated throughout the project working through breaks and in their own time. Their enthusiasm was infectious but they understood its value. As one pupil said after the project: ‘It’s not every day someone would get to do that.’ (The moon was subsequently entered for the European Multimedia awards and came fourth (runner up) out of three hundred entries.) Animals in action

This project involved a group of six pupils from years 5 and 6. It was a mixed ability group, with three of the pupils having statements of special educational needs (SEN) for language and learning, and behavioural difficulties. Three teachers were involved in supporting the project—the class teacher and two SEN support teachers. The project ran for one morning a week for six weeks. Due to the nature of the special needs, the computer group needed more support than other projects. The class teacher moved between working with the whole class and the computer group; the support teachers were there for half the morning just working with the computer group: I was there initially to teach the skills, and then to act as technical backup. The pupils were paired up with one statemented pupil in each pair. As one teacher explained: ‘One child with specific learning difficulties had amazing insight and knowledge and aural capacity, but was lost when it came to the writing. It was important that he was paired with a child confident with writing.’ The room was bright and airy and the group were working on three Apple Mac computers at the side of the classroom. The subject was animals in their habitats. In planning, the teachers had chosen three habitats the pupils would look at: a desert, a rainforest and the Hackney Marshes in London. Each pair took one of these habitats, located it on a map, and then found three animal inhabitants. They had to be specific: for example, they couldn’t just chose any monkey, they had to find out that the black spider monkey lived in their specific area of rainforest. Having done this, they investigated the animals’ homes, diets and how they move. The pupils had large sheets of paper to collect the answers. These could be physically placed in sequence to suggest where the cards (screens) in their HyperStudio stack would come. This basic structure allowed the students to alter their plans as more information was brought together. The animals were then drawn by the pupils but they were not allowed to use clip art (see Figure 2.2). This was crucial to their understanding of animal movement and behaviour. It also generated discussion about how the animals should look and this talk contributed to improving the quality and accuracy of the drawings. In drawing the toco toucan, for example, the pupils realised that they didn’t know how many claws a toucan had. They found out from a book

Working with multimedia in the classroom


that it has three but were then left discussing how a toucan would sit on a branch (see Figure 2.3). One of the teachers explained: You can learn a piece of information from a book, but it then needs putting into practice. It’s like reading a recipe is different to doing it in practice, trying it out, finding out how it works. By actually drawing the toucan they could see that there was no way it could have three claws on the front of the branch. It would keel over forward…. It was very rewarding to see SEN children producing text and drawings that were far above any expectations before this project. This process of drawing, designing and animating made it essential for the pupils to talk to each other. It was clear that different pupils had different skills and that pairing the pupils was beneficial so that those for whom English is a second language were matched with native speakers and students with literacy difficulties were paired with more expert readers. These more general ways of working, not necessarily particular to multimedia, had other spinoffs, as one of their teachers described: ‘The collaborative aspect was invaluable not only for sharing knowledge, but for building self-esteem.’ Looking at how the animals move, the pupils explored moving themselves. They went into the school hall, got down on the ground and tried different possibilities: using two legs (like a grey heron on Hackney Marshes), or four legs (like a camel in the desert), or with four legs but your whole body along the ground (like a gecko in the desert). When they had an idea of what might

Figure 2.2 Screen shot from ‘Animals in Action’ project


Vivi Lachs

Figure 2.3 Screen shot of Toco Toucan

work, they checked in books and finally animated it. One of the SEN teachers stressed: ‘They were discovering by doing it, finding out that it’s the two legs one side at a time that get to move and then animating it crystallises it.’ Before they began animating they sketched what would be on each card so that they could be sure of getting the sequence correct. Again this was an effective method of supporting their learning. One of the support teachers explained: The animation was so motivating. Putting in the stages in order for it to move. It’s a breakthrough in ordering the sequencing of the animation. They understand the movement and relate it to cartoons on the telly. Special educational needs pupils need concrete examples and appa-ratus. The animation brings it to life in a concrete way. Pupils had to find different ways of showing information. The animation didn’t explain everything, so text and sound were added to complete the picture. The choice of what information to put where was left to the pupils. A pair working on the rainforest had animated a toucan picking up a berry. When they found out that it had a tongue they decided to re-do the animation adding the toucan opening and closing its mouth—showing its tongue — before it then picked up the berry. They added an explanatory voice-over:

Working with multimedia in the classroom


‘The toucan has a very thin long tongue to help it move food around its mouth.’ ‘They had extraordinary patience,’ said one of the teachers, ‘they didn’t seem to mind if they lost a page, they were just motivated to move on.’ Conclusion

From both my observation and the class teacher’s evaluations, it was clear that the pupils, without exception, were highly motivated by this work, putting time, energy and concentration into the project. Making animations seemed to increase the motivation to ‘find out’, and subsequently, I would argue, affected the quality of their learning. The activity of sequencing, which is necessary to produce animations, ensured that pupils got to know the subject matter extremely well. The animation brought these ideas to life and made them more understandable. The class teachers suggested that the quality of science learned went beyond the usual. This is partly due to the special nature of the project and the motivational effects it had. However, it is also due to the pupils’ readiness to carry out research themselves. Additionally the process itself brought up different sorts of questions, for example specific details of the pictures they drew that were vital for the animation. The pupils also learned a tremendous amount about HyperStudio and multimedia hypertexts in general as well as the science. Working in pairs demanded collaboration as a standard way of working. This increased students’ attention to detail as there was constant feedback and change. This was particularly useful for these mixed ability groups where for many of the pupils English was an additional language, and some had special educational needs. Working in this way made it possible to fulfil some of the higher levels of IT capability, from the careful planning to presentation and evaluation of their work. In National Curriculum terms they covered the ‘communicating information’ strand, considering audience and responding to criticism by refining their work. Most of the teachers of the sixteen projects felt motivated and confident to start new projects, although some were not completely confident in their abilities to be able to replicate this project on their own. Although time consuming, all but one teacher felt it was worthwhile and would become more a part of classroom practice as confidence grew. The CD-ROM The Moving Picture Science Show has been used in schools across Hackney, the UK and other parts of the world. It gives science information, but it also represents a new way of teaching and learning. My account of this process has stressed the very real advantages of turning the activity of authoring into a new way of learning. It enables students to comprehend, represent and criticise concepts in ways that are exciting, relevant and entertaining. I hope it will lead the way for other projects of this kind.

Chapter 3 The Rosendale Odyssey Multimedia memoirs and digital journeys Rebecca Sinker

This chapter describes an ambitious and elaborate online multimedia project involving a complete infants school and its community. It raises a number of issues relating to the ways whole-school projects might be organised and argues that multimedia can provide a unique and holistic medium to deliver a range of teaching and learning objectives.


The Rosendale Odyssey, a media arts in education project, took place from October 1995 to December 1996, as a collaboration between Rosendale Infants School, in Lambeth, South London and the Photographers’ Gallery.1 My post was established through the Arts Council Media Arts in Education Scheme and part of my brief was to evaluate the Rosendale Odyssey. My evaluation of the project continued until July 1997 and this account is based on my involvement over the whole period, as well as interviews with various participants. Lens-based artists Dave Lewis and Shona Illingworth worked in residence for one school year, along with the Gallery’s project co-ordinator, Fiona Bailey and myself. In the final term, Fiona worked with Internet artist, Julie Myers, to develop the multimedia work into a web site (http:// which is still online. Rosendale Infants School, has a population of 320 children, from four to seven years old, drawn from a culturally diverse local community. There are twentytwo different languages spoken within the school by children (and staff) of African, Caribbean, Asian, Latin American, Chinese and European descent. In 1997 the school was to celebrate its centenary, and the Odyssey was partly devised to mark this commemorative event for the children as well as the wider school community of parents and carers. Diana Jenkins, the head teacher, felt that simply investigating the Victorian past of the school would exclude too many of the children and commented: ‘We wanted to do something which marked

Multimedia memoirs and digital journeys


this moment. We may not share a past but we do share a future.’ In discussion with Fiona Bailey, they devised a project that would enable all the children to investigate their own families, community, histories and experiences, exploring changes and celebrating diversity. It was designed to be cross-curricular and to involve the whole school through multimedia storytelling, using photography, video, drawing, digital imaging, sound and text. This range of media was brought together by the children, working with the artists, using a multimedia authoring software program. Through this work the children built up a picture of their own diverse histories, which they were able to share and explore with each other, and the school was left with a media arts resource for future work. The Photographers’ Gallery has a history of doing school-based education work2 but this was an ambitious project. It was an opportunity to work with the whole school community over a year, investigating themes and approaches relevant to recent issue-based work and current arts practice. This initiative was part of the Gallery’s integrated programming philosophy, whereby education work does not inhabit a marginal space, but is developed alongside the programme and shown in the main exhibition spaces. Rosendale Odyssey was exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery as part of Translocations (http:// in March and April 1997. One of the main aims was to give young children and teachers in early years education access to digital technologies and the Internet, and through this to encourage links with other schools. Equally important was to ensure that this access and the impetus to use new technologies didn’t end with the project. Fiona felt that it was vital to leave something behind that the school could continue to use: This was a long-term project which tried to integrate photography and new technology at all levels, across the school, throughout the curriculum. You need time to develop something like that and especially to make sure that it doesn’t end with the residency—both in terms of resources left in the school and also by planting seeds of what’s possible, so the school can pick it up and run with it. It was for this reason that I continued to monitor the school for one year after the artists left, to see what, if anything, that legacy might be. Equipment

Apart from traditional art and design materials, the tools we used were basic ‘point and shoot’ cameras, an audio-cassette recorder, a digital camera, a scanner and three Apple Macintosh ‘Power PC’ computers. The school already had a basic RM Nimbus machine in each class but we used Macs for this project because of their large memory capacity and suitability for creative


Rebecca Sinker

digital work. The schools Macs are sited in the library. We used Adobe Photoshop, a commercial image manipulation tool and HyperStudio, which is cross-platform (Mac, Acorn and PC), and designed specifically for use with young children. Process

Working with so many children required planning and negotiation. Prior to the residency, we arranged a parents’ meeting to discuss the project’s aims and ethos, its duration, the new opportunities it would provide and also the home and parental input required. Because the project was actively eliciting information and artefacts from home, it was essential to establish and maintain a relationship with the parents or carers. Throughout the project, but especially in terms two and three, a fair number of parents, carers and grandparents contributed: through questionnaires, the loan of images and by coming in, before or after school, to be interviewed by children. Following this introduction, the teachers and artists tried to see how the project might be integrated into the existing curriculum, particularly focusing on the problem of equal access for the whole school. The deputy head, Philip Jones, took on the role of project co-ordinator within the school (in the second and third terms this role was shared with year 1 teacher, Jo Davey). Problems of mismatched expectations between artists and teachers did arise, particularly around the lack of flexibility in the school timetable. Similarly, with no real model to rely on for either the scale of the project, or the combination of media, there was an inevitable period of trial and error which some participants found frustrating. The broad themes for the project were identified as: family, identity, memory, history, geography and communication—a genuinely cross-curricular matrix. Since so much of the investigative work involved speaking, listening and writing, English skills played an integral part, as did a number of issues from PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) and, of course, Information Communication Technology (ICT) was central to the whole initiative. These themes and the new technologies were introduced by a slide-show, presented to each year group, just before the artists’ work commenced. All the children had a camera at home, or had at least been photographed, and the majority had themselves taken photographs. This familiarity with the medium and experience of being the subject, as well as viewing and making photographic images, was an important starting point. The project was able to build on this experience, extending the children’s critical and creative skills and introducing some of the theory behind the family snap as a cultural artefact (see Spence & Holland 1991; Isherwood & Stanley 1994; Walton 1995). In a sense the ideas and activities of the first term laid the groundwork for the whole project. All the children were given the opportunity to take photographs of each other, deciding where they wanted to be photographed —the aim here being to give each child a sense of control over his or her

Multimedia memoirs and digital journeys


representation. In practice, of course, this doesn’t always work because photographs don’t necessarily turn out the way we imagine; but in later exercises children were able to say if and why they did or didn’t like the picture, and they were able to manipulate their images on the computer. It was necessary to give guidance and sometimes physical assistance but without directing the image or taking the photograph. Initially we went through exercises to get them to think about how we look at things and how images are framed. This introduced simple photo education concepts such as point of view, selection and framing, and these ideas were developed back in the classroom through extended drawings, discussion and writing, which reappeared later in the digital work. This project ran for one year, which for the youngest children was almost a quarter of their lives. Notions of time and history are relative so to introduce them we used the children’s own memories and started in a modest way— asking them to remember what they had for breakfast—and then framing this in the past as part of their own history.3 Notes were sent home requesting children bring in photos of themselves, their parents, grandparents and extended family, and teachers made artists aware of potentially sensitive issues in each class, such as with adopted children. The approaching centenary meant that history was an underlying thread throughout the project and with the school as a point of convergence we were able to draw on the wider community for memoirs, artefacts and photographs. These initial sessions (in the first term) were carried out with the whole class, on a cascade model—with one or two children from a class explaining what they had done to the next class. Occasionally small groups were taken out of the class, for instance when using ‘the memory blanket’. (This was a video corner set up in the library, for children to recount stories in relative privacy, while being videoed by another child.) The digital photography and multimedia work didn’t start until after Easter. There were advantages and disadvantages to this schedule. Much of the early artwork had to be scanned into the computers which was very time consuming. Working with small groups on the three computers, and rotating the children in those groups to try and ensure that everyone got a turn and was able to contribute in some way, also took time. Had there been the opportunity to start work earlier on the computers, this might not have seemed like such a rush. Although it was never the intention that each child would produce their own, individual HyperStudio stack, the whole-school approach meant that there were equal opportunities issues to negotiate: how to compile work where all the children (in whatever medium) were represented; how to ensure that each child had the opportunity to do at least one piece of creative work on the computer. But there were benefits too from the exploratory approach of this development period. Most significant perhaps was the way the shyest children, or those with learning difficulties, were brought out of themselves, able to


Rebecca Sinker

tell personal anecdotes and stories to the artists and to each other, which fed directly into the HyperStudio work later. This was something which could only be achieved over time and gave each child an obvious sense of satisfaction. Working within the classroom and with familiar materials, before they were introduced to the new technology, made them more comfortable with the themes. By the end of the second term, the artists were working with smaller groups on the computers in the library, or around the school with the digital camera, while the remainder of the class was doing project-related work in the classroom with the teacher. Within these groups children would take turns to design and construct their pages, often working together on the text (through interview or joint story telling) with the adult typing as they talked. By voicing their thoughts and having them transcribed, children were able to express far more than if they had laboriously typed everything themselves. Shona noted ‘This kind of storytelling, imaginative description that conjures up images for other people, is very sophisticated…and this environment was particularly conducive to getting children to create pictures, images, in other children’s minds, of places or whatever.’ They would type short pieces, names and captions, and used the mouse and keyboard for all the painting and for making buttons. The two artists worked with year 1 (Dave) and year 2 (Shona), while Fiona worked with reception and nursery. I supported each of them, working with groups or individual children, as and where it was necessary. By participating in these activities, I was made aware of certain issues, relating to the evaluation, which I might not have noticed had I remained an observer—for instance the collaborative, co-operative or competitive positions the children would adopt when working in small groups in front of the computer. At the end of the third term (July 1996) there was an exhibition of all the work which had been made over the year, including the preparatory work, the writing, drawing and collage work undertaken by teachers following the themes set by the artists, the finished multimedia production and a pilot of the web site. (See plates I – XII for a selection of images from the web site.) The following October Fiona and I returned to the school for one final term to help make the first email links with other schools, and to support Susan Sharpe (IT co-ordinator) and Jo Davey in developing the themes and skills established through the project, across the school. In the terms leading up to the summer of 1997, Jo worked with reception to make two new literacy resources and Susan worked with year 3 (who had been involved in Rosendale Odyssey the previous year) on a project about the junior school, and another about the school environment. She also began working with the new nursery class. Along with these HyperStudio projects, eight out of ten classes in the infants established email links with another school. In autumn 1997 the infants amalgamated with the juniors to form one school. This will undoubtedly have an impact on the ICT policy and provision.

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I examined a number of issues which were specific to this project. The results of this evaluation are available as part of the Rosendale Odyssey web site but I will make some broader observations here. It is difficult to unpick the precise value of using multimedia technology since, in this instance, a number of different perspectives interact with each other: the technology; the different pedagogic practices of teachers and artists; working with artists in schools; allowing children to explore their own lives and value their own and each other’s experiences. On the one hand, multimedia facilitated a flexible working process, whereby work made early on in the project could be incorporated and then built on (by the same or different children), in the final interactive piece. On the other hand, it was actually the artists who developed a reflective practice, enabling cross-year and crosscurricular links to happen though their continuous dialogue with all the participants in the project. The children’s use of family photos, interviews, oral histories and images of personal significance, plus parental involvement and links to home, all helped motivate them and foster an interest in each other. Shona noted, ‘It was very interesting to see how the project worked towards giving children a greater understanding and allowed them to develop an interest in each other’s (cultural) experiences and also, at that age, to see a kind of pleasure in diversity appearing.’ The work was ultimately grouped by theme rather than age which also served to break down traditional boundaries between classes or subjects and establish links (digital and conceptual), between children, stretching beyond the school. Again the hypertextual nature of the media, as a network of links, with a variety of navigational options and its presentation format, visual, aural and public, precipitated ideas and connections unlike those found in individual pieces of written or drawn classwork. A number of other issues emerged all of which relate to a wider set of concerns about the uses of new technologies in education contexts: • The relationship between professional and non-professional and the shifting ground between teachers and learners. • The significance of a convergence of communication modes—verbal, oral, visual, aural. • The question of private versus public and the notion of audience.

Teaching and learning

Knowledge of computers is an area where the opposition between ‘expert’ and ‘non-expert’, those who are in possession of the knowledge versus those who are not, is acute. This perceived gap is particularly apparent between


Rebecca Sinker

generations. While they might not be deemed experts, the children in this project appeared comfortable and familiar with computers. This is not to suggest some innate ability but to observe that they rarely seemed intimidated and picked things up very quickly, often by trial and error (which is exactly the approach that puts many adults off). In contrast, some of the teachers often felt decidedly uneasy or inept, even after training, and would declare themselves as ‘useless with computers’. It is this difference in attitude as much as ability which represents a potential shift in the role of teacher (expert) and learner (non-expert). Interestingly, the artists at Rosendale were not digital arts experts and were often learning one or two steps ahead of the children. This levelling between artist and pupil actually enhanced the learning environment and encouraged the children to show off their skills to the adult and each other. The fact that all of the project participants had to share their time on the machines from the beginning meant that collaboration and peer teaching were built in to the process, with children sharing knowledge, skills and ideas. Much of the ‘culture clash’ between artists’ practice and the school’s (or teacher’s) approach to learning arose early on in the project. These issues are not specific to the media or technologies being used, or even the themes being explored, but are a product of applying the developmental, experimental and process-based approach of arts practice within the regulated, timetabled and often subject-specific environment of the school. This question has been raised and dealt with elsewhere; see Robinson 1982; Dahl 1990; and Sharp & Dust 1997. However, the length of this project (one academic year as opposed to one term or less), enabled artists, teachers and children to develop relationships with each other and negotiate ways of working which might otherwise not have had time to mature. New models of communication

It appears that young people are drawn to the new modes of communication, such as multimedia, because they are visual, accessible and familiar, and constitute one more in a whole range of technologies (photo, video, audio) to which they have access. (For many adults they are still a phenomenon which might explain both our fascination and our fear of them.) Tools which offer creative potential, such as Photoshop or HyperStudio, increase the possibilities for interaction and authorship. Multimedia authoring quickly allows children to see their own learning paths as well as the results of their creative endeavours, in a form that looks attractive and even professional. This gives them pleasure and a sense of achievement. The aesthetics of the work (although constrained by the software and the hardware on which it is being displayed) is an issue, but not one which I can explore at length here. I don’t think this is the only medium where children can feel a sense of achievement but, partly because there are as yet no set criteria codifying what is good or

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bad mark-making, screen or hyperstack design, children find such activities gratifying. A sense of achievement, of contribution, of authorship (group and individual) and the motivation which results from this were all manifest in this project. One area of agreement for all the participants was that the majority of children seemed to get enormous pleasure, through the control afforded to them by this medium, at every stage: from the image design and manipulation to the editing, completion and presentation of their finished work. The project seemed also to make explicit a dialogue between making and understanding; and this ‘critical’ dimension to the children’s work was equally valued. I would further suggest that this model of learning strongly contrasts with the model of visual literacy stipulated by the National Curriculum (DfEE 1995): ‘In order to develop visual literacy children should be taught about the different ways in which ideas, feelings and meanings are communicated in visual form’ (my emphasis). This essentially passive model of learning (repeated in the programme of study for all key stages) is at odds with the notion of a critical dialogue between making and understanding which marked the Rosendale experience so powerfully. In addition to the communicative possibilities afforded by the visual aspect of multimedia, this format also allowed the children to experiment with and layer a whole range of linguistic conventions, within the vocal and textual forms used. These ranged from commentary, explanation, conversation and interview to songs, captions, storytelling (fact and fiction), oral history and jokes. With these different forms of language, the children were able to extend or reinforce or even disrupt the meaning of the images. Susan, talking about the HyperStudio work she went on to do with year 3, using digital photos of the junior school, observed that the work was like a message to someone. The pictures that they are drawing are their representations, and usually you get them to write a label because you can’t understand the picture! But here you are actually talking about real photographs that in fact you don’t need to explain. You don’t need to say ‘Oh, she’s wearing a blue dress’, or ‘I’m going into the park’, because that is all evident from the photograph, so you’re extending it…. Also you can put in a sound, somebody saying something, so if you’ve got a button that says, you know, ‘This is our classroom in school’, you don’t then need to write that. What you can write about is the other things that you can’t see in the picture, that you can’t hear, the things that people don’t know about.

New audiences

Work by and about children for a public audience can be problematic and sometimes controversial. Because this project encouraged parental


Rebecca Sinker

rinvolvement from the outset, most adults felt consulted and could engage with the work throughout its development, so we had very few difficult situations relating to privacy or child safety. The place of children’s work in a gallery and on the Internet is still hotly debated, as it touches on the representation of children in society. From this point of view the Rosendale Odyssey is not that different from other projects that have used photography in education to explore similar themes. However, there are a couple of significant differences which I see emerging from the uses of digital technology, first in relation to audiences and, second, authorship. This work was as much about process—ways of working—as product and to that extent it really did evolve in the wake of previous photography-in-education initiatives. But the products (the multimedia work and especially the web site) differ in that they can legitimately exist in an arena beyond the school and even beyond the gallery. They have a communicative potential not restricted to either the context in which they were originally produced, or the distribution networks which might traditionally support gallery education work. This is born out by the email responses to the web site, coming from a diverse international audience which includes individual children, other schools, parents, university lecturers, artists, cybercafé surfers and policy makers. Rosendale Odyssey embodies the marks of children not only through images and text, but also through the sequencing and linking of the stacks and the children’s voices. While some of the design decisions are dictated by the medium, most editorial choices were made by the children and the juxtaposition of their own voices over images, text and transitions give a sense of authorship and ownership which is not always so apparent in other (single) media forms. For the children this project was, at the very least, a special event, a memorable experience from their time at infant school which as Diana Jenkins commented would never be lost. It also provides the basis for future development of skills and ideas. For the school there have been some measurable outcomes from the project, related but not limited to the use of digital technology: • It has raised the profile of the school in the local community. • It has cemented links between the school and home, and set a standard for parental involvement. • It has illustrated the way that this technology can motivate children who are shy or have learning difficulties or use English as a second language. • It has shown how work of a culturally diverse nature can be used to explore a whole range of issues across the curriculum. And how does this translate into other contexts? The next stage would be to examine the afterlife of this ‘text’. How might the school community be

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affected in the longer term, and who from the Internet’s wider audience is engaging with this work and for what reasons? Notes 1 The project received additional funding, sponsorship and support from the Sir John Cass Foundation, the Walcott Educational Foundation, the Gulbenkian Foundation, Kodak, ARTEC and Middlesex University. The research was funded by the Arts Council of England. 2 See particularly, ‘The Amazing Me…and other stories’ Primary photography exhibition, the Photographers’ Gallery, 17 March–6 May 1995. 3 In the history section of Picture My World, Kamina Walton (1995:80) suggests that ‘By charting familiar changes within their own lives children are able to grasp the fundamental concept of the past and this provides a good starting point for the study of the subject.’

References DfEE (1995) Art in the National Curriculum London: DfEE. Dahl, D. (1990) Residencies in Education London: A N Publications. Isherwood, S. & Stanley, N. (1994) Creating Vision London: The Arts Council of Great Britain. Robinson, K. (ed.) (1982) The Arts in Schools: Principles, Practice and Provisions London: Gulbenkian Foundation. Sharp, C. & Dust, K. (1997) Artists in Schools London: NFER. Spence, J. & Holland, P. (ed.) (1991) Family Snaps London: Virago. Walton, K. (1995) Picture My World London: Arts Council of England. ``

Chapter 4 A digital big breakfast The Glebe School Project Avril Loveless

This chapter describes a case study of primary children working with information and communications technology (ICT) in the visual arts and considers some of the issues raised for teacher development in the field. It set out to explore how the digital in digital arts might make a distinctive contribution to the development and expression of visual literacy in young children. Its second focus is how digital arts might play a role in helping teachers to look afresh at the visual processes in which their children are engaging—can digital art act as a catalyst for new ways of working in the classroom?


The Glebe School Project was initially set up to explore a number of questions about children’s creative use of ICT. However, by the end of the project it raised many more questions about the ways in which teachers can be supported to develop this work. The end products of children’s work from such focused projects can be very impressive, having been supported by the attention and resources of the project team and displayed to a high quality and to a wide audience. It is, however, important to consider the purpose and process of the work in terms of the learner’s experience; the teacher’s understanding and pedagogy; and the wider cultural context in which this work takes place. This has implications for teacher development and the nature of the training that teachers receive during the new initiatives for ICT in education. Not untypically for work with new technology, the Glebe School Project was stimulated by a 1994 conference, ‘Catching Up With the Kids’, presented by Lighthouse—the Brighton Media Centre, which brought together groups of people from education and the media arts who shared similar enthusiasms and concerns about the cultural role of ICTs in children’s learning. The conference raised a number of broad questions and these fuelled the development of the project—a collaboration between Lighthouse, the School of Education in the University of Brighton and the Glebe Middle School— supported by South East Arts:

The Glebe School Project


• What does is mean to be literate in the ‘Information Age’? • How is visual literacy recognised and valued in the current debate about literacy in schools? • How can children be encouraged to be creators of visual meaning as well as consumers in an increasingly multimedia cultural environment? • How might IT capability, as described in the National Curriculum, be developed through, and support, practice in the visual arts? • What role does ICT play in perceptions of ‘modern childhood’ and children’s competence and confidence with new technologies? • How can teachers and learners be encouraged to have a critical understanding of the social and cultural impact of ICT? • What models of teacher development are useful in promoting good practice in the development of visual literacy and ICT capability? Glebe Middle School in Southwick, West Sussex, has a long-standing commitment to the development of children’s visual literacy. The ethos of the school celebrates achievement and sets high expectations of personal effort. High priority is given to the quality of the visual environment to reflect this ethos throughout the school—each classroom, corridor, office and public area is designed and presented to be visually engaging and stimulating. Children’s work is displayed in imaginative ways and the range of displays reflects the variety of ongoing work throughout the school. A visitor to the school is given the impression of stepping into an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of activity and achievement. The school also had a commitment to working with outside agencies to promote both curriculum and professional development. A media adviser had worked in the school previously and the children had experienced activities in which visual literacy was investigated through photography. They had explored ideas of identity and projection of self-image through topics based on fabrics and fashion and local history, using photographs and photocopies to consider the effects and purposes of manipulating presentation by framing, cropping, enlarging, reducing, cutting with scissors and pasting with glue (Walton 1995). The project outline

‘The Big Breakfast’ was the stimulus topic for the digital arts project. The title of the morning TV magazine programme was used to stimulate crosscurricular work on nutrition which was planned within the curriculum framework for year 5 (9–10-year-olds). The children were given the brief to work in pairs to create a visually stimulating poster which would encourage people to eat a healthy breakfast—including drawings, textiles, photographs, packaging and real foods, all of which were scanned and stored in digital form to be used as elements in the final poster.


Avril Loveless

The project team was made up of twenty-four children from year 5, a class teacher from the school, six student teachers, a digital artist from Lighthouse and an IT tutor from the University School of Education. The IT resource was an Apple Macintosh computer with Adobe Photoshop image manipulation software. The children were given the brief and then shown some of the key facilities of Photoshop. They discussed their preliminary ideas for making a poster with such a resource and were given three weeks (away from the computer) to develop these ideas, producing a portfolio of images. The student teachers assisted them in this stage of the work using the scanning facilities available at Lighthouse to digitise the children’s work. The group of children was then given a week in which to use the digitised portfolio of images to make their posters. Practically, this meant that each pair had up to two hours to present their ideas using the technology. The digital artist was available to work with them throughout the week, accompanied at various times by the teacher, tutor and students. The finished pieces were printed to a high quality and displayed locally in the school, local library and shopping precinct, as well as at the School of Education and nationally at a number of art education and research conferences. The children’s work was also used in a multimedia presentation, which was then published on the CD-ROM, Digital Creativity (Hobin & Cornish, 1996). (See plates XIII – XVI for a selection of images from the Glebe Big Breakfast project.) From observations of the development of the work and discussions with the children about their finished posters and the ways in which they worked on them, the team identified nine elements in the children’s perception and experience of the tasks (Loveless 1997a): • a strong sense of narrative behind each visual image, from ‘going camping’ to the children shrinking in size and finding themselves being poured into the breakfast bowl; • a clear understanding of the focus of the message being related to healthy eating and fun, drawing upon the cross-curricular work associated with the topic on nutrition; • an informed use of colour and the role it might play in conveying the message and creating different moods; • an awareness of the role of text with visual images and the ways it could be manipulated in size, form and colour to influence the message; • an awareness and discussion of the design of the posters through the placing of images and the interaction of colour and text; • a positive and enthusiastic affective response to the activity and the use of the technology itself, both in the process and in the finished product; • an awareness of an audience, from other children to ‘teachers and impor tant people’, who would take their work seriously because of the high quality of the presentation of their posters;

The Glebe School Project


• a positive and almost uncritical view of the technology and what it might enable them to do; • a strategic and collaborative way of working, reflecting the approach of a practitioner exploring the possibilities of tools to express ideas, rather than a skills-based approach.

Why digital?

As I have suggested above there were some specific questions which related to the digital nature of the work underpinning the project: 1 How would the children use the digital technologies to create and communicate meaning? 2 What were the characteristics of the digital technology that mimicked, enhanced or extended the children’s experience of creating visual images with other media? 3 How were the children able to relate their work to the wider world in different ways by using digital technology? Evaluating the project from the perspective of these questions, four themes seem to emerge that related more specifically to the digital aspects of the activity—techniques, processes, working practices and the relationship with the audience (Loveless 1997b). Digital techniques

Having seen a brief demonstration of the features of the Photoshop, the children had clear, and high, expectations about what the technology would enable them to do. They realised that they could mimic familiar processes which they had experienced with other media, from paint to photography and photocopying. They could make marks with lines, paints and patterns; they could cut and paste; they could copy; and they could place and replace elements of images while they considered their overall design. They were also able to manipulate these elements of their images by scaling, sizing, flipping and rotating. Such techniques had been possible before with photocopiers and darkrooms, scissors and glue, but this new technology enabled them to specify and carry out these manipulations and transfor mations more immediately. There were also techniques and visual effects available to the children that they had not encountered before with other media. They were quick to realise the advantages of working with layers within one image. Having grasped the analogy of working with layers of acetate to build up an image, they were able to separate out particular elements of the picture which needed to be


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worked on without affecting their other ideas. This was useful in building up and changing complicated backgrounds without interfering with borders, text or the montage of people and objects. Cloning was also considered to be useful in helping them to select or design their own ‘paint’. One group used a fragment of a mountainside from a photographic image and used it to paint a whole mountain range as a background to their work. Filters were popular with one pair, who were delighted with the facility to cover surfaces with the effect of a lettuce leaf and were encouraged to exercise some restraint with their new powers. Changing the opacity of elements of the image became a powerful tool in creating ghosts! Two teaching models were apparent whilst the children were focusing on the development of these techniques—a teacher/demonstrator and peer group tutoring. The teacher or tutor acted as a technical demonstrator and prompt, whilst the children quickly worked together as peer tutors, sharing their new expertise. The teacher gave an initial demonstration of possible techniques that the children might want to use, highlighting some simple strategies for using the mouse for working with the menus and dialogue boxes. She then stepped back to let the children explore the different effects, reminding them of the appropriate menus when asked and making suggestions in response to the children’s discussion and questions. As the children themselves became more familiar with the software, they supported each other both creatively in suggesting particular effects and technically in directing their peers to where these effects could be found in the menus and urging the importance of saving work frequently! Digital processes

The children all expressed a positive response to the ease with which they were able to explore, try, erase, save, retrieve and develop their visual ideas with the graphics package. This gave an immediacy to the trial and error, without the fear of losing or spoiling the parts of the images with which they had already worked and were satisfied. It also provided them with a longer-term view, in that they were able to save work in several versions of development and return to it at these different stages as their ideas shifted or changed. They contrasted these processes with their experiences with traditional media, where too much experimentation with colours would make the ‘paint go brown and the paper go soggy’. This interaction between ‘the maker’ and ‘the made’ is a key element of visual literacy, in which visual ideas develop through feedback and reflection. The digital technology provided the children with an environment in which they could develop their confidence in making marks and placing objects, in order to see how the elements of an image related to and influenced each other. They commented that ‘the first design wasn’t very good and we changed it a lot on the computer’, but recognised the frustration of the limited time available to finish their work when they had so many ideas to develop.

The Glebe School Project


The teacher interventions during the development of these processes were of a higher order than the interventions with the techniques. The interaction between the teacher and children was more questioning and challenging, making suggestions for ways forward and engaging in a conversation about ideas. The children were encouraged to try out their ideas by experimenting, looking, discussing and changing and were reassured that they could save and return to earlier versions. The focus of the discussion was on the quality of the visual ideas, not the techniques offered by the technology. Digital working practices

Three themes emerged from looking at the ways in which the children worked—the nature of the collaboration in the groups; gender differences; and the children’s perception of themselves as artists working with digital technology. A key feature of the work was the collaboration between the pairs of children in designing and collecting the elements for their poster and discussing the ways in which they could use the features of the graphics package to develop and present their ideas. The work on the screen was owned jointly and equally by the two partners and could be viewed for further consultation and discussion with other children and adults. A fair use of the keyboard and mouse was negotiated within the pairs, ranging from free use whenever a new idea occurred to the strict taking of turns. Most of the pairs were self-selected single-sex groups and there were noticeable gender differences in the approaches to the task with the computer (Underwood 1994). Both boys and girls had a positive approach to the use of the technology and those with computers at home made explicit comparisons with the features and capabilities of the school’s machines. One boy referred to his home computer as ‘a bit of a wind up one’ on which he had never been able to produce such work. The boys, however, did show more interest in the general workings of the computer, commenting on the mouse, menus and general speed and size of the computer. They tended to take turns in operating the mouse and keyboard, counting either the number of operations or timing the turn. The girls commented less on the technical features of the system, devising rhymes and chants to help themselves remember the ways through the menu structures to particular features. They worked more collaboratively by working on the image through discussion and joint decisions. As well as the different styles of working around the screen, it was observed that some of the images produced by the groups of boys and girls had different characteristics. Two of the boys’ pairs produced quite complicated posters, both in visual design and narrative. Intricate stories of transport systems, conveyor belts, supply and demand were woven around one image; whilst another illustrated the combining of three songs—‘She’ll be coming


Avril Loveless

round the mountain’, ‘If you go down to the woods today’ and ‘Bananas in pyjamas are coming down the stairs’. The girls’ groups shared their ideas between themselves to such an extent that their posters were rather similar in both design and story. An interesting feature of the ways in which all the children worked was their sense of purpose and immersion in producing the poster and their view of the technology as a means to an end. They worked on their tasks in role— as artists or designers, developing their ideas in the context of the given brief and the meaning of their visual images. After their initial demonstration and introduction to the potential of the graphics package, they had high expectations of the computer’s capabilities and looked or asked for particular effects as and when they needed them. Their technical capabilities and confidence grew over the length of the project and in later discussions of how they might further develop their work, they used the technical terms for techniques—cut, paste, rotate, scale or substitute elements—in order to communicate their ideas. As in all areas of the curriculum, the quality of the children’s learning experiences can be organised and managed in terms of grouping and peer tutoring, not only to provide access to technologies and techniques, but also to provide opportunities for collaboration and expression. Digital technology, however, provides unique features in that it can be used very effectively for shared and collaborative work and has cultural credibility with the children. They related their work to the images and conventions they experienced in the wider world and seemed to regard themselves as working like real artists using tools to some purpose. Digital audiences

This link between their own experience of working and the wider world was reinforced in their attitudes to the purpose and presentation of the work. The nature of the display and the potential audience for their work were exciting developments for the children. It was clear that they took tremendous pride in the work that they had produced, both in electronic and printed form. They had a sense of ownership of their images and lively ideas on how they might adapt or improve them in the future. They were pleased to know that their work would be exhibited to a variety of audiences, from their friends in school to the local public and delegates at a national conference. The prospect of the multimedia presentation being made available to strangers on a CD-ROM was a little more difficult to comprehend, but thrown into sharp relief during an OFSTED inspection. The children commented on the vividness of the images on the screen and suggested that the quality of the final prints made the work look ‘real’ in ways that their other work had not achieved. Prints can often be the disappointing link in the whole process of digital art, so care was taken to

The Glebe School Project


provide sufficient funds for the final outcomes to be printed on high quality paper and photocopied at a local Colour Copy Shop, rather than on school facilities. The children felt that the finished pieces did not look like ‘children’s work’ and would be taken seriously by the adults—the ‘teachers and important people’ —who would be viewing their work. The overall time and resources available were limited and so the final multimedia presentation was designed and produced by an experienced digital artist at Lighthouse. It did, however, raise a number of questions about the exciting possibilities for the children to produce their own presentations in the future. There was lively discussion of the ways in which the presentation used their visual images, the text of their own words and was accompanied by sound. Their suggestions for improvements were appropriate and indicated an understanding of the ways in which multimedia authoring packages support freedom in structure and links. Issues for teachers

The children’s work in the project illustrated a number of characteristics of the digital nature of their work and ways of working. These have a number of implications for teachers. In particular I am concerned that the questions and ideas raised in the project impact on teacher development and not just rest in the final exhibition of the children’s work and their memories of the experience. The chief anxiety expressed by the student teachers and practising teachers involved in the project were the skills and understanding required in both art and ICT. They felt that they could not begin to introduce digital art into their classrooms until they felt completely competent with the hardware and software and, even if that could happen, there would not be enough time to spend with the children as they worked. These are real anxieties arising from experiences of working with limited or dated resources in busy classrooms in a crowded curriculum. It is interesting to note, however, that these technical difficulties are often placed as the first hurdle to such development in classrooms, when it is clear from talking to practising digital artists and observing the children working, that both artists and students have different starting points. The children started from a brief and concentrated on the challenge it posed—the range of visual ideas they wanted to try out. They had a broad overview of what the digital technology might be able to do, manipulating and presenting images, but this was not at all detailed or technical. It was only relevant in the context of the task, where the children could ask the project artist about particular features—‘How can I enlarge this? How can I make this person look more ghostly? How can I use rice krispies to make up the beach?’ They then developed a range of strategies to help them remember the different features—from asking each other to devising little rhymes and songs.


Avril Loveless

The project artist had certainly learned some of the techniques to achieve these effects, but this had also been in the context of her own work. She had, in fact, developed a set of strategies for exploring the features and effects of the graphics package, but not learned every detail of the package itself. I would argue that this strategic approach to the use of ICT, rather than skills training associated with specific packages, is a much more powerful way to achieve deeper learning—through the application of these skills. Teachers and students certainly need time to become familiar with new resources—noone would introduce areas such as screen printing or ceramics without spending some time with the resources first. However, an approach based solely on the specific skills and techniques relevant to particular software without making links to wider strategies for use in different contexts will only provoke anxiety. The issue lies more in the nature of the training experiences that teachers are offered. Techniques, processes, working practices and wider contexts need to be addressed explicitly to help teachers meet some of the concerns about using digital arts and to develop their own strategies for learning and teaching. Ways forward

Teacher development, whether in initial teacher training or in continuous professional development, will need to address the role of three key influences in this area—teaching strategies, subject knowledge and culture. Teaching strategies must encompass demonstration and instruction, interaction and collaboration, reflection and modification in framing the children’s learning experiences. Subject knowledge must include an understanding of the visual processes that digital technology can support and extend, as well as a confidence in the features and characteristics of that fast changing technology. It must also be recognised that such work is being developed in a wider culture beyond the classroom in which children encounter new media, new conventions in expressing meaning and new attitudes to the potential of digital technology. Developing work in the digital arts with young children raises a number of challenges for teachers and learners. Without some analysis of the processes involved and the potential for new ways of working, this area will be viewed as yet another problem to be added to the set of demands placed upon busy teachers. It can, however, be seen as a catalyst for looking at children’s visual literacy and visual ideas in new ways; raising questions about the nature of their experience in making visual art and providing opportunities for authentic work produced for interaction with real audiences. References Hobin, J. & Cornish, S. (1995) ‘Big Breakfast’. A Macromedia Director presentation of the work of the Glebe School Project in Worden, S. (ed.) Digital Creativity, the CD-

The Glebe School Project


ROM proceedings of the Computers in Art and Design Education (CADE 95) Conference, University of Brighton, April 1995. Loveless, A. (1997a) ‘Visual literacy and new technology in primary schools: the Glebe School Project’ in Journal of Computing and Childhood Education, Vol. 8, No. 2/3, 1997, pp. 97–110. ———(1997b) ‘Working with images, developing ideas’ in McFarlane, A. (ed.) Information Technology and Authentic Learning: Realising the Potential of Computers in the Primary Classroom London: Routledge. Underwood, G. (1994) ‘Collaboration and problem-solving: gender differences and the quality of discussion’ in Underwood, J.D.M. (ed.) Computer Based Learning: Potential into Practice London: David Fulton Publishers. Walton, K. (1995) Picture My World London: Arts Council of England.

Chapter 5 PhotoWork A case study in educational publishing for and by young people Jo Booth

A number of claims have been made about the ways that digital technologies can facilitate new opportunities for publishing by young people for a peer audience. It is frequently suggested that because the technology is relatively simple, young people will be able to become cultural producers in their own right. However, this chapter questions a number of these assumptions through its description of a photography education project in a primary school. The project led to the production of a CD-ROM by a year 4 class, and, although Jo Booth makes a convincing case for the educational value of the process, she raises a number of questions about the limitations of multimedia publishing and particularly the difficulties of using children’s work as an educational resource.


In September 1994, I was appointed as an Arts Council Trainee in museum/ gallery-based photography education, based at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT) in Bradford. One of the requirements of the traineeship was to produce a pilot educational project for a publication. This pilot eventually grew into the CD-ROM PhotoWork which I will discuss in this chapter. Initially financed by the Arts Council of England (ACE), PhotoWork was adopted and financially supported by the Museum when I took up my post as Education Officer in April 1996. This allowed work to continue on its development and production leading towards its eventual publication as an ACE and NMPFT educational resource. Still in production at the time of writing, PhotoWork is an interactive CDROM, authored using the multimedia software HyperStudio. It was produced by year 4 children at Bankfoot First School in Bradford; their class teacher Janet Lancaster; myself; and the developer, Geoff Clout, working on behalf of his company, Polkaville. It is an educational resource which aims to enhance pupils’ visual literacy and awareness of photography in the Key Stage 2

A case study in educational publishing


National Curriculum orders for art—although it also contains ideas useful for English, history, geography and PSE. The project ran in school for a full academic year and was designed to develop pupils’ critical understanding of photography: the codes and conventions governing the photographic image; how photographs construct meaning; and their interpretation. We aimed to foster an enthusiasm for photography, helping the children to recognise the value of their own domestic photographs as well as to appreciate the prevalence and diversity of the medium. The aim of the project was, first of all, to improve the children’s practical and intellectual access to photographs and, second, to distribute their work to other schools in the country. PhotoWork was produced in two stages. Initially we ran a number of practical photography activities in order to build up pupils’ confidence using, reading and taking photographs. We wanted to enable them to recognise what they already knew and understood about photography, and take ownership of the medium. During stage 2, the children authored a CD-ROM about photography and visual literacy for a peer audience. My account of this project will focus on the significance of the second stage of this project because I shall argue that authoring a CD-ROM, which re-presented their studies for a peer audience, enabled the children to gain a unique understanding of the concepts we wanted them to study. However, producing the CD-ROM was not without its problems and I hope my account of this process will challenge some of the assumptions made about the ‘new opportunities’ allegedly provided by digital technologies for children’s publishing. Although there is quite a long tradition in a number of subjects, especially Art or English, which values the publication of children’s work as a genuine part of their education, the recent explosion of accessible production technologies, especially CD-ROM and the Internet, has intensified the idea that traditionally disenfranchised groups, such as children, can now have access to new audiences and readers. I hope my account of some of the difficulties I encountered in my attempt to publish work by children as an educational resource may give a more sceptical perspective on this rhetoric. However, I would not want to undervalue the process of the PhotoWork project: the experience of transforming one’s own learning for another audience was an extremely successful mode of learning, even if the publication of that learning was more problematic than we first anticipated. Stage I: photography education

The first stage of the project involved studying a wide range of different types of photographs, concentrating on the factors which affect the way that photographs are read and produced. We organised a series of activities addressing a discrete number of classic photography concepts: framing; lighting; context; the fact that photographs only represent a tiny moment in


Jo Booth

time; and how photographs can show only a small segment of the action or scene. Ideas about viewpoint (physical and intellectual), camera angle, the effect of captions or text and the way in which meanings are constructed were also covered. Finally we discussed sites where photographs are usually found, including family albums, newspapers, magazines, billboards and galleries. The work centred around a number of key questions for the students. These were: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Why was the photograph taken? What message is it conveying? Who took the photograph? When was it taken? Which audience was it produced for? What’s in the frame? What’s not in the frame? What context will the photograph be seen in, and how will this affect its meaning? How do text and/or captions alter the meaning of a photograph? What happened before the photograph was taken? What happened afterwards? Has the photograph been cropped? Is it possible to tell?

The first activity involved looking at a selection of photographs in slide format. The children were given time to respond to them, and discuss possible uses for the images. This open approach seemed to inspire confidence in the pupils as they realised how much they already knew about the medium. For example, one of the photographs was a black and white image of a train track. The children thought that this image had probably been taken a long time ago (because it was in black and white), and that the track had probably been used for old-fashioned trains such as steam trains. They thought it had been made to look ‘blurry’ (i.e. soft focus) to make it seem like a nice place and to make people think that ‘things were better in the olden days’. Another from the selection was an advertisement for Kodak film (see Figure 5.1). The children knew immediately that it was an advertisement because they recognised the logo. We asked them why the photograph was ‘blurry’ (out of focus), and they said it was because Kodak wanted people to concentrate on the brightness of the colours, and associate them with Kodak film. The class teacher and I were impressed by these kind of responses because it demonstrated the children’s understandings of photographic conventions. Each member of the class was then given a magazine, and asked to select a photograph. These images were then copied on to slides, and the children individually talked about their photographs, sharing their thoughts with other class members. Again we found them to be articulate and enthusiastic. The

A case study in educational publishing


Figure 5.1 Advert for Kodak film

session proved successful in support of the speaking and listening aspect of the English curriculum, although the primary aim had been to raise the children’s own awareness of, and confidence in, their abilities to understand a wide range of complex visual languages. Another activity—about the framing of images—also supported talk in English. We gave each child a small plastic slide mount which acted as a frame, and asked them to draw what they could see through it. They then photographed the scene and compared the result with their original drawings. Some children found the close observation of detail challenging. We asked them to think about colour and contrasts in colour, about the light and dark areas (and their relation in the frame), and about the relative size of the objects pictured. This activity was followed up by another which required them to think about what was happening outside the frame of the image (see Figure 5.2). They were each given a photograph and asked to make the image ‘bigger’ by drawing what they thought might be happening outside the frame. This activity was developed later in the project when the children were asked to repeat the task using one of their own photographs, in order to communicate these ideas to an audience. Further activities involved the pupils taking photographs from different points of view. For example, we talked about the effect viewpoint has on the meaning of a photograph, such as a high point of view implying importance and power on the part of the photographer. We talked about how these conventions are used by photographers, and shot a series of photographs to


Jo Booth

Figure 5.2 Picture from ‘outside the frame’ activity

illustrate the ideas. This activity was followed by a consideration of the effect that different styles of lighting have on an image. Each child had a picture taken of themselves lit in different ways (front, top, side, etc.). The children concluded that if a photograph was lit from above then it would probably make the subject look ‘weird’ or ‘scary’; and if it was lit from the side it might imply glamour or drama and so on (see Figures 5.3a and 5.3b). These photographs were later developed into a game on the CD-ROM in which viewers are required to identify the source of light from a selection, according to the shadows falling on the children’s faces (see Figure 5.4). We looked at fashion photography, as an example of advertising work, and examined some of the poses and lighting styles in clothing catalogues. The children noted that boys and girls had been photographed differently for the catalogue, and concluded that the girls were more likely to be standing still than the boys who were often running, or playing games. Usually the photographs of boys included props connected with sports whereas the girls

Figure 5.3a Image to illustrate lighting

Figure 5.3b Image to illustrate lighting


Jo Booth

Figure 5.4 Picture of light game from CD-ROM

were likely to be passive. The children then posed in front of a backdrop, and modelled their own clothes as a way of rehearsing and consolidating their ideas (see figure 5.5). The most significant extended project undertaken for PhotoWork was the production of the ‘Bankfoot Times’ newspaper. Again this activity brought together art and English. The children had the opportunity to work with a journalist to write the stories, and a graphic designer to achieve an authentic

Figure 5.5 Children posing

A case study in educational publishing


look and feel. We wanted the children to gain a clear understanding of news values and the concept of ‘bias’ within stories. We talked about the effect that captions or text have on images, and the way that photographs are used to enhance newspaper sales. We talked about the various methods that could be employed to change the emphasis of a photograph, including cropping and captioning, and the reasons why this might be done. The children were then given the task of making suggestions for stories that could run under the header ‘School in the News’. We decided that the most appropriate way of articulating ideas about bias in news stories would be to write two stories, one ‘negative’ and one ‘positive’ about the same photograph. In an interactive medium, such as CD-ROM these could be made interchangeable—thus reinforcing how bias can be manufactured— by clicking on the image on the CD. The stories were written using a framework of questions which were who?, what?, when?, where? and how? (Figure 5.6) Stage 2: authoring the CD-ROM

Once all the practical activities had been run, we introduced the children to the idea of re-presenting their work to a peer audience, in order to communicate their own understandings of photography. We talked about the various methods of presenting work using multimedia software. We looked at the CD-ROMs already available to them in the classroom, such as the information—encyclopaedia types, particularly about art and music, alongside some of the Broderbund ‘Talking Books’ series, like Just Grandma and Me. and talked about the way that the producers had arranged the material for viewing. We introduced ideas of navigation and interactivity, and asked the children for suggestions about how their practical work could be organised

Figure 5.6 Example of newspaper work—‘Money makers’


Jo Booth

and presented on a CD-ROM. The teacher and I had already given the organisation some thought by this point, and encouraged the children to suggest the solution of a linear narrative which we felt would be conceptually appropriate. Recent research (Plowman 1996) has suggested that the fashion for interactivity in a number of educational CD-ROMs might be substituting a superficially attractive interface for serious study; and even though it is quite easy to make non-linear formats we were unconvinced that such a structure would add to our work. Furthermore, the students had learnt about photography through following quite a linear model, building up discrete concepts from studying the different ‘parts’ before moving on to the ‘whole’. We thought it would be easier for them to envisage a teaching pack that reflected this model of the subject rather than get them to imagine the topic from a different perspective. A solution began to evolve in the shape of a narrative comprised of three sections; a classroom, a walk to the Museum and an exhibition at the Museum. This would enable us to include the work produced by the children to date, and articulate ideas about the sites in which photographs are commonly found. As a way of introducing the technical requirements of the task, the children each had the opportunity to experiment using the software HyperStudio, making buttons, and small interactive ‘stacks’. They were then asked to plan the way they would deliver the material to a peer audience in an ‘appealing, useful and clear’ fashion. First responses to this brief included the use of humour, such as some light-hearted ‘pop-up’ prompts. They also felt that the context for each piece of work, the classroom, Museum, etc. should be plausible and have relevance. The classroom, they felt, could house some of their project work to date, such as the ‘lighting’ photographs and the newspaper. They immediately realised that they would need to take some more photographs in order to illustrate the remaining points with the same degree of comprehensive detail. ‘The walk’ considered the types of photographs we would ordinarily expect to see out on the street, and where they might be sited. The list included billboards, bus stops, buses, shop windows and signs. We split the class into four groups, and each group was given responsibility for photographing a different section of the journey and a simple narrative was constructed from these photographs. The children then began making composite photographs on the computer using the image manipulation software Photoshop with the intention of replacing, for example, the billboard adverts with their own work (see Figure 5.7). The gallery, the last section of the CD, was used as a means to show family and personal photographs. Each of the children had been asked to bring in photographs from home, and choose images which they liked, or which they felt were important to them. The gallery was also useful as a structural device, acting as a virtual album or display cabinet where the

A case study in educational publishing


Figure 5.7 Children’s own work ‘decorating’ a bus

students could show some of the more expressive photographs they had taken themselves. Each child had been given the opportunity to take a camera home and photograph their lives, working to the following brief: Photograph

• • •

Something that belongs to you, or is important to you; A member of your family, a family group or friends; A favourite place in the house, or in the area.


• • • • •

Where the photograph would be taken, and what would be in the background; Which viewpoint it would be taken from; Which format (portrait/landscape); What you would include in the photograph; And what you would leave out.

The exhibition, named by the children ‘The Bankfoot Photo Show’, was put together for the CD-ROM using existing shots of one of the installations in the Museum’s galleries. The children used Photoshop to delete the original


Jo Booth

images, and replace the work in the frames with their own. A diverse collection of images was eventually included, each of them accompanied by an audio narrative written and recorded by the children, talking about their images (see Figures 5.8a, b and c). Some of the tasks, mostly those relevant to the final production stages of the CD such as loading up the sound files and resizing the images for screen, were, we felt, too time consuming and laborious to involve the children. The details of the navigation system, the formatting of the files for different platforms, the help pages, the indexing of the colours, the graphic design of the front end and exit, and the making of many of the buttons were all undertaken by adults. Although the children worked on the content of the CD, took all the photographs and helped to devise the contexts in which they would be viewed, most of this final and detailed work was executed by adults. Janet and I attempted to position ourselves and the pupils as the directors of the project, jointly responsible for briefing the developer, in order to preserve the pupils’ sense of ownership. Although we had given them taster sessions related to many of the tasks, we were aware that much of the final workload would be ours. This amount of ‘technical’ work does cast a serious shadow over the ideal of digital publishing by children because they are not able to work independently with the software to complete all the tasks necessary to publish their work on CD-ROM.

Figure 5.8a One of the photographs taken by the children at home

Figure 5.8b One of the photographs taken by the children at home

Figure 5.8c One of the photographs taken by the children at home


Jo Booth


The class teacher felt that the production of the CD had been a useful process and, in general, despite the additional work, that it had been a positive experience for both herself and her children. In particular, she felt that the investment many of the students had made during the first stage of production was more fully realised during the second, when they were given the opportunity to consolidate their ideas. She also thought that the children’s general confidence in their own abilities had improved, due in part to the input they had been able to have into the planning and organisation of the CD, but also because they understood the limitations and potential of the equipment, and which tools they would need in order to realise their plans. One important factor, Janet felt, was that the pupils had begun the project with few expectations. This, she thought, had been a considerable advantage because it had meant that they were optimistic about what they would be able to achieve. For this reason, more of them had been willing to ‘have a go’ at the various tasks and this impacted on the existing hierarchies within the class. Because it was new and exciting, working in digital media had really motivated the class, extending the boundaries of what they thought was achievable. This, she argued, had enabled her pupils to develop their ideas and take responsibility for their own learning beyond the staff ’s and other children’s expectations. Students had scope for individual development and because they were enthusiastic they were willing to experiment. Their enthusiasm affected their commitment to the project and this, in turn, impacted on their levels of achievement. The first stage had facilitated an understanding of some of the concepts surrounding photography and the second stage consolidated it. Furthermore, the project had credibility with the pupils, who could see a parity between this work, and their experience of digital technologies out of school. Janet was pleased that the project had given her the chance to reflect on her own patterns of work, and to use a range of different teaching styles, such as whole-class teaching, small group or individual teaching, explanation and discussion. Working on the CD, she felt, had avoided the ‘pocketing’ of subjects, and enabled her pupils to see some of the links between subjects. It had also, she said, provided a useful bridge between home, school and youth culture through its extensive use of family album photographs and the status which the children’s home lives and experiences had been given throughout the project. She also felt that making the CD had offered an alternative strategy for organising the delivery of many subjects within of the National Curriculum, and had allowed her to link activities across subjects including art, history and geography. Additionally, by engaging work in ‘new’ skills and technologies the project developed ‘traditional’ skills of literacy and numeracy. The teacher and I both recognised that consistency in the pupils’ work would be an issue, when it came to evaluation, because we wanted the finished

A case study in educational publishing


product to be sold to schools nationally. Here there is a direct conflict between the value of the product as an educational experience for its participants and the production values attending published educational material. The class included pupils across the ability range and this, inevitably, was reflected in their work. Most of the images are accompanied by a narrative which has been written and spoken by an individual child and some children’s speech is easier to follow than others. Similarly, the children’s use of the technology and grasp of the concepts varied, and this was reflected in the work they produced. This has led us to question the viability of PhotoWork as a classroom resource because it does not have the uniformity or polish of commercially produced resources. Although software like HyperStudio offers pupils the opportunity to publish for real audiences, the look and feel of children’s work is still very different to material which has been professionally produced for the school market. The role of an adult mediator has been crucial to the development of PhotoWork, but ethical dilemmas have arisen throughout its production concerning the nature of our intervention in the children’s work, especially when we tended to steer them towards solutions which we felt would be commercially appropriate. Janet and I often felt compromised and split between a desire to support the pupils in their own methods of solving problems, and our perceptions regarding the needs of the wider audience. If a commercial publishing house becomes involved in PhotoWork, the children’s work may be compromised further, as the publisher will undoubtedly require an input into the look and feel of the project, in order to secure a marketable resource. A publication date for PhotoWork has not as yet been finalised, and there is still a significant amount of work to be covered prior to its release. One of the tasks is the production of the paper-based notes which are planned to accompany the CD. An extensive round of amendments is also necessary before the CD is ready to be piloted, after which the final changes can be made. PhotoWork has been allowed to grow in scale during its production, and this undoubtedly, has impeded its completion. Had we been working to a tight brief, which included a pre-storyboarded navigation system and a list of assets and illustrative resources, the task would inevitably have been quicker and cheaper. This, however, would have compromised the responsive nature of the project and significantly lessened the pupils’ input and their sense of ownership of the CD—reducing them to the status of contributors rather than authors. The process involved in the making of PhotoWork, and the order in which the various tasks were undertaken was heavily influenced by our desire to facilitate overall production by these children. There have also been technical problems with the use of HyperStudio as an exclusive authoring tool. The program was chosen initially for its ability to work across the platforms of PC, Macintosh and Acorn, its child-friendly design and ease of use. Many of the tasks given to the developer have been


Jo Booth

difficult to realise due to the limitations of the program, and difficulties in using HyperStudio across all of these platforms. Indeed, plans to author the product for use on the Acorn platform have had to be dropped. Young people are certainly able to use multimedia authoring as a means of organising and presenting their own thoughts, ideas and practical work. How effective software such as HyperStudio can be in aiding pupils to disseminate this kind of work to a wider audience remains open to question. Few schools have published the multimedia work of their pupils, or attempted to disseminate it beyond the audience of the class or school. Clearly, doubts remain amongst the teaching profession about the value and usefulness of children’s work as general support material for the delivery of the National Curriculum. Nevertheless, it remains an intriguing ambition: that appropriately organised, digital technology can allow children to publish their work and contribute towards defining the content of the curriculum itself. This opportunity should create the radical possibility of allowing children to become more equal partners in the learning process, but the experience of PhotoWork suggests that this time had not yet come. However, the process of authoring multimedia is a rich and relevant learning experience and, in our opinion, amply repays the extra effort needed to get projects like PhotoWork into the classroom. Reference Plowman, L. (1996) ‘Narrative, interactivity and the secret world of multimedia’ English and Media Magazine, 35, pp. 44–8.

Chapter 6 The NEMA experience Irene Ordidge

Evaluating multimedia made by young people remains problematic. The accounts of making digital art in this book all stress different aims and achievements ranging from the motivational benefits of the process to aesthetic considerations of the product. Whilst a key interest is the nature of students’ learning, defining appropriate criteria to evaluate the hybrid output of multimedia is also important. And, as more and more multimedia and online products become available, so commercial values and considerations come into the picture. This problem is partly due to the fact that multimedia is a new area of work for most teachers and students and that it mainly takes place in cross-curricular spaces, where the traditional assessment criteria of mainstream subjects do not apply. Partly to address this problem but mainly to stimulate multimedia work in schools the National Council for Educational Technology’s (NCET) established the National Educational Multimedia Awards (NEMA). This chapter will describe the history of this competition and some of the entries because the NEMA experience stands as a valuable archive, documenting the variety of early uses of multimedia. It will argue that NEMA helped to define the genre of multimedia for participants in the competition and begin to speculate on criteria which might underpin standards in the field.


From 1992 NCET has been involved in managing and evaluating a number of government initiatives including the evaluation of the use of CD-ROMs in schools and teacher professional development. (In 1998 the NCET became the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, BECTA, in order to develop the National Grid for Learning.) In the early 1990s almost all secondary schools had at least one computer with a CDROM drive and at least 60 per cent of primary schools had a multimedia workstation as did all initial teacher education institutions. Accessing multimedia CD-ROMs enables pupils to find information and thereby develop a range of information-handling skills. Indeed being able to handle


Irene Ordidge

information is a key part of IT capabilities as defined by the National Curriculum. NCET was initially interested in the development of information-handling skills following the establishment of multimedia workstations in schools. How would pupils develop the skills to find information from the vast encyclopaedic databases being offered to them? How would they assess the significance of the material that they retrieved from a large number of information resources? How would pupils develop research skills to enable them to find, analyse and present the information that they had retrieved? Whilst this focus provided an initial impetus, the growing availability of a range of accessible multimedia authoring software turned attention away from simply accessing information to the possibility of creating multimedia. Many of the multimedia workstations in schools—initially purchased to develop information handing—could just as easily facilitate multimedia authoring with the addition of a suitable software package. The activity changed from information gathering to creating information and presenting ideas. This required a different skill set. Pupils were now being asked to select the medium for the message and use a combination of sound, text and picture to present their ideas. There is currently scope in the National Curriculum for accommodating these activities in a range of curriculum areas. Pupils are required to produce information in a variety of genres, for specified audiences and to provide evidence that they understand particular topics. For the creative teacher, multimedia authoring offered pupils an exciting and creative opportunity to present their ideas. The contemporary growth of an interactive multimedia industry in the UK, especially the developing educational software industry, also suggested that multimedia authoring might open a number of vocational, or pre-vocational, opportunities for young people. A number of subjects from design and technology to business studies allowed for the study and use of multimedia, particularly for students aged over 16. The competition pretext

In 1993, NCET raised sponsorship and prizes from a number of multimedia companies to establish the first National Educational Multimedia Awards (NEMA). NEMA ran for the following four years (with a one-year break). Prizes offered included multimedia desktop machines, a portable computer and a wide variety of CD-ROM and software titles. The industry jointly offered over £20,000 worth of prizes to support and promote the awards. NEMA was initially set up, almost as a research and development project, to gain an insight into the take-up of multimedia authoring activity in schools. As the UK currently has approximately 25,000 schools, finding out about the use of a specific generic type of software would need an imaginative and high-profile approach. The competition was obviously a crude but exciting mechanism to kick-start and co-ordinate multimedia authoring. As entry is

The NEMA experience


voluntary it is obviously not a reliable research tool, but it does give a flavour or snap-shot of the state of the art. One advantage of a competition in this context is that the structure of the competition provides an audience and multimedia authoring needs to be tested by ‘real’ users. The awards then, were perceived to be an opportunity to see into classrooms and experience what was happening in particular schools across the UK. They created the scenario which enabled NCET to gather evidence to assess the need for future support for teachers in this area of activity. The stated aims of NEMA were threefold: • to encourage young learners to develop the skills to use multimedia to communicate their ideas; • to raise teachers’ awareness of the educational possibilities offered by multimedia; • to identify geographical areas of high activity. The first awards were judged in the spring of 1994. NCET subsequently began to establish the evidence base about which curriculum areas were most amenable for developing multimedia authoring and whether the activity was integrated into classroom work or taking place in out-of-hours computer clubs. Much of the evidence suggested that while the primary timetable allowed for the creation of multimedia presentations in the classroom, at secondary level out-of-school activities and computer clubs played an increasing role in making time available. The boundaries surrounding traditional subjects in the timetable at this level seemed to militate against multimedia projects. Patterns of entry

The competition was publicised through direct mailings, advertisements and NCET and LEA educational networks. Fliers were mailed to UK schools announcing the awards and giving details of the entry pack. Part of the attraction of the awards was that they were sponsored by a wide range of hardware and software manufacturers donating cash and prizes. This made NEMA attractive to schools that were moving into multimedia and wanting to add to their resource base—although a certain level of equipment was needed to be able to make an entry. Anecdotal evidence (from telephone enquiries and conversations with entrants at the awards ceremony) suggested that many schools appeared to value the creation of an outlet or showcase for their new ventures as well as the opportunity to submit entries for comment. During the first year there were 800 enquiries for the competition entry pack. The final number of entries was 82—a 10 per cent return on enquiries.


Irene Ordidge

In the second year the enquiries increased to around 1,200 with a similar conversion rate producing 110 entries and the spread of activity across the UK was broader than the previous year. In general, enquiries were from a wide cross-section of schools and LEAs. The awards promoted a disproportionately high level of interest from special schools, many of which produced very high quality entries. In the first year three areas emerged as hotspots of activity, most noticeably South Glamorgan, Hampshire and Surrey where activity was often stimulated by an active and able LEA support service. South Glamorgan submitted around twelve entries, collected from local schools, on a CD-ROM. This kind of variation echoes a general pattern of ICT activity— that confident and enthusiastic individuals are significantly responsible for exciting use. The geographical coverage increased significantly in the second year; and by year three over half the LEAs were involved with three or more entries from at least sixteen of the areas. For the foreseeable future it is difficult to visualise there being a dramatic move in the structure of the school day in either primary or secondary school. The primary school day offers the greatest flexibility for teachers in terms of creating multimedia. There have been entries, for example Bones from Northgate School, where the teacher has taken the opportunity to focus activities across the curriculum into the multimedia presentation. Bones comprised photographs from physical education lessons, poems from English, skeletons from science and computer art joined together around a theme supported by BBC Key Stage 2 science broadcasts. Each year the entries were grouped into slightly different age ranges to try to find a balance of numbers of entries across the groups. It was noticeable that the largest number of entries were coming from the 8–11 age range (i.e. Key Stage 2) and in the third year the 11-year-olds were kept together as a group to ensure a level of fairness in the judging process (see Figure 6.1). It became clear during the second year that there were still considerable numbers of teachers who were interested in the idea of pupils presenting their ideas as multimedia materials but they needed further stimulus or support. To promote the third year of NEMA a CD-ROM was created comprising clips from the award-winning entries from the first two years of NEMA. The CD-ROM included a commentary with each entry which highlighted particular features noticed by the judges. NCET believe that by circulating this disk as a professional development resource, an increasing number of schools were able to begin activity in this area. NEMA 96 was the third year of the competition. The CD-ROM start-up pack was distributed on request to schools and support providers who were involved in multimedia authoring. Three thousand CD-ROMs were distributed across the UK many being used to provide staff development through LEA centres or in school and college. At this stage and with this scale of operation, it is fair to say that NEMA was beginning to define entry-level standards for multimedia produced by young people. The competition was showing

The NEMA experience


Figure 6.1 1995: NEMA entries by age group

examples of what different aged students might be able to achieve and so set targets for newcomers to the field. On completion clips from the award winning entries from NEMA 96 were displayed on NCETs web site ( Evaluation criteria

To offer support and guidance to prospective entrants the publicity in the competition booklets has included tips for creating multimedia. These were formulated from comments from the judges and formed the basis of the judging criteria. The statements below present these comments in the form of tips for creating multimedia. The publicity made it clear from the start that these areas would be significant in the judging process. • Choose a balanced team of people who can make different contributions. Look for a good writer, artist, photographer/video camera operator, sound engineer, designer to advise on screen layout, colour and fonts and a good navigator to design routes through the information. • Plan something manageable, one small complete program is better than a half-finished huge one.


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• If you are thinking of including video consider what it adds. Does it show more than a photograph or a series of photographs and some appropriate sounds? • Multimedia should be a balance of still and/or moving images, text and sound. Too much text can easily distort the balance. • Check that colour combinations and font sizes on screen are comfortable for users: very bright, contrasting colours and small fonts can be tiring to view. • For ease of use make sure screen layouts are consistent when using icons, buttons and other design features. • Put the user in control by allowing different routes through the information. Make sure users can go backwards as well as forwards and can break into audio and video sequences. • Use visual and/or written menus to link screens and structure information. • Hot text links give the user access to additional information on request. • Test the program regularly yourself and ask other people to test it while you still have time available to amend it. These ‘criteria’ are of course only recommendations and are, on the whole, highly practical. A key concern is to try to get the authors to see their product as a disinterested user might view it for the first time. From this point of view the aesthetic values these criteria promote are conventional but they are not prescriptive. Behind much of this advice lies the voice of experience, trying to warn students away from over-elaborate, over-ambitious projects. On the other hand these criteria do not try to steer teachers towards any particular model of teaching and learning and in this respect they do not explicitly support first-time authors. They provide an open framework, which is clearly helpful for experienced competitors: first-time users still have to launch themselves into the void. A further issue is that these criteria do not engage with questions of students’ learning and they do not suggest mechanisms by which the process of authoring can be seen to be the object of the exercise. Quite properly for a competition they address the product; however, for many teachers it is the process of multimedia authoring which appeals and offers new opportunities for structuring their work. On the other hand, building an account of process into the assessment is problematic and time consuming. Many of the participating schools, which have had pupils creating multimedia in groups, have valued the discussion and negotiation that goes on during the development. There have been cases reported to NCET of this kind of group work enabling a number of pupils to offer skills previously unused and, in that way, develop self-esteem and motivation. For the judges the joint authorship is not an issue if the group is of a similar age. There

The NEMA experience


have been one or two occasions where the age group was mixed and the judging has reflected expectations of the higher age group. One particular problem—delimiting the work of adults from the work of students—remains a key concern. When children are creating multimedia what is an acceptable level of adult intervention? This is clearly a concern in general but particularly within the context of a competition; and NCET asked teachers to indicate the level of intervention that they believed had been operating on their NEMA entry forms. Experience from meeting pupils who had made contributions soon convinced us that many children as young as six were competently carrying out a string of tasks, as, for example, when we listened to them making sound recordings during a demonstration. On the other hand, this issue is difficult for the judges. The entries: metaphors and genres

Entries to NEMA were many and varied. The first problem entrants have is choosing a genre. As there were few examples of multimedia for students to imitate it is not surprising that interactive school prospectuses and traditional fighting games dominated the types of product submitted: reflecting, perhaps, teacher and student interests, respectively. On the other hand, the multimedia folk tales, imaginative approaches to the pronunciation of French, Ancient Greek and Japanese and a fresh look at school outings, traditional customs and religions demonstrated an innovative re-working of traditional genres. Entries covered curriculum areas including science, languages, art and music with about a fifty-fifty split between fiction and non-fiction. The second choice entrants had to make was what kind interactive structure to use. Here it is helpful to think in terms of metaphors. Did the entrants visualise their work as a kind of ‘book’ or ‘game’ or what? In general, entrants used metaphor s which ref lected their experience of commercial encyclopaedia-style CD-ROMs, while other entries built on a book metaphor and made the pages increasingly interactive. As students have had wider and broader experiences of a range of interactive multimedia over the years, so this depth of experience has been reflected in the forms and genres of the entries. We can expect that as even more students now have access to multimedia, it will inform how they imagine and design products themselves. On the other hand judges have commented that creativity was often at its best in the lower age groups. In some cases ideas expressed by children as young as six showed their ability to operate in a range of media without being tied down to established metaphors or imitating conventional genres. Schools approached the NEMA awards with a wide variety of ideas and resources. Pupils included photographs, computer art and scanned handdrawn pictures. In the third year there was a shift to include animation. This


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is a feature of the more sophisticated but easy to use software being used by often very young children. Multimedia for storytelling

Each year a considerable number of entries delivered examples of the use of multimedia for telling stories. Images were either used as illustrations to text or voice-over narratives but also showed the use of continuity editing devices —from film—to construct the process of storytelling. For example, Welsh folk tales were captured as sound files, illustrated in wax crayon or computer art and supported by onscreen text to deliver their message. The sound of school playtime was recorded and used to enhance battle scenes (see Figure 6.2). On the other hand photographs captured by digital camera illustrated six stories, titled ‘I Wish’, by individual children who used multimedia to show how they fulfilled their wishes, including ‘going under the Thames’. A group of teenagers from a special school created a delightful space adventure which started in their school. The pupils superimposed graphics on to photographs to create a set of imaginative screens including one with a space ship in the school grounds.

Figure 6.2 Graphic from Harry Morgan

The NEMA experience


The 7-year-olds at Rowdown Infant School had a wonderful time creating the story of ‘The Grumpy Spider’. Only the imagination of such young children could encapsulate a postman, a ballerina, a lobster and a spider who became extremely unpleasant after drinking a dangerous concoction in one tale. The graphics were very cleverly created with animations which retained an adult use of perspective. The spider swinging about the loft and letters flying from the post box were a delight (see figure 6.3). Multimedia for presenting facts

The non-fiction entries presented a diverse and interesting group. The use of images and animation to tell narratives were equally prominent. The ‘Entrance Design Project’ documented the reconstruction of Hempshill Hall School’s entrance capturing on camera the early decision-making processes, personnel working on the project and the steady progress. Screen design enabled text and images to complement each other. Hempshill Hall School used the successful format the next year to produce a ‘Guide to Percussion’ as the start of a music resource. A third year entry by Grove Junior School took an imaginative approach to help pupils to pronounce difficult names in Greek legends. Delightful computer graphics

Figure 6.3 The Grumpy Spider


Irene Ordidge

Figure 6.4 The Boar of Erymanthus

supported by text carried the storyline while sound files were attached to aid pronunciation (see Figure 6.4). Meadowbank Special School developed a learning tool for the class about the seasons. The screen layout with trees, flowers and animals stayed consistent as the colours and shapes changed according to the season. The authors only ‘allowed’ users to progress through the seasons in the appropriate order. Multimedia games

Two professional-looking traditional armed combat games were entered over the course of the competition, one including a budgeting section to show the cost of combat. By contrast some of the younger children created ‘Attack of the Blobs’, about an alien landing and ‘Mad Mansion’ which was full of surprises en route to the Library (see Figure 6.5). A group of older girls attempted a ‘whodunit?’ murder in their school using staff photographs interspersed with interesting room designs. Here hypertext narratives have been altered to accommodate the children’s ambitions to make playable games.

The NEMA experience


Figure 6.5 Attack of the Blobs

Continuity of entries

Although over the three years most of the schools were first-time entrants, it was interesting to watch the changes in presentation of the small number of schools who entered the competition more than once. Southfield School for Girls

Southfield Girls School entered an amusing and competent school prospectus for NEMA 94. Sound clips from a sixth former and some of the teachers plus a cartoon sheep which seemed to appear in some of the classrooms gave a boost to the simple interactive map of the school without being distracting. The entry was mainly black-and-white pages with some photographs and a few simple drawings. For the second year the school worked on a murder game which took place on the school premises. This entry also won an award for its creative mix of competent graphics and photographs. The entry was imaginative and colourful with well-designed rooms and clues were hidden throughout the screens. ‘Kaboom!’ the entry for NEMA 96 was given a Commendation. The girls had made a decision to take a great leap forward and go for a bright,


Irene Ordidge

multicoloured, multimedia teenage girls’ magazine, an entry which at the time was breaking new ground. The school seemed to have become more confident in its approach to multimedia design and the girls were becoming increasingly creative exploring different multimedia metaphors. These three entries show control of the content moving from teachers to students and a willingness to experiment in this new cultural form. Burley Middle School

There was a similar shift towards the students having greater artistic control at this school. The first entry from Burley Middle School was a great success with the judges. ‘Rudolph et Père Noël’, was an imaginative and well-illustrated composition containing clear French pronunciations and a linked dictionary to aid translation. The second entry from Burley has caused resounding laughter at its numerous showings. The storyline started life as a rap in Yorkshire dialect written as part of the school’s music curriculum. The girls who created it saw its potential and sought help to transform the rap into a fully fledged multimedia production. The result was a talking book containing detailed drawings—mainly of a row of small terraced houses—with an amusing array of activities exposed by sound files. Judging NEMA

Pupils have proved that almost any topic can be developed into a multimedia presentation. The variety and quality of the entries has been stunning. One of the problems with collecting evidence in this way means that some schools see themselves as winners or losers. Judging the NEMA Awards to find winners was always an interesting and often difficult task. Interesting content has a place, but it is the added value that multimedia gives which wins the points. It was often necessary to remind ourselves that stories are generally more fun than facts and we have considered and decided against judging in categories such as fiction and non-fiction. Schools need to review the purpose of their presentation: it may be factual to inform new pupils or parents, it may be a learning resource for peers or other groups in the school. It does not need to win a NEMA Award to be good, NCET was using the awards to stimulate activity and raise awareness and competence. It is clear that the ICT literacy of a school is still often driven by the enthusiasts. The concern is that good NEMA entries may be being driven by even more specialist teachers; NEMA does not prove that good entries indicate widespread ICT practice across a school. Whilst the overall patterns of entry show encouraging growth (and bearing in mind that NEMA is still only a competition) NCET do not really get the impression that multimedia is an experience all children will have during their education. On the other hand, it is clear that those teachers and students who are using multimedia

The NEMA experience


for creative purposes would benefit from more opportunities to share their experiences and find common ways to discuss the burgeoning ‘art of multimedia’ as well as what it offers children’s learning. The curriculum needs to be used inventively to facilitate multimedia projects, which, although complex, are clearly deeply rewarding and meaningful for their makers. Making this case has been NEMA’s salient achievement.

Chapter 7 Roath Village Web The Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook Sue Williams

Many of the projects described in this book were well resourced. They had separate budgets and were often taught by specialists. This chapter describes the growth of an ambitious online project mapping a sense of community in a part of Cardiff. It details what is possible in ‘average’ classrooms with limited resources. At the same time it recounts the slightly unusual story of how one teacher sees the potential of multimedia and developments in online media, and how such developments might offer new opportunities for working creatively with young people in education.


The Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook took place in July 1997 and was stage one in a community web-site project called Roath Village Web. The Scrapbook involved a class of twenty-six 10- and 11-year-olds making a web site about their final-year experiences at the school. The themes that emerged from the initial project were: 1 the importance of teachers’ perceptions of children’s ICT knowledge and competence; 2 the significance of a school’s resources relative to how they are used; 3 the positioning of ICT in the curriculum, whether the computer is placed centrally in the learning experience or is perceived as simply an add on. What we learned helped in developing a framework for the larger project, Roath Village Web, in which three primary schools and groups from the community are working together to develop a web site which explores and records local history.

An Online School Scrapbook


Background to Roath Village Web Project

In 1995, 1 was teaching English in an 11–18 comprehensive school in Wales and came upon the Internet almost by accident. I was immediately taken with its potential to support teaching and learning in the classroom and as an English teacher was most interested in the opportunities the Internet presents for publication and communication. My school wasn’t online at that time and plans to get connected had been placed in the hands of the technologists. They had set up a working party. I couldn’t wait. I had seen something that excited me as a teacher and as an English teacher it looked as though I was to be excluded. I set up HyperAction ( in December 1996. I wanted to develop a model for an ‘IT-I-E’ (IT in Education) company which would work in a similar way to a TIE (Theatre in Education) company—in other words, on a peripatetic basis, developing special projects in partnership with schools, giving pupils the chance to participate in ICT activities that would not be part of their normal everyday school experience, such as developing web sites, multimedia presentations and using email for information-exchange projects. These projects are developed to support ongoing classroom activities and are linked to appropriate National Curriculum themes. Parish mapping

In the 1980s, the environmental charity, Common Ground, ran a project to help mainly r ural communities record their local distinctiveness by encouraging people to work together to make new parish maps. The maps did not simply chart the actual physical landscape but focused instead on the emotional and cultural landscapes at the heart of each community. Maps have been made in many different media—using drawings, photographs, creative writing, tapestries, even flowers. In making a map, the community develops a much stronger sense of itself, identifies and celebrates uniqueness of place and is then often motivated to preserve its local distinctiveness. From this perspective a community is more than an actual geographical location, it is an inheritance, a collection of attitudes and experiences, memories and associations and a series of on-going dynamic processes. To express this, we need to find a way of layering personal histories onto a representation of the actual, physical landscape, or townscape, while simultaneously recording the historical processes and sociological changes that are inherent in any settled place. Multimedia can do this. A web site is a multidimensional expression of ideas, a non-linear narrative, which allows movement in time and geographical space between images and text. As a means of parish mapping, a web site gives us a way of expressing, charting, recording, giving voice to the abstract


Sue Williams

and ephemeral jumble of personal experiences that make up community while at the same time creating an opportunity for dialogue. The aim of Roath Village Web is to help an urban community make use of new multimedia technology to explore and record its own unique identity in the form of a web site. Marlborough Road Junior and Infants School

Amongst all this, the original idea for Roath Village Web had the very simplest of roots: three generations of my family attended the same school, Marlborough Road Junior and Infants, between 1929 and 1997. It struck me that a web site would be a fitting way of recording events which were at once historically distanced but involved similar personal experiences. For example, it is likely that each of us felt very much the same, standing on the same steps to go into the same school on three September days over the past sixty-eight years. In March 1997, HyperAction proposed a six-week web development project based at Marlborough Road School which focused on local history. In the 1980s, John Evans, headteacher at Marlborough, had helped pioneer another electronic medium when he had been involved in the Schools’ Teletext Project so he was also interested in developing the potential of a new medium. He was already online, having connected up the 486 in his office to BT CampusWorld some months previously. It had gone no further than that. As ever, time, teachers’ confidence and financial constraints had stalled the initiative. John himself admitted to spending as much time on the phone to the BT helpline as he did exploring the Internet’s educational potential but he was still interested in finding ways of engaging the interest of others both in school and out. A web site that linked the history of the school with the history of Roath would help achieve this and, coincidentally, Marlborough Road School marks its centenary in 1999. Celebrating this with a digital record seemed an appropriate way of looking to the future of schooling as well as its past. There was apparently no funding available for this sort of project in Cardiff. Both the school and HyperAction worked on various fund-raising initiatives but the project was declared not art (by the flinders of arts projects), nor was it a technology project (so said those funding projects to involve people in new technology): there wasn’t any more money for education (there isn’t; in Cardiff they’re closing libraries), and our idea seemed to have nothing to do with economic or community development. The school eventually agreed to fund a week-long web-development project itself. It would at least help in our efforts to show possible future funders the thinking behind the project when, at present, they themselves might have only the haziest grasp of the medium’s potential.

Plate I Licinia working with Photoshop

Plate II Dave Lewis working with a small group

Plate III Fred sticking down photographs

Plate IV Fiona Bailey working with whole class Plates I – XII are from the Rosendale Odyssey multimedia project

Plate V Mitchell: ‘and it’s snowing’

Plate VI Tabasom’s welcome home page

Plate VII Annabelle explains how digital art works

Plate VIII Adil compares himself and his father

Plate IX Eliot’s page

Plate X Alex uses drawings and photographs

Plate XI Mark’s page mixing photographs and drawing

Plate XII Yudhistra’s page

Plate XIII Asleep Plates XIII – XVI are from the Glebe B7ig Breakfast project

Plates XIV and XV Posters advertising healthy breakfasts

Plate XVI Poster advertising a healthy breakfast

An Online School Scrapbook


The Online School Scrapbook (July 1997)

In terms of process, content and outcome, the Online School Scrapbook was planned as the first part of a much larger project. The children who were about to move on to secondary school would record and present their memories of the school in the form of a web site. The work was planned with a whole class so we could test what was actually achievable in a classroom situation with the available resources. Marlborough Road School has approximately 350 pupils. They have one computer in each classroom and these include a 386, 486 and one RM 586. Only one PC runs Windows 95, the others operate on Windows 3.1. CD-ROMs are bought on the recommendation of the LEA Advisory Service who publish a list of approved titles. The software that was actually installed on the machines however seemed to suggest more of an ad hoc approach. While one machine boasted Corel Draw, another machine’s only art package was the Paint tool in Accessories! This and the fact that all the machines had viruses suggested that there wasn’t an effective computer management policy in the school. For the duration of the project, we made use of all the computers on the ground floor of the school and took over the photocopying room. One boy was able to bring in two 386 portables from home and his dad lent us his digital camera (but it broke!) I had my 75 MHz Pentium at home with a hand-held scanner. We selected software on the principle that it was cheap enough for the school to buy, that it did a professional job, that it was easy enough for the children to learn how to use quickly and that it was compatible with programs the school already had. We therefore used Notepad and Paint (Accessories), Publisher, Micrografix Draw and Photo Magic, PaintShop Pro (download), GIF Animator (download) and a beta version of Microsoft FrontPage. Angela Lepore, deputy head of Marlborough Road School was also acting ICT co-ordinator so it was appropriate that I should work with her class, a year 6. There were twenty-six in all; one girl who had been withdrawn to a special needs group also rejoined the class for the project. Introducing the project

The first session focused on the children’s own ICT experiences which varied greatly. Fifteen out of twenty-six said that there was a computer in their home. Of those that didn’t have home access, the school experience ranged from ‘I use a computer every day in school’ to once about every three weeks, ‘when it’s my turn’. Some of their technical knowledge was astonishing—some way in advance of their teachers. In response to questions focusing on their understanding of the Internet, one boy explained, ‘You need a modem to help your computer


Sue Williams

talk to another computer. A modem changes a computer’s information into sound so that it can be sent by a telephone to another computer.’ The same question in the staff-room brought blank looks. But there was also uncertainty and some mythologising about what the Net was and could do. In response to the questions, ‘What is the Internet? How can it help you?’ the children’s answers were varied: It’s part of a computer. It’s a program. It’s a connection. It’s a thing that lots of people talk about. It helps you meet new people. It’s like a big newspaper. It’s a collection of information from all over the world. It’s an encyclopaedia. It’s a good way of making friends. It can help you see how people in other countries live. It’s a massive book that keeps on expanding. [And finally] It is something that is very interesting. In the main, they had read about it and watched TV programmes about it but few had used it. Most knowledge had been acquired from secondary sources—children’s TV programmes and magazines, for example—rather than first-hand experience and this knowledge had been further skewed by the additional hype that went on in the playground when the one or two people in the class who did have access at home related their surfing triumphs from the night before! The next stage was to present and discuss with them the idea of the class creating its own web site. I explained how I was collecting memories of children who had attended Marlborough Road School and why I was doing it and suggested that they could collect together their own memories and publish these as a web site. They immediately understood that in creating a web site their work would be available to a wide audience. They also sensed that they would be doing something significant, in that they had heard and seen ‘the Internet’ and ‘the World Wide Web’ being described by others, and in the media, as something new and exciting. Planning the project

Once I had established the idea of a scrapbook, they immediately started discussing content in terms of the sections we would create and, more importantly, how these sections would be linked together. They also used specific jargon appropriately and with confidence. For example, they knew a navigational aid was required and they assigned the

An Online School Scrapbook


task of designing icons for a navigation bar to the class cartoonist, Chris (see Figure 7.1) We planned the sections and how they would connect by simply pinning pages to the wall and linking them (with drawing pins and strands of wool) so that the whole class was able to gain an understanding of, and contribute to, this construction stage of the developing web site. The class was divided into groups of five—all had access to their own computer. Within the framework that the class had agreed, they now had control over the content and presentation. One group took responsibility for ‘Days Out’, another for ‘Best Work’, another for ‘Our Teachers’ and so on. They also had an opportunity to consider how their work would be connected within the overall structure and used postcards to represent individual screens when planning each section. Again, as individual pages were designed, they were printed out and pinned to the wall to show the whole class how the site was developing and invite critical evaluation from others. With their specific areas of responsibility, the groups ‘commissioned’ content from each other. There was a range of different writing tasks undertaken—reports, interviews, descriptive writing, personal narratives, diary entries, even poetry had their place in the section ‘Our Best Work’. My concern as a teacher was to ensure both quality of outcome and equality of input. The page, ‘Meet Class Three’, was designed so that every child in the class contributed something (see Figure 7.2). Even the less able and least confident were able to write their outstanding school memory and have their own hyperlink within the web site. They could share in the sense of real audience and also gain confidence by being part of the wider class achievement (see Figures 7.3 and 7.4). One person from each group squeezed into the head’s office to explore the World Wide Web for themselves. We visited a number of web sites and looked critically at their design. We looked at the effect of colour of fonts and backgrounds and compared framed and non-framed pages. We focused on the use of images and learned how file size affected download time. We looked at pages with animations and sound.

Figure 7.1 The navigation bar


Sue Williams

With these experiences, I worked with a number of individuals on the design of specific pages. For example Scott and Chris used GIF Animator to create a ‘flick book’ animation of the headteacher (see Figure 7.5). Similarly, Biyun saw the potential for the visitor to interact with a web site and so created the pages that focused on their Headteacher’s likeness to John Cleese (see Figure 7.6). Most of the ICT skills employed in the course of the project were general —inputting text, cut and paste, on-screen manipulation of objects, use of layout frames and so on. However, some children were also given the opportunity to look more closely at simpler techniques specific to multimedia design, such as creating backgrounds, image maps and hot spots and hypertext links. Some pages were created using Publisher and, without a scanner in school, the children’s love of clip art (in their view ‘better’ than anything they could produce themselves) dominated. In five frantic days, the children had created a web site of thirty pages—The Online School Scrapbook (see Figure 7.7).

Figure 7.2 Screen shot: meet Class 3

An Online School Scrapbook



As part of an evaluation at the end of the project, the children talked and wrote about it. Many admitted that before this intensive week of hands-on ICT, they had not been at all confident about using computers and they expressed frustration at how slow they were and how often things went wrong because they hadn’t understood what they were doing—comments very similar to those of their teachers. There was a real pride in the fact that we had ‘put Marlborough on the web’ and ‘made Marlborough famous’ and the sense of real audience and purpose had been an important motivation in their work. Their expectation was that this was a continuing process not a finished thing; they were excited about the prospect of going to secondary school and continuing to contribute to the World Wide Web rather than to just take from it. They wanted to be able to access their old school site and to keep in touch with each other. Sadly this is likely to be a false expectation. In reality, none of the secondary schools the children were going to—this primary school feeds six —had their own web site to link to. It is also likely that the secondary schools’

Figure 7.3 Screen shot: our memories

Figure 7.4 Screen shot: Charlotte’s page

Figure 7.5 Screen shots showing Mr Evans’ progress

Figure 7.6 ‘Spot the likeness’ page

Figure 7.7


Sue Williams

Internet access would be through a stand-alone machine in the library only available to the Sixth Form. Angela Lepore, the class teacher, who was used to working to the model of one PC in the corner accessed by two or three children at a time, was struck by how genuinely collaborative an ICT project could be. This was technology they could all share in. She wrote: My expectation was that the high flyers in the class would really take charge and shine. What I didn’t expect was that the quiet average children would also become so involved, became experts and be empowered by it. Children with very limited skills, the special needs children, the severe dyslexic who had barely written anything and had no confidence in his ability to communicate through writing, got equally as much out of it and put as much in. In creating something that was so professional, they gained a great deal of confidence about themselves. They knew they had something worth contributing on a global platform and their attitude to school and their enthusiasm for coming into school altered considerably. They were constantly talking about it, bringing things in, parents were calling in to talk about it, to lend something…. It was one of those school events they will remember throughout their lives. I was struck by the children’s grasp of the medium and their ability to conceive of a publication that was multidimensional. It confirmed for me the importance of creating opportunities for young people to access multimedia and to apply it as a means of exploring and expressing their ideas. I tried to ensure the widest involvement in the project at all stages. However, the children’s productivity, in terms of generating content, meant that not enough time could be given to design. In a whole-school context, the project offered up a positive model of the use of ICT as a learning tool and also raised wider awareness of the Internet as a classroom resource. It didn’t resolve in the short term the issues that all schools face: hardware, cabling, training, time and money. Conclusion

Non-specialist teachers have to feel that the enormous effort that’s involved in creating ICT experiences for children is worthwhile, that use of the computer in the classroom is supporting, not replacing, other curricular activities. Poor resourcing, pressure of time, lack of basic skills training, the perception that children have far greater knowledge and ability in this area than they do—all contribute to the feeling that it is easier, at best, to

An Online School Scrapbook


let the children teach themselves and, at worst, to keep the computer in the cupboard. Adults tend to capitulate to what they perceive to be children’s superior knowledge of computing. Actually the advantage children have over adults as far as ICT goes is the same as they have over adults generally, which is simply a wild confidence untutored by experience and absolutely no sense of danger. In the same way they cross roads without looking, they also press buttons adults wouldn’t dare press. They do not worry about breaking things, about paying for replacements, about losing information or crashing programs; their actions really have no consequence. They do not fear the machine. They have grown up with the machine. They do not worry about how it works, only what it can do. Teachers’ perceptions of children’s ICT knowledge and competence

First, we should set aside assumptions about pupils’ knowledge and competence and try to discover what they actually do know and can do. The perception of children as highly skilled operators and sophisticated users of ICT is flawed. Their use of jargon with apparent ease can be intimidating or misleading for teachers whose culture is different. Children who have access to the new breed of home super computer—usually far superior to anything they are using in school—are learning by doing things that interest them almost every night and they represent an extraordinary bank of ICT skills and knowledge. However, those who do not have access at home will not be gaining the same experiences through their use of computers in the classroom and, most important of all, neither group will be using or refining their skills in a purposeful way unless we give them their direction. Resources

Second, there is no point in either trying to keep abreast of developments in hardware at the rate that hardware is developing or in suggesting that schools will always be disadvantaged by their lack of hardware resources. Kit is not as important as skills and skills aren’t as important as attitude. Bad experiences based on lack of knowledge can be frustrating to an individual classroom teacher who is willing to employ the machine to meet wider curriculum aims but is then thwarted by something quite trivial. In the absence of networks and network managers, teachers need training to increase confidence in key skill areas of computer management. A good, practical, ICT policy in a school which addresses the trivial as much as the grand will help. The ICT co-ordinator at Marlborough Road School describes how she is often summoned to a classroom by a teacher in a panic to fix a recalcitrant


Sue Williams

computer which has ‘crashed’, only to discover that in fact the ink has run out in the printer or a sheet of paper is jammed. ‘My technical prowess’, she admits, ‘lies in being able to give jammed paper a little tug or to stick a monitor lead more tightly into the back.’ My own ICT confidence and later competence developed from using computers in an office environment before I went into teaching. I learned what I needed to learn because I had tasks I wanted to do more efficiently or to a higher standard. Not many teachers have the same opportunity. I apply the ‘language through experience’ approach of English teaching to the teaching of ICT. Children refine or develop ICT skills because they want to achieve a goal which itself excites and stimulates them. Again, not many teachers get to do this for themselves. The positioning of ICT in the curriculum

Finally, teachers need a curriculum which places ICT at the heart of the learning experience. All too often, the cross-curricular approach to ICT means that, for example, in English, after writing a story a child types it up and prints it out; or, in Science, having conducted an experiment, they use the computer to produce a graph. This suggests that ICT requires a distinct body of skills that must be acquired and applied separately and establishes ICT as an add-on to the main learning taking place. Multimedia technologies, web authoring and the use of the Internet for research and communication make the computer the environment in which the learning is taking place.

Chapter 8 Translocations From media to multimedia education Andrew Jones

The chapter describes a collaborative multimedia project between a West London sixth form college and two multimedia artists at A-level Media Studies. The project developed an interactive multimedia installation and an experimental web site exploring issues of ethnicity, culture and identity on the web. The chapter raises a number of questions about the ways young people imagine and articulate multimedia design as well as considering how the new media might offer changing opportunities for self-expression. The chapter focuses in detail on the designs and written evaluations of three of the participating students.


Translocations at St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in West London is a collaborative multimedia project with the Photographers’ Gallery funded by North Kensington City Challenge through North Kensington Arts. It has enabled young people to work closely with the multimedia artists Estella Rushaija, and Derek Richards (from Displaced Data) to create an interactive multimedia installation and an experimental web site exploring issues of identity, hybridity and culture on the World Wide Web. The students used the technology to explore their own lives and interests in the context of the culturally diverse area in which they are growing up. Using digitally manipulated video, photography, text and music, the students have been constructing an interactive installation for the Portobello Festival 1998, local to the college, and the Photographers’ Gallery in London’s Covent Garden. The web site has been developed to communicate and collaborate with other young people locally, nationally and internationally, experimenting with an online exchange of ideas, images and sounds. At the time of writing the project is in post-production, being debugged, proof-read, copied and prepared for online and gallery exhibition. Meanwhile the students are carefully drafting their summative evaluations for A-level media studies assessment and this chapter has evolved very much as an account of ‘work in progress’.


Andrew Jones

Practical production in media studies at St Charles has come to include video, photography, DTP, audio, design and some digital imaging. Most of our production projects have tended to focus upon issues and debates across media, culture and society and have drawn explicitly on the interests and backgrounds of the students. ‘Relevance’ is a key principle of course delivery, rooted in a cultural studies tradition. Currently, we are tending toward a model of media production which sets up ‘real’ project briefs to produce media artefacts for real audiences, distributed through the college, local libraries and information centres, professional and community centres, galleries and cable TV stations—a model of media education and study which is focused on cultural practice and intervention. Written formative and summative evaluations are used to help students reflect on this process, as are research seminars, tutorials, storyboards, web-site planners, taped discussions, sample testing and heated argument—all of which were incorporated into the project. Through the combination of ‘real’ projects and evaluation a critical understanding of media production, institutions, distribution and exhibition can be achieved. The challenge for media education is how to integrate the ‘new’ media (multimedia) into this model of teaching and learning given the fact that new media play different roles in young people’s lives in comparison with TV, film and so on, and equally that the opportunities for production and distribution of new media are currently less accessible than the dominant media forms. Select all, set-up, define styles…

In October 1996, North Kensington Arts Forum (NKA) approached the Media Studies subject area at St Charles to develop a multimedia design project with the artists, Displaced Data, who were then exhibiting their Translocations show at the Photographers’ Gallery. Having enjoyed successful projects with NKA before, we accepted and attended initial meetings. Andrew Duncan (NKA), Fiona Bailey (Photographers’ Gallery), Derek Richards (Displaced Data), Paul Jones (St Charles College) and myself discussed the project’s constraints (a group of twelve to fifteen students, a timescale of six months), the outcomes of the project and the integration of Derek as an ‘artist in residence’ at the College for the duration of the project. Three broad aims emerged from these discussions. Educational outcomes

The participating students should engage with debates about representation, culture and identity by articulating cultural studies theory and lived cultural experience through the multimedia design process—so extending the original Translocations themes of culture, migration and hybridity. The students should

From media to multimedia education


also develop a basic understanding of industry-standard multimedia authoring applications and design. The teachers should attain a basic understanding of teaching and learning methods in multimedia education and training, together with some experience of project management. Product outcomes

The students would produce a public-gallery-based multimedia piece as an extension of the original Translocations show and a Translocations web site connected to Displaced Data’s Permanent Revolution web site. CD-ROM copies of the site should be produced for public distribution to libraries and for the students’ own use. The project should provide a practical production project for the student’s A-level media studies coursework folders. Continuity outcomes

Translocations should feed a strategic plan for multimedia education at St Charles to support the development of College ICT policy in preparation for the National Grid for Learning. The project should also form the foundation for further development of multimedia production for A-level coursework and for ongoing liaison with local and national arts and media organisations. Several issues of project management emerged at the early stages. The exact contractual relationship between artist, gallery, funding body and host college was not clearly established, neither was the appointment of a single project co-ordinator. Indeed, as the project progressed various challenges to the project’s organisation and management were encountered, not least the overrun of the project beyond Derek’s appointed schedule. Derek Richards was replaced by Estella Rushaija in September 1997, and she took the project through to a successful completion. Access to the necessary hardware and software was limited at St Charles. Up to twenty students could be made available for the collaboration at different times, but our multimedia facilities are limited to: one Power Mac 8100/100, one Performa 6200 with a UMAX Vista S8 scanner and two LCIII Macintoshes with peripherals. Access to rooms and the scheduling of workshop sessions needed to fit in with the students’ regular timetables. Between them, North Kensington Arts and the Photographers’ Gallery lent three Macintosh computers and a Zip drive to the project. The steering group decided that the best location for the sessions to take place was at St Charles College, as this largely precluded problems with students’ timetables and travel. The project was to be sited in a regular, mixed-use classroom in the context of the media studies’ working day. Various questions were raised by such an approach. What is the role of the artist in residence? How much responsibility for the group’s learning


Andrew Jones

does s/he bear? Should the learning be structured by the artist as an ‘artist’ or is s/he a creative ‘consultant’? What is the role of the teacher? How much should the teacher shape the learning? What responsibilities does s/he shoulder for the management of the learning? How differently do the students imagine the roles of the artist and the teacher? How clearly are these roles and responsibilities defined for them? Our experience from the project suggests that it is important to be able to answer these questions at the outset, especially when working with outside agencies. A clear outline of roles, responsibilities, outcomes and methods negotiated, agreed, drafted and signed by students, teacher and artists would have been worthwhile and cleared up some of the confusion. ‘Welcome to mul-ti-meejah!’

The students’ preparation for Translocations began with a visit to the Displaced Data exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery. A press release describes the show: Taking the form of a physical interactive environment of soundscapes and projected still and moving images, this important new work explores the roles that the convergence of migrating peoples, exchange and fusion play in cultural change. Ten students volunteered for the project and spent a day exploring the show with Derek Richards. One week later, the first workshop enabled the students to surf the Net for commercial, artistic and personal web sites exploring some of the codes and conventions of web-site design and identifying differences between web-site ‘genres’. The workshops ran weekly, with Derek and myself taking the group through some basic software skills. These skills were learnt by teaching each student to create a short, simple Director animation called ‘Moon Over Manhattan’, wherein an animated moon passes over a skyline silhouette combined with interactive hotspots which trigger sound files and turn ‘lights’ in the buildings on and off. The design skills needed to produce this piece are the same basic skills needed to produce a more complex interactive web site. Learning the ‘basic’ skills was a far from simple matter. Indeed the tension between the fantastic potential of the technology and its complexity was described by Simone (one of the students) as: phenomenal, as the computer technology available gave me astronomical artistic creativity as I could now create and manipulate text, graphics, sound, video and animation. However, the working process was extremely hard as I had to learn programmes such as Photoshop, a graphics application,

From media to multimedia education


SoundEdit, Director, which produced digital motion pictures, MovieMaker, Morph as well as HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language).

‘What shape is IT?’: imagin(eer)ing the web site

Two of the ten students, Natalie and Simone, were regular Internet users with home access, whereas the remaining eight students were unfamiliar with the range of possible web sites. Inevitably the students’ choice of design and content would be shaped by their existing knowledges of web sites, their interpretations of the original show and their assumptions of what was ‘required’ of them by the artist, the teacher and the syllabus. By selecting examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ web sites we encouraged the students to explore the possibilities of non-linearity using hyperlinks between pages, icons and hotspots. But the majority of the students tended to create more-or-less linear structures with clear start and finish points, as though producing a magazine, video or photostory—forms which were familiar through media studies production work. Simone and Natalie, however, appeared to have greater confidence when it came to imagining their web sites, experimenting with non-linear narratives and complex navigation. Simone’s web site used original text, scanned photographs, morphs, video, music and animation to explore the relationship between national cultures, ethnicity, music, technology and identity. Far from being a bland home page of ‘interests’ and family snapshots, Simone’s piece expressed a great personal investment framed by her wider reading of cultural theory (see especially, Gilroy (1993) which I suspect Simone had been reading during the project). In her summative evaluation, she states: I wanted to convey to the audience my feelings of alienation and ostracisation within the society I live in, England. I also wanted to illustrate how my cultural dilemma worsens as I feel hypocritical when referring to myself as an Afro-Caribbean, as I am far from the cultural influences of these lands. In addition I wanted the user to gain an insight into my life influences so he/she could realise how I have culturally removed myself from African, Jamaican and British influences and found refuge in the ‘American Way Of Life’. Simone articulates her experience of hybridity as a negated identity, displaced onto American-ness. Moreover, she is explicit about her reasons for communicating this experience to an audience: an argument she makes not only through the web site, but through the evaluation itself. Natalie’s piece employed similar production techniques, but her content was a historical account of family and migration, exploring an heritage which included Cherokee and Black Caribbean roots. Tracing the histories of three


Andrew Jones

family generations across four continents, Natalie’s site literally maps identity and hybridity through geographically mapping migration, language, music and naming. Natalie is hoping to link her pages to Cherokee web sites in North America as a way of re-connecting with those aspects of her cultural identity. The larger part of Natalie’s web site takes a more linear approach to this story, a narrative which could be described as genealogical as opposed to Simone’s archaeological structure. Patricia’s web site, on the other hand, was structured around a comparison of Ghanaian and British lived culture. Rooted in stories, personal and family memory work, found images and original photographs, Patricia’s explicit aim in her evaluation was: to create a web site with various pages dealing with different aspects of cultural life in Ghana and England. The aim is to create an engaging web site with a mixture of images, sounds, texts and colours…. The content of the project is the history of Ghana, family, friends, clothes, food, education, chiefs and music in the form of texts, images and music. This is more of a celebration of national-cultural differences than an exploration of identity, but the focus on the project as communicative—for an audience who needs to be ‘engaged’ —remains. Simone, Natalie and Patricia became the core students in the project which, by September 1997, had shifted from being a timetabled workshop to a Wednesday afternoon elective. Throughout the project, the group were encouraged to discover more web sites through online sessions, and in doing so they continued to formulate ideas about web-site forms and conventions, reflecting on their own productions in the process and bringing these ideas to their own work. The unfamiliarity of web-site conventions and genres meant that the students realised their designs by reproducing and reconfiguring web-site codes across genres to suit their own purposes through experimentation and reflection. Simone writes: It was difficult to place the Internet within a specific context of analysis as there is very little critical documentation of this medium as it is relatively new. The lack of information about the Internet also extended itself into my actual project as it was hard to define the normal codes and conventions used by the Internet. The main convention users are aware of is concerned with the location of links. The convention for this is an arrow transforming into a hand when the icon passes a hypertext-link or hotspot. Simone was interested in identifying the codes and conventions of ‘traditional’ web-site design and deliberately disrupting them for emphasis. She deliberately obscured hyperlinks by, for example, discarding the ‘pointing hand’ and ‘highlighted hotspot’:

From media to multimedia education


forcing the engaged user to move around the pages searching for the link which would give them greater understanding of the piece. This exploration parallels with my search for knowledge thus allowing the user to empathise and share my perspective. Simone’s final page ‘Searching for my “True” Identity’ features a selective map of the UK, the USA, Jamaica and Africa (to the exclusion of all other nations) layered with sixteen question marks which delay-trigger sound files when the mouse passes over them. However, none of these question marks reveals any further textual infor mation, which Simone explains as ‘representing my lack of identity’. In the space between the reader’s expectations of a conventional hyperlink and its subsequent negation, Simone represented her own perceived absence through (the lack of) a visual metaphor or symbol. There is clearly a sense in which the user is engaged in a game— accessing personal information yet thwarted by obstacles, ambiguity and anticlimax. This principle is quite apparent in the evaluation: The structure/form of these ideas was extremely important to me as I wanted the user to go on a guided journey of my identity, the emphasis being on the word ‘guided’ as I wanted the user to interpret the preferred meaning so as to understand the insightful conclusion. To achieve this I gave my site a very definite structure. It begins with an introduction establishing from the outset ‘my cultural dilemma’, which then moves into the main piece which asserts my cultural influences. Toward the end of the journey we reach a climax as I ‘search…for my true identity’. However this ends in a shocking anti-climax with the conclusion that I am an ‘ULO’, Unidentified Living Object. Simone was very keen to use the piece as a way of guiding the reader through a developmental journey, shaping the text to produce a sense of growth, rather than a fixed set of positions. To do this, she incorporates a morph: an animated photographic portrait of herself as a baby which evolves through twenty further portraits chronologically to the age of eleven. She writes: I originally decided that I would illustrate my obvious physical change as well as the development of my mental understanding of myself using a morph from birth to the present day. However, this process was so time consuming that I did not get the opportunity to mature it past seven years! However, I hoped that the morph would still signify the ‘growth’ of my understanding of my place in this world, as this page links to the page entitled ‘Searching for my True Identity’ and the conclusion of me being an ‘ULO’ (see Figure 8.1).


Andrew Jones

Figure 8.1 ULO Image

In the conventional taxonomy of media studies A-level assessment, projects are defined as either individual or group projects, but Translocations seemed to fit both categories as a collective piece comprising individual designs. Although the students were individually responsible for their own ‘pages’, the overall web site was a collaborative production exacting group skills and negotiation. Patricia’s design was essentially a home page ‘hub’ linking to linear strings of pages combining still images and photographs with some sound, text and a degree of interactivity. Patricia’s home page is created from the national flag of Ghana, with hyperlinks between the colour bands and the central star and the further pages (see Figure 8.2). Each further page contains a smaller icon of the Ghanaian flag which returns the user to the home page. This is a fairly simple form, but one which Patricia recognised as significantly different from other media forms. There is no narrative structure to web sites. In fact each of my pages is different so therefore the structure is non-linear unlike a linear narration which is straightforward. Linear narrative structures flow to make the story fit whereas a non-linear one is broken up and fragmented which can leave the audience confused about what is going on in the story.

From media to multimedia education


Figure 8.2 Patricia’s home page

Patricia here describes the non-linearity of the site as a lack of narrative, rather than as a form of new (hypertextual) reading strategies. This contrasts with Simone’s uses of form to deliberately exploit narrative complexity. Patricia was unfamiliar with the Internet at the start of the project and, like the majority of the group, designed her pages around simple structures using linear presentation techniques as could be found in classic textbooks, e.g. simple anchoring of photographs with captions and separate pages for separated topics. The students with home Net access, however, tended toward page designs with a more challenging use of hyperlinks. Nevertheless, all of the designs were clearly written in an autobiographical mode. Web-site planners (essentially blank sheets!) and Statements of Intent (see Figure 8.3) were used to enable discussion of intentions and visual ideas, much in the same way that a storyboard or production sketches would be used for a video, film or performance. Simone’s web-site plans are included showing her ideas for images, text, icons, symbols, cues, directions, layouts, animations and hyperlinks (see Figure 8.4). At this point it is worth noting that Director, the multimedia authoring application we used, uses a theatrical metaphor. There is a ‘stage’ onto which various assets, ‘characters’ and scores are placed or applied. This seems to have produced a sense of theatrical set design and performance to the production and, in her evaluation, Simone refers to three stages or acts to her piece. In general, of course, the potential of multimedia is delimited by the paradigms, metaphors and interfaces underpinning the actual applications themselves. The theatrical paradigm exerts its own power over the designer and seems to have influenced the students’ work.

Figure 8.3 Web-site planners and Statements of Intent

Figure 8.4a Simone’s web-site plans

Figure 8.4b Simone’s web-site plans

Figure 8.4c Simone’s web-site plans


Andrew Jones

Evaluating the project

On one level I had to evaluate the project according to assessment criteria in the media studies syllabus in order for the students to be able to use the work in their A-level folders. However, my concern here is with the three areas of outcome identified above. Educational outcomes

Clearly the three students who stayed the course of the project engaged critically with debates about culture and identity at theoretical and personal levels, using the multimedia design process as a means of discovery and expression. Whether or not this aim could have been more successfully achieved using other media forms is questionable as the novelty, potential and ‘astronomical artistic creativity’ offered by multimedia fuelled the successful students’ motivation. Conversely, the majority of the students who abandoned the project did so because of the complexity of the applications, the limited access and availability of resources and the demands of the production process. Those students who survived the project developed a basic understanding of industry-standard multimedia authoring applications and design processes; but all three declared that they would be hard pressed to use these applications successfully without supervision. I would suggest that for initial work in multimedia design and hypertext (especially with younger students), more limited applications such as Hypercard and Kai Soap would be preferable to Director and Photoshop. Although these do not represent true hypertext packages (and therefore convey a limited idea of what multimedia might become) they could be employed with a view to introducing more elaborate packages when the students have a sound basic understanding of the potential and limitations of hypermedia. The teaching, learning and management of multimedia production is reassuringly similar to working in the traditional forms of practical media production. The same kinds of questions need to be asked in the preparation of a multimedia project: • Does it have a clear media institution from which such an artefact might come? (Or is specifically designed for?) • Does it have definable forms and conventions? • Does it have a clear sense of an audience for the product? • Is it flexible enough to allow inventiveness and creativity? • Is it limited so that it does not get out of hand? • Is it clearly related to the syllabus areas of study? • As part of an overall scheme of practical tasks, does it offer variety in terms of media forms and institutions addressed?

From media to multimedia education


• Where appropriate, does it meet the assessment criteria? • Will the students enjoy the task? Web-site design certainly tests the assumptions of some of these questions, but, by and large, multimedia design for a real audience and purpose fits the bill. At worst, a group multimedia design project demands a lot of one-to-one teaching and untold hardware/software problems ranging from simple bugs and applications queries to full-on viruses and purloined hardware. Despite this, a standard production process of preparation, planning, making, viewing, publication and reviewing can be, and should be applied without too much discomfort. Multimedia design is, however, time consuming, and students will need plenty of time and assistance to access scanners and video facilities to gather and edit their assets for a substantial project. In terms of project organisation and management, it is essential that clear outcomes, targets, roles, responsibilities, funding details, resource management, rooming, teaching and learning methods, communications and timescales are discussed, agreed upon and preferably contracted at the earliest stages to enable the most rewarding (stress-free) educational experience for all. The relationship between the teacher and the artist in residence is a primary factor in the project’s realisation, and time would be well spent discussing prior skills and knowledges, teaching approaches and individual needs as well as how the partnership will work in the classroom. Product outcomes

As I write, Estella is close to completing the web-site home page and menu and negotiations have begun for the launch at the Photographers’ Gallery and exhibition at the Portobello Festival Web Site 1998. Displaced Data are prepared for the web-link to Translocations and the CD-ROM copies of the site should be produced for distribution to libraries and for the students’ own use by the autumn of 1998. The project has been submitted on Zip cartridge as a practical production project for the students’ A-level coursework folders in its current form with provision for upgrading to CD-ROM before moderation. (For example of a home page see Figure 8.5.) Continuity outcomes

It is too early to speculate on the impact of Translocations on a strategic plan for ICTs at St Charles in preparation for the National Grid for Learning, but a full report and negotiations with relevant college steering groups are under way. Preparation and planning for incorporating more modest uses of multimedia applications and simulations have started in the media studies subject area. We are also looking forward to investigating further collaborations with local and national arts and media organisations who can


Andrew Jones

Figure 8.5 Simone’s home page

provide much needed investment for projects such as Translocations to happen in the first place. I’d like the final words about this complex and ambitious project to go to the students. I have tried to make the case that making multimedia develops key principles of practical work embedded in media education. In particular my account of the students’ work has emphasised how the project brings together an explicit grasp of cultural theory with an explicit attention to form and convention as the project seemed to locate the students’ individual sense of self within a broader theoretical framework about identity in general. This is a considerable educational achievement that doesn’t even begin to account for the practical and artistic merits of the activity. Patricia: I achieved most of my aims although the process of creating a web site is very difficult and time consuming especially if you are a beginner. The experience has taught me the technical and production process involved in creating a web site. It has been exciting despite all the problems I had particularly with the computers. Having my own web site on the Internet gives me a great feeling of real achievement. Simone: 5When comparing my web site with those on the Internet, I found that my web site was by far superior than the majority of web pages. This is because

From media to multimedia education


virtually anyone can place a web page on the Internet as it is a public access forum. I have even visited sites which were not operational. I am extremely pleased with this project because I was given the opportunity to create an entertaining and insightful piece of communication using the exceptional medium of the future, the Internet.

Reference Gilroy, P. (1993) The Black Atlantic, London: Verso.

Chapter 9 ‘What makes you switch on?’ Young people, the Internet and cultural participation Roz Hall and Darren Newbury

The Internet has been accorded great significance in debates about the future of education despite the fact that curriculum development in this area remains largely underdeveloped. Indeed the place of new technologies in a traditional subject-based curriculum is far from clear. However, rather than attempting to envisage the potential of the Internet from within the existing curriculum, the research reported in this chapter steps outside of formal education in order to ask some more basic questions. It is argued that the diffusion of new information technologies into many aspects of everyday life will provide new creative cultural opportunities: but how are young people engaging with these technologies, and in what context? What motivates their involvement? Are there barriers to participation? How should formal education and training respond to these new opportunities for cultural participation? This chapter begins to explore young people’s perception of the Internet and how they might want to make use of it.


This chapter is based on a series of workshops with young people that took place at Café Surf, an Internet café in Birmingham, between April and June 1997. First of all we will outline the research agenda behind the workshops and then describe how this led to the creation of the young people’s web pages; in conclusion we will reflect on the implications of the project for formal education. The Café Surf workshops represent one initial strand in a three-year action research project established through the Arts Council Media Arts in Education Scheme supported by the Arts Council of England, West Midlands Arts, Jubilee Arts and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, University of Central England. The research project is concerned with two major issues: the impact of new forms of cultural production and distribution on the opportunities for cultural participation by young

The Internet and cultural participation


people; and the means by which young people are able to explore and promote their own identities and concerns, particularly through digital visual media. The decision to use an action research approach in informal and community contexts has allowed the young people who chose to participate in the projects to determine the content and direction of the work, and thereby inform and influence the broader agenda of the research. Indeed, the ways in which groups of young people come together around particular issues or identifications has provided an additional focus within the research. In particular this has required careful attention to the means by which our research agenda intrudes into the lives of the young people themselves, and how they can derive benefit from the collaboration. Our starting point for the short series of workshops at Café Surf is encapsulated in our title: What makes you switch on? This question, which forms the opening line of text on the project web site ( imagenit) captures something of the issues that the workshops aimed to address. What motivates young people’s use of the Internet? How is it possible to engage young people in cultural production outside the formal structures provided by school or college? And, in the context of this publication, what is the relationship between the work by young people and its presentation to an audience of teachers, academics and policy makers? The simplicity of the question itself hides the debate that took place at this point about the practical and theoretical issues involved in engaging young people in the project —in particular what was the point of connection between the needs and interests of young people and our research agenda? The answers to these questions necessitated the involvement of young people; yet at the same time it was necessary to answer the questions in order to attract young people to the project. Given that we had set ourselves the task of working with young people outside of formal education, the task was not so much to select a sample to work with, but rather to bring one into being through the setting up of projects. In other words, the young people had to perceive something for themselves in the project. This is an important issue and one that other researchers in arts education have commented on. 1 The workshop format was the project’s response to this dilemma. Quite deliberately, it offered free use of the Internet at Café Surf during the first workshop as an incentive. In return the young people were available for discussion about their Internet use with the project researcher. We hoped that this would make attendance at the first workshop appealing. In this respect the group of young people who attended is not representative, and the results of the project cannot easily be generalised. Nevertheless, for the participants, the workshops were meaningful, and may provide some guidance for future developments in this area.


Roz Hall and Darren Newbury

The Café Surf workshops

Prior experience

Twelve young people, from a variety of geographic locations in the West Midlands, attended the first Café Surf workshop on 19 April 1997. The event had been publicised at Café Surf—thereby reaching an audience of young people who already had some knowledge of using the Internet. The group comprised seven young women aged between 14 and 17, and five young men aged between 15 and 17. The previous experience of the group ranged from one young man who had used Internet Relay Chat (IRC) once (IRC is a facility for text-based real-time discussion), to another who had used the Internet, accessing both IRC and the World Wide Web (WWW), for about two years. The majority of the group used the Internet at Café Surf or at Birmingham Central library when their finances allowed. Two people in the group had some limited access to the Internet at home on a parents’ or sibling’s computer. The majority of the group felt that access to the Net was a big problem for them—especially in terms of providing a basis for sustained engagement. The session began with a discussion about their uses of the Internet. One person had used a browser, to look up information about pop bands and information for projects. No one had heard of ‘Youth Net’ or any other youth-based browsers. No one had sent a virtual postcard or gift, and no one seemed to be aware of the possibility of doing this. When using the web this group tended to use a known address to go straight to a site that interested them and then leave again, or to visit some other sites via the hot links provided. The majority of the group used Internet Relay Chat rather than the World Wide Web—largely because it offered two-way communication. The group felt that being able to contribute to a discussion or even just to ‘add something’, was the important element of using the Internet. The main reason given for liking IRC was the anonymity involved: ‘You can chat without knowing appearances and things, so, you know, sometimes you judge people by their appearances, but [on IRC] you can chat to people you don’t know.’ The young people suggested that it was important to be able to tell people about themselves in this way so that they are judged on what they say rather than how they look. Some of the group members liked the anonymity because it allowed them to construct an identity which related more to their aspirations, for others it provided a form of game playing. For example, one of the young people discussing IRC said: ‘I’m a rich super model apparently.’ The use of the word ‘apparently’ suggesting only a superficial investment in the constructed identity. Most members of the group used IRC to communicate about themselves, their friends and family, and where they lived. The young

The Internet and cultural participation


people acknowledged that it was useful to have control over what to tell, and what to omit from telling. They were also very enthusiastic about meeting people on IRC from other parts of the world with whom they had something in common. On the other hand, meeting someone from the same geographic area was less appealing: ‘You get really dodgy people and find out they live near you—it’s scary.’ Geographic distance was perceived as an important shield in that one can talk openly about oneself and remain safe. When they did use the World Wide Web this group of young people mainly used it to look up information about pop bands. They tended to take the address off the back of audio CDs and go to the sites which interested them. Pop bands tend to be the main focus of interest, with counter pop band sites being another source of entertainment. Two young women, for example, were very excited about the opportunity to access the ‘Anti-Spice Girls’ site. The workshops

In the first workshop the group were given completely open use of the Internet. The twelve young people worked in pairs on six computers for one and a half hours. During this time they visited twenty-six different sites, of which six were interactive (e.g. chat sites, wheel of fortune game), fifteen were based on popular culture (e.g. pop bands, films, Anti-Spice Girls), four were educational or provided information (e.g. GCSE site, a university site), five were sites which contained information about specific interests or issues (e.g. Formula One, vegetarian sites, fifty fun things to do in an elevator). Some of these sites overlapped into more than one of the categories outlined here. When ‘surfing’, the group tended to search for either ‘chat sites’ or sites which were in some way interactive, or pop band sites. The following workshops, where we provided the young people with an opportunity to make their own web pages, was used by a predictably smaller group. Interestingly the gender balance had shifted, to two young women and three young men. Members of the group now spent time surfing the Internet to consider what elements to include on their own pages. Although we provided a list of ‘illustrative’ web-site addresses—to develop the design of their own pages—there was still a reluctance to look at anything other than chat sites. Given the limited time available in the workshops, and the intention to focus on content and motivation rather than the technical aspects of web page production, the group decided that it would be preferable for the pages to be constructed outside of the workshops. Members of the group felt that it was useful to be shown some of the basic principles of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), but thought it impractical to consider constructing the pages themselves. This decision was based both on their own time constraints and the perceived likelihood that HTML, as a technology, might


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be soon outmoded by new web page design software. It was important, however, that control of the content and design of the web pages remained with the young people. The second and third workshops focused on discussions aimed at assisting group members to formulate their ideas for web page content and design, produce photographic images and their combination with text and other resources and begin to draft page designs. The pages were then constructed in HTML, outside of the workshops themselves, but closely following the instructions provided by the authors. The group was shown the web pages and given the opportunity to make any changes. The group responded positively to the pages and no changes were suggested. Of the four pages we eventually made, one is about antique coins, two are about pop music and one is based around the issue of identity (see Figures 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3).

Figure 9.1 Image from web page: pop music

The Internet and cultural participation


Figure 9.2 Image from web page: coins

The most obvious influence on the design of these page was those aspects of the web sites which the authors had previously identified as being most likely to engage themselves, as young people. As a result the group decided it was important to include the possibility for potential readers to be able to contribute feedback using email. This approach also impacted upon the general content of the pages. For example, of the two pages concerned with pop music, one was produced collaboratively by a young man and a young woman. They carried out a survey at their school to identify the most popular bands. They then listed these bands on their page and provided hot links to the bands’ web sites. They thought it important to incorporate a survey on the site in order that it might change according to the responses from users. A portrait of the two people who designed the page provides the background image, thereby anchoring ownership of the page. Discussions about use of IRC had highlighted the importance for young people in exchanging information about their identities. Influenced by this, one young woman decided to make an ‘Anti-conformity’ page, about the frustration she feels as a young person when it is assumed that she does certain things in order to conform to a common identity. She focused on


Roz Hall and Darren Newbury

Figure 9.3 Image from web page: identity

specific design elements to suggest a type of anti-conformity and was keen to include links to a diverse collection of other sites. The text, which constitutes the main element of the site, is an image file created by manipulating printed text that does not quite conform with a standard font. Interestingly she chose to use portraits on the page which do not include her face and which seem to situate her identity in relation to images of youth culture. The decision to remain anonymous stems from how anonymity was identified as being a positive aspect of IRC. Since the pages have been uploaded to a server the group has met on a number of occasions. Although the purpose of these meetings has been to allow the young people to direct any changes they may wish to make to their pages, to date, no such changes have been suggested. It may be that the pleasure that the group gained from the intense interactivity of IRC is not transferred to their use of the web—which appears more about visual presentation than interaction. The need to constantly change and update web sites is perhaps less apparent to a group of non-sustained users of the Internet such as this one. The shift from the text-based communication of IRC to the highly visual environment of the web raises important issues for an understanding of Internet usage. For the young people in this project the anonymity provided by text-only communication was a valued property of the Internet, providing both a sense of safety for the young people to communicate personal infor mation and an opportunity to construct an identity without the restrictions usually imposed by the physical presence or visual representation of a body.2 The dynamics of participation therefore shift considerably with

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the possibility of using visual elements. The strong visual dimension to webbased publication raised important personal and ethical issues for the project’s participants. The only participants who used an image of themselves showing their faces on their web page, were the participants who invested the least personal information in their page. Other members of the group did use images which conveyed something of their identity, such as the inclusion of an image of a tattoo and images of clothes and jewellery, but did not wish to include images which showed their faces. It is clear that, unlike IRC, the production of web pages did not necessarily offer a form of identity game playing. Those young people who emphasised the value of being able to construct identity on IRC did not continue their involvement in this project as they did not wish to make a web page. Sites for learning

Technology is available to develop either independence and learning or bureaucracy and teaching. (Illich 1978:77) What are the implications for formal education raised by projects such as this one? Why is it important that young people learn with and about digital technologies? Clearly, considerable investments are being made in the development of new-technology-based teaching and learning at all levels of education—for example, the National Grid for Learning, or the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme in Higher Education. Similarly, the marketing of computers to young people and their parents places great emphasis on the educational value they offer. Yet, arguments concerning the specific use or value of the technology are often vague and circular. The ability to use computers is often presented as ‘a good thing’ independently of any purpose it may serve. Two key themes emerge from this project as being of particular importance for education: the notion of skill, and the relationship between education, access and cultural participation.3 Although the participants in the workshops had many different motives for attending and wanting to use the Internet, the valuing of ‘computer skills’ was a common theme in discussion between the project worker and the young people. It was striking that for the young women involved, improvement in typing or keyboard skills was the most readily identified educational benefit deriving from their Internet use. Typing might be learnt through using the Internet, rather than typing being a useful skill for using the Internet. In other words, it seems to carry a transferable skill value independent of any particular activity. The young men were more inclined to talk about becoming familiar with computers as being generally useful, but again with no reference to how this knowledge might be utilised in other contexts. One problem


Roz Hall and Darren Newbury

with this apparently narrow conception of skill is that it undermines any other cultural values the work may have had for the young people involved. It places the stress on technical activities and the development of computer skills, rather than utilising, and simultaneously developing, computer skills for creative or otherwise productive ends. Although some young people are in a strong economic position in relation to HTML scripting and web-site development, their engagement with the Internet is dependent upon sustained and relatively privileged access. If the perceived economic value of computer skills is a significant incentive for young people to become Internet users, then it is important that opportunities for formal education and training are available to those who wish to sustain and develop their initial involvement. As has been recognised in youth culture research generally, it is important not simply to celebrate particular styles or subcultures but also to ‘connect being in a subculture with what happens next especially in the world of education, training and employment’ (McRobbie 1993). This was clearly on the minds of some of the young people at Café Surf. For example, one young man explored how his role as publicity manager for his sixth form band might be fused with his interest in computers—in order to develop his Internet skills through the production of a web page about the band. This young man is now studying computing and leisure management at college. The problem of equitable access to new media is frequently glossed over in much of the literature about the growth of the Internet. This contrasts strongly with the young people involved in this project, where the decision to use the Internet had clear financial implications: only two of the twelve young people at the first workshop had (limited) access at home. The use of the Internet by these young people was not therefore casual, they had fragmented and discontinuous access, and could not be identified as members of any ‘virtual community’. Projects such as the workshops at Café Surf provide young people, who might otherwise have little opportunity for sustained or supported access, with the opportunity to utilise their interests for productive ends. Their enthusiasm for involvement in this project suggests just how inadequate they find current levels of provision. Whilst it is clear that the incorporation of work with digital media into the formal curriculum would be valuable (in terms of increasing the opportunity for young people to engage in this type of work) it is not unproblematic. The aim to provide creative cultural opportunities for young people can sit uneasily with the limited perception of computers as simply word processors; the comments by the young women about Internet use and typing skills may reflect perceptions shaped by the school curriculum. Similarly, although subjects such as Art and English are often perceived as providing young people’s main opportunity for cultural participation, they do not always contribute positively to the shaping of young people’s patterns of cultural activity beyond school (Harland et al. 1995). One reason for this

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may be the gap between the formal curriculum in these subjects and young people’s experience of contemporary media culture. The contradictions of moving from community project work into the controlled environment of the school can be seen to revolve around two issues: a need within formal education for pre-defined evaluative criteria; and the ownership of the content and direction of the work. The open agenda of projects, like Café Surf, can be hampered when young people transpose their school experience onto the project and become unduly concerned about an assumed educational agenda. For example, one of the young people participating in our workshop chose to make her page about issues of identity, which had been discussed at length during the project. It may be that her interest was fuelled by these discussions, but it could also have been the case that she understood these discussions as implying an agenda which needed to be addressed. In prescribing the focus of the activity the possibility for more exciting explorations of the medium might be overlooked. Project work outside formal education can provide a space for creative and exploratory work to take place. It cannot, however, ensure that the majority of young people have access to the development of new skills or new media. Although many writers argue that cultural organisations independent of formal education should be developed (for example, Willis 1990), more real-istically the school curriculum will remain a significant force in the shaping of young people’s cultural activities and perceptions. It therefore remains a key site for intervention. Sara Selwood’s (1997) telling reference to a model of short-term arts education projects as ‘a temporary social service for young people who were disadvantaged or “excluded”’, signals a danger for digital media arts projects remaining outside of current educational developments. It is crucial that the outcomes of exploratory work in this field impacts on strategies for using the medium within formal education. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Café Surf for hosting the workshops, Netplay Café for additional support, the young people involved for granting permission to use their words and images in this chapter, Anita Kaushik for workshop support and Jayne Murray for creative and technical support in the web page production. Notes 1 For example, in her article on gallery education, Sara Selwood (1997) looks at the focus on young people in recent cultural policy initiatives and draws attention to the context provided by extrinsic social and political agendas. 2 The majority of published research on the use of the Internet has looked at the manipulation of identity in relation to text-based virtual realities, for example those environments created by the makers and users of Multi-User Domains


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(MUDs) and IRC. See: Curtis (1992); Jones (1995); Reid (1991) and Young (1994). 3 A third issue which arises from this discussion is the value of cultural and educational networks. However, this was only tentatively addressed in the Café Surf workshops. A long-term project with young lesbian, gay and bisexual people has been developed in order to address issues highlighted by the Café Surf project. Entitled ‘Young, Queer and Safe?’ this project will explore the use of the Internet in terms of identity and geographic safety.

References Curtis, P. (1992) ‘Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-based Virtual Realities’. http://—docs/academic/DIAC92.txt 20th June 1997. Harland, J., Kinder, K. & Hartley, K. (1995) Arts in Their View: A Study of Youth Participation in the Arts. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research. Illich, I. (1978) Deschooling Society. London: Marion Boyars. Jones, S.G. (1995) CyberSociety: Computer-mediated Communication and Community. London: Sage. McRobbie, A. (1993) ‘Shut Up and Dance’ Cultural Studies, 7(3): pp. 406–426. Reid, E.R. (1991) ‘Electropolis: Communication and Community on Internet Relay Chat’. Honours thesis, University of Melbourne electropolis.txt 20th June 1997 Selwood, S. (1997) ‘Cultural Policy and Young People’s Participation in the Visual Arts’ Journal of Art and Design Education, 16(3): pp. 333–340. Willis, P. (1990) Common Culture: Symbolic Work at Play in the Everyday Cultures of the Young. Buckingham: Open University Press. Young, J.R. (1994) ‘Textuality in Cyberspace: Muds and Written Experience’. http:// Net Guide/Other versions/Old/…/Net culture/ MOO MUD IRC/textuality in cyberspace.article 20th June 1997.

Chapter 10 Web publishing by young people Chris Abbott

As many of the contributors to this book argue, digital technologies have created a number of new opportunities for young people to create and publish a range of materials. For some young people these opportunities have meant financial as well as cultural rewards and there are a number of apocryphal (and true) stories in circulation— describing the fabulous ‘cyber-skills’ of this generation. This chapter gives an insight into the writers behind these myths as it explores some of the web pages produced by young people for a truly global readership. Chris Abbott’s research with young web authors—beyond simply describing their publications—begins to uncover some of these new writers’ aims and aspirations. The chapter concludes by addressing the implications of these kinds of production for the curriculum.


There has been a vast explosion of community and youth publishing since the arrival of the World Wide Web as a cheap, adaptable and far-reaching publishing medium. Web sites now routinely include not just text and images, but sounds, speech, music, animations and video: young web-site authors are pushing at the frontiers of the medium and testing its potential. The three case studies that follow illustrate some of these issues, and provide some of the background to this development. All three young people were interviewed as part of my ongoing research into young people, language and the Internet. A random group of seventy young people were sent an email survey in 1996. Of the forty-seven who replied, the vast majority also agreed that they would be willing to be interviewed face to face about their home pages. For a variety of reasons, related to geographical location, loss of contact and changing reactions, only three young people were interviewed in 1997, although others have been interviewed since. These three initial interviews form the basis of this chapter.


Chris Abbott


On the date on which he was interviewed at his home (14 March 1997) Michael was 18 years old and an experienced and expert user of the World Wide Web and many other communication technologies. From his early teenage years he has attempted to use communications technologies to enlarge his circle of friends, to experiment with the facilities available and, in some cases, to make money. Michael lives in the Home Counties nor th of London and attended a for mal, academic school with considerable ICT facilities. Most of his communications activities, however, have taken place from his home, as his school was a subscriber only to BT Campus World—not highly rated by the youthful cognoscenti of the time. For Michael, it all began when he set up his own Bulletin Board (BBS) at the age of 14. Bulletin Boards were the major source of online interactivity for young people, especially in the US and the UK, before the Internet became widely available in homes. All that was needed to access a Bulletin Board was a phone line, a modem and a computer. Since most Bulletin Boards were text only, a slow modem and an old computer were quite usable. All that was needed in addition to own and operate a Bulletin Board was the appropriate software and the willingness, or parental tolerance, necessary to have the family phone connected to the computer for set periods of the day. Purchasing the necessary software might have been a problem were it not for the fact that one of the major uses of Bulletin Boards by young people was for the acquisition and dissemination of illegally copied software. The semi-legality of much of the activity was often part of the attraction for many of the young people involved, who were almost always male, in their teens, and often felt excluded from other youth activities such as sport or music. Michael was aware of the Internet at the time but largely rejected it, as he explains. I never really touched it then because the bulletin boards are far easier to maintain and fiddle around with and they’re fast; whereas the Internet has a reputation of being incredibly slow, which it is. So I didn’t really like it that much. But it’s trendy to have a web page! It was this pressure to move on to ‘the next thing’, in this case a web page, that ensured Michael ran the Bulletin Board and his web pages in tandem for the next few years, often using the web to advertise the BBS. Apart from the BBS adverts, Michael’s first page was very typical of others in the mid-1990s.

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I mean on the first page it was just more stuff about me, and stuff about me and my friends and stuff. The second page it was more things I was interested in, sort of like an archive, and stuff.

The hype

When talking about the way in which his web site was used to advertise his BBS, Michael makes it clear that for him, a certain amount of hype is very much part of the process. The impression given on his web page is of a much more extensive and elaborate BBS than actually exists in his room. Well if you give people…if you’re chatting someone up on IRC [the facility for text-based real-time discussion on the Internet], or in your bulletin board or if you’re handing out cards or all…you say: ‘And this is my web page address’ —people aren’t going to bother to write down, ‘x.yz [email protected]/homepage/da-duh-da-duh-da-duh’. People just don’t bother. Whereas if you say, my web page is at, and it’s nice and very easy. Plus it also makes the bulletin board look a lot larger than it actually is. I mean it’s just literally two computers sitting in a bedroom answering phones. If you’ve got a web page which has a domain the same as the bulletin board name it makes you look like you’re a multinational almost. Indeed the degree of artifice on Michael’s latest web site is quite extensive, with a large graphic which purports to show the layout of the BBS. It’s another lie to make it look as though the bulletin board is huge and not just two PCs in a bedroom. So it’s a map of the CFC network…. Apparently my bulletin board has an Internet network within it with a web server, two nodes, peripherals, a router directly into an ISP with a two-one link! A 512k bridge to another bulletin board which then has… CA: M: CA: M: CA: M:

So are you’re assuming people actually believe this? They’ve got no reason not to believe. No. So the web site is kind of presenting a version of a service. Absolutely. So it’s a fictional web site, or a slightly fictional web site. Yes. I mean web sites and bulletin boards you can put anything in, you can control anything and everything that they see, and you could copy someone like HBO or IBM’s page, and a part of them…the only way that people can see—let me get this right— there’s no reason from what you can see… Let’s start again… You probably know what I mean to say, yeah?…


Chris Abbott

…You can’t really tell from HP’s [Hewlett Packard] page, what can you see there that they are telling you that they’re a multinational company and they have huge great links into the Internet, there’s nothing that tells you apart from the fact it looks flash and they’re telling you.


The physical location of young people’s web pages poses a complex challenge. Until Internet Service Providers (ISPs) began offering web space to their subscribers, many young people took up the possibility of having a free web site on one of the advertising-funded services such as Geocities or Angelfire. Later possibilities to host more extensive facilities on other servers sometimes result in complex re-addressing and re-directing which young users usually attempt to hide from their readers. At the moment this is actually on a Geocities’ account anyway and I registered a domain and asked them to point that domain to my Geocities’ account. …And that account, actually, on Geocities was the one…my old one and I moved it to the new address and removed all the old stuff from it. But I’ve now got a Virginnet account which they allow (more) web space. So I’m going to eventually move this onto that account when they give you the option and suss out that way. But I was debating with the idea to get a domain’’ or something, or ‘abcnet’ and I thought the name is too personalised and you can’t—it doesn’t look so good if you have it dedicated to a web site, I thought. But if you have it, I can’t do the forum because then if you have the forum you might change it later on. So ‘xyz’ is the abbreviation of the forum, you can change it if you don’t keep the name forum, and you can always…it still looks better than a huge great long address if you’re just giving it out to friends for…if they want to find some information about you.

Being personal

When he was younger, Michael’s pages contained much in the way of personal information, about his hobbies and interests and even his personal diary. For a period of almost two years he shared with his online readers the progress (or lack of it) of his unrequited love for a girl in his class at school. Now in a long-term relationship (with a different partner) he is fast removing all personal information from his current web page. There’s not really much that I’d like to put on the personal web page at the moment anyway. I mean eventually I’m going to put my CV and stuff

Web publishing by young people


like that on it, that’s going to be a completely different section so if anyone wanted to go to that they will…there’s not going to be a link from the main page or any of the other pages. Michael joined the sixth form at his school but was not particularly successful in conventional academic terms, so an offer to join a multinational IT company as web support officer was extremely attractive. Now 19, he has been provided with a company car and spends his time solving complex problems related to web Intranets as well as the wider Internet. He still recognises, however, the value and enjoyment he gained from his early experimentation—and he still runs his BBS although he devotes far less time to it. Josh

Being personal

Josh is also 19 and got involved with the Internet at much the same time as Michael, but has never been interested in BBSs. He was interviewed at his home on the south coast on 20 March 1997. For Josh, the explicit attraction of the Net is communication and interactivity. Now spending his gap year before university as a freelance and very successful web designer, Josh recognises the changes in his attitudes over the period of his involvement. Like Michael, he has gradually removed many of the personal features which were on his web site when he was younger. Basically it’s supposed to be a bit professional. It hasn’t got very much personal information there but it has got some because the aim of it is to encourage people to use my ser vices and things. So I’ve got three…four different sections, four different pages on the site basically, plus the front page. And the front page just gives a general introduction about me. Then I’ve got a freelance journalist page which has a little bit about how I started writing for the papers and things and some links to some articles. So there are another seven or eight pages after this with my published articles on them. Another page with web site designer which basically has links to the web site that I’ve designed; another page saying, Internet Consultant—(Laughs) including the Advisory Board, and how I’ve helped a number of companies set up their web sites and things like that; and then a personal page with—it’s supposed to be the light-hearted side of the site. Josh has kept some personal information on his site however, and feels he has good reasons for doing so.


Chris Abbott

I felt I wanted a personal page with some personal information; there’s a picture of my girlfriend and what music I like and things, again very short. Just to liven me up and make me a bit more human.

Professional values

Josh’s experience of designing sites for his local council, for the local Labour Party and for a number of companies has helped him to develop some strong feelings about design principles for web sites. Pages shouldn’t be too long because people do get fed up scrolling down. And then there’s the other issue of how long, the time it’s going to take for a page to download and basically the more graphics it has the longer it does take to download. But I mean, modems are getting faster all the time and you can compress simple images to such a small amount that you can have quite a fair amount on the page, as long as it’s nicely presented. Because then that will make sure that people don’t get too bored. When working on the site for the Labour Party, Josh, who will be reading politics at university, wanted to have a tabloid newspaper feel to the page, quite an ambitious undertaking in a different medium. To get a desktop published look on the Internet has only been possible really in the last year or year and a half maybe…. The major concern is the time it will take to download because when you think of a front page of a newspaper you think, ‘Wow, loads of graphics here: photos, graphics, graphics, photos…’. What I’ve used here is a table which is the subset of HTML which lets you lay out text and images in grids, like table cells, so that you can work out a kind of desktop published look. Now what I’ve also used is table cell colours, which is something that has only appeared in the last four or five months, with the new versions of Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer. So that’s relatively new, but what it means is, you can have lots of blocks of colour so that it looks like it’s a lovely big graphic. I mean it does look very different from most current web sites. Making it look different is not a concern for many young people in the early stages of their involvement with web design, but is an indication here of Josh’s relatively mature understanding of the environment. He also recognises that his first attempts to create a web page shared many of the experiences of other young users, especially with regard to the acquisition and modification of elements from elsewhere.

Web publishing by young people


The original home page that I had was on a free site, you know, where I had a free page. I wasn’t paying any rental and I just borrowed—the trend was, and I suppose to a certain extent still is, that when you had a personal page you just went to one of these web sites which had loads of icons—standard icons and buttons and graphs and rainbow lines and things, which you see on hundreds of people’s personal pages—and you’d just go to those rather than creating your own site, and splash those all over your page. Josh also recognises that tone of voice is important, and that he has changed his ‘voice’ to adopt a more formal and business-like approach. Writing it in a very friendly sort of chummy style was part of the whole excitement of getting on the Internet, I suppose, and…and having emails from people that you’d never heard of, that kind of community feel, I guess. And I felt that I wanted to sort of add to that, I guess, and it was what everyone else was doing. Josh is now a very successful web designer with some prestigious national clients, both working from home and through short-term consultancies. Recently profiled by a major in-flight magazine as a potential Internet millionaire of the future, he nevertheless remains convinced that the medium holds great attractions for young people who merely want to play with it. I think there’s still that kind of community idea where people—where for the first time, people are very interested in putting it up for the novelty aspect of it, the sort of overwhelming kind of: ‘Wow, isn’t this Internet thing great! Let’s be a part of it’ —sort of thing. I mean, I haven’t looked at other people’s (my age) home pages for quite a while, I guess. I think that still appeals.


Getting started

Stephen is much younger than the other two web authors interviewed above, although he has also begun to earn a significant income from his work as a freelance web designer—even at the age of 13. Interviewed at his home in the Midlands on 1 September 1997, he began by explaining how his father’s involvement in the IT industry influenced his own early interests. Two years ago a local [ISP] opened in [a] Business Centre about five miles from here. And dad subscribed to him because he’s a village man (he lives down the road), and that was almost two years ago to the month. And


Chris Abbott

around Christmas time I decided to see what it all was. I didn’t know anything about it—I actually broke it three times—I was 12. Stephen quickly got interested in how web pages could be created and he made contact with a local web designer who explained the process to him. And what happened, I went to her page—she’s actually a professional designer, she [had] the camera, all that stuff. I went there to see what she had…. Dad had downloaded Hotdog, which was one of the early HTML (authoring systems), and I built just a simple page on hamsters, really. That I did January…second year…about ’96 so…January ’96 I think, yes.

The problem of content

In the early stages, Stephen’s page went through a number of changes, partly at least because his father’s involvement meant that he had much more access at a faster rate to the Internet than had either Josh or Michael at the same stage in their development. It changed every day. Every day I did something more, because I had so much time on my hands then. At the time of the interview, Stephen’s main page featured the Spice Girls, but the original subjects of the first page linked to another hobby. It was hamsters, the first thing, because that was my obsession at the time. And then we slowly… I gave the other members of the family a page, did them a page. That didn’t happen until summer ’96. We were on holiday, I had a little Toshiba, and I put together a bit of writing and a picture of people from the family—and that hasn’t really changed at all since then. Because they didn’t want to change it. Then I started to put my own interests up. Other interests followed rapidly, until there were a great many different sections on the page. I put an X-files link-up on but I didn’t actually do a page—although I was planning to do it one time. Just after…January again, ’96, I decided to do… I did a bees project for my school. It’s thirty pages long and it took me ages to do it. So I put that up on the web, and so I’ve put quite a few of my school projects up. Recently I haven’t put many pictures up, I just put the text up. But I’ve had a few enquiries about my bee project from that.

Web publishing by young people


Although the Spice Girls now feature heavily on the first page of the site, hamsters are still to be found elsewhere, for Stephen is serious about hamsterkeeping and is in touch with enthusiasts in many other countries. S: CA: S:

The hamster page…has got pictures, text, stuff about hamsters, who they were, what they did, how they died—things like that. Is that smaller than the original hamsters page, because you said that was the enthusiasm when you started, or…? No, it’s bigger. It’s about twice as long because we’ve had four or something hamsters now. But it’s less kind of pushed at you. That used to be the first thing you saw…. But if you’d done a search a year ago for hamsters, I was at the top of every single search engine.

However, on the day he was interviewed, Stephen had changed his front page to a simple statement in memory of Princess Diana, following her death the weekend before. He recognised that by doing so he was conforming to the accepted rules of the web authoring community. Well everybody else…there wasn’t a single channel which didn’t have the news on it. So as a matter of respect I didn’t take everything off the site, I just took off the index page which is what everybody goes to first and I just put up a small message saying how all our thoughts were this day. And that’s still up there now, I haven’t taken it off yet. This sense of being part of a community also extended to his role in the family. Unlike Josh or Michael, Stephen is acting as family web-keeper and has prepared pages for many of his relatives. I’ve just put a link up to my dad’s company so this is that family stuff. Then there’s my page, my sister’s page, my brother’s page…. A page that my brother’s supposed to do for our village—at the moment there’s only an article up there about the church, but I did want to get my brother to go out and do a proper article on the village, with pictures and a real good history, but he hasn’t done that yet. And then there’s the parents’ page.

Professional values

Like Josh and Michael, Stephen is aware of the way in which the developments in browser technology are enabling newer and more elaborate design possibilities for web authors, and he has clear ideas about which of these he intends to utilise.


Chris Abbott

Next year HTML 6 will be out… I use HTML 4 at the moment. Use the latest plug-ins… probably get myself a Real Audio—not Streamer because that’s quite expensive but a Real Audio compressor so you can put sound files up on there, and things like that. So now every year I scrap the whole thing and start again. Working with companies is an increasingly important area for Stephen, even at the age of 13. He discusses this area with a maturity and understanding which is startling in someone of his age. With the corporate pages that I do for companies, like the school, I draw out a design plan, show it to the company, tell the company exactly what I want to do on the page, go away and do it, and then go and speak to somebody: ‘How’s that? Any changes?’ —do the changes, and then they have that. And then every now and again they send me extra information to post up. One important difference between Stephen and Josh or Michael, is that he is very interested in making contact with the readers of his page, and he has added a live chat facility for this purpose. I have actually got my own Java program which is Chatroom…so you can chat from my page…. But more now than before I’d actually use things like Microsoft Netmeeting and actually have a word with them over the web using voice. Finally it is fair to say that Stephen’s experience as a publisher also influenced his emerging political opinions. Among the most interesting things that he had to say referred to his views on freedom and the Internet, and on the highly contemporary issue of access by young people to inappropriate material. My view on the web…the reason why I like it so much is because it’s freedom. You can do anything you want, whatever you want. If somebody doesn’t want to go and look at some sensitive material or something they don’t have to. If parents are worried about their children looking at it, I’ve seen evidence that satisfies myself that can stop kids from doing things like that. But my view of the web is that you can say what you want and nobody can stop you from saying what you want. It’s just absolute freedom of speech. You can say what you like, do what you like, and there’s nobody that can actually…. Because, okay (someone could) say, ‘Take it off or I’ll put a lawsuit against you’. All you do is go and put it up, pay somebody in another country over your credit card or something… I don’t think I’ve

Web publishing by young people


got anything sensitive on my site but that’s what anybody can do, if they decide to. Conclusions

All three of these young people are experienced and expert users of a publishing medium which was adopted and adapted very quickly by a section of the population who traditionally have been excluded from producing other media. Their views show a developed understanding of the capabilities and deficiencies of the medium, and the sites they have produced are testimony to their expertise. As more and more users begin to experiment in the area of web publishing, they will have much to learn from these young early adopters of the technology. On the other hand, these portraits, although not in any way statistically representative, raise a number of questions. All three authors are male and, superficially, resemble the privileged ‘nerdy’ Bill Gates stereotype. This is not to make critical judgements about these three young men, but to underline the obvious point that the new digital economy is going to be run by the same socio-economic male groups as the rest of society unless some of the imbalances between the ‘information poor’ and ‘information rich’ can be ameliorated. It is obvious that Stephen, Josh and Michael come from privileged backgrounds, not just in terms of financial support but in terms of cultural capital—the knowledge infrastructure that helps them succeed. Second, these characters point to a need for schools to support a developing subject specialism. Of course, individuals like these will find other support mechanisms if they need to, but all three have a developed sense of professional expertise which could be refined and shared in a formal teaching environment. However, the profoundly skilled nature of these individuals begs the question of how to integrate the occasional student like this into an inclusive curriculum—other than by making them the teacher! Finally, all three of these case studies worked at the commercial interface of web publishing. If anything they were embarrassed by their own ‘writing’ and preferred to mediate the work of others. Josh and Michael gradually erased their personal expressions and Stephen’s account of the hamsters is touchingly childish in the context of complex HTML authoring. This begs the real question of who is going to provide the content now that the means to publish in multimedia is so widespread. Although young people can now reach new audiences on the Net it does necessarily mean they have anything new to say. Again, this offers an opportunity for adult intervention and support and here again the formal education system may have more to offer than it may first appear.

Chapter 11 Teaching online Issues and problems Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett

Although this chapter describes a unit of work in higher education it has a number of direct implications for teachers at all levels of the education system. The authors outline how they went about designing and making an online unit of work teaching about new media. Learning how to make best use of the medium’s interactivity, how to present blocks of information and learning how to teach students how to use the web’s vast resources are going to become ‘classic’ challenges for teachers working with new media—although this challenge will obviously be different for different age groups. This discussion not only touches on common pedagogical interests but it also raises a set of questions about what might constitute the content for study about digital arts. As this mode of teaching becomes more widespread, so the issues and problems faced by these authors will be shared by an increasing number of teachers. At the same time, the content of this unit of work will be finding its place across a number of traditional academic subjects.


T his brief sur vey of issues relating to the uses of Infor mation Communication Technologies (ICTs) in higher education focuses on the teaching of media studies at an introductory undergraduate level. In general, incorporating ICTs in higher education may take any or all of the following forms: using ICTs to deliver courses; delivering practical courses in the use of ICTs; and analysing ICTs as an object of study. However before examining any of these forms, it is useful to be aware of the shifting context in which such work might take place. Following the recommendations of the 1997 Dearing Report on the future of higher education, universities are engaged in a debate around the concept of key skills, and their role in the university curriculum. Key skills are defined in relation to recent trends in workplace and employment requirements. This debate is as much centred on identifying the nature of these skills, as it is on how they should be delivered and by whom. For example, should they be an

Teaching online: Issues and problems


integral part of a specific subject area’s programme of study or delivered as part of a separate course of generic skills delivered throughout a university? Whatever ultimate definition of key skills a university might focus on, this will always include ICTs in some form; and the provision of courses which enable the development of students’ computer or digital literacy is, in particular, a priority. However, the term computer literacy is problematic.1 It is highly contextdependent for its definition and, as such, is open to a wide range of interpretations. Some see the ability to word-process as the full extent of students’ needs, some the ability to navigate the web, and use email; whilst others might include extensive production-type skills or the ability to use certain software packages. On media-related courses the implications for students are further complicated by the fact that here the computer, as a medium of communication, is also an object of study. In other words, how to use computers may be taught alongside critical theories which seek to defamiliarise and problematise that usage. Teaching students how to push buttons (which is often how computer literacy ends up being interpreted) is ultimately unproductive as it tends to be result in package-based training in specific software. This is a Sisyphean task for writers of these packages because of the rate at which software is updated or rendered obsolete, making it impossible for universities to keep up to date with changes in either the technology or its adoption in the commercial sector. A more fruitful definition of digital literacy might be one that focuses as much on conceptual development as it does on skills training. Digital literacy would then have to entail an understanding of the concepts that underlie the software as well as the socio-cultural contexts that may shape its application. Designing ICT-based courses (institutional constraints)

Developing any practical ICT-linked course requires careful planning not just in terms of structuring intellectual content, but also in negotiating the accompanying pedagogical and technological issues. The integration of ICTs into teaching requires a customised environment if teaching and learning strategies are to be deployed effectively. In an on-site context, distinctions must be made regarding the status of computer facilities. For example, in some universities rooms containing computers are often provided for basic word-processing purposes on an open access basis, most commonly set up on a typing-pool type model. This setting is not easily compatible with the use of computer facilities for course-delivery purposes. The layout of rooms for word-processing tends to focus on using the space to contain as many computer units as possible leaving little available space for other forms of work. A dedicated teaching-room which can


Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett

accommodate both online delivery of content, and student interaction with computers for design or production purposes, needs to be approached on a different spatial basis—and preferably be placed at a distance from wordprocessing rooms to mark the boundary between two distinct cultures of computer usage. Computers need to be spaced far enough apart for students to lay out any materials they may need—from graphic elements and photographs to manuals and files. In addition, the desk areas should be organised so as to allow students to converge on a single focal point where presentations and demonstrations can take place. Here there should be an overhead projector screen, a workstation hooked up to a projector and a whiteboard plus OHP facilities. This arrangement enables a range of possibilities for content delivery and also makes it clear that the computers are part of an integrated programme (see Figure 11.1). If the computers are networked throughout the institution for administrative as well as teaching purposes this can make accessing files extremely slow: a dedicated server for teaching purposes eases this. There should also be additional open work surfaces which students can use individually or congregate around to enter into group discussion particularly if any collaborative projects are being undertaken. The overall effect should be that of a working studio space—commonplace in art colleges but not always so readily a part of university culture. The inclusion of resources such as colour printers and scanners is essential, as well as headphones so that students can download from or add audio to web sites without disturbing each other. This kind of space should be basic for foundationlevel students, but for more developed multimedia work other resources may be needed. In addition to these considerations, any area in which students are working with computers will need to be close to some form of technical support service. Although some HE institutions are operating online help facilities,2 as a way of encouraging students to problem-solve themselves and additionally to support remote learning, if students are on-site there will be a need for personal contact—if only for the purposes of reassuring students that they have diagnosed particular problems correctly. Students vary in their degree of independence, and these variations may be affected by a number of factors such as their particular educational experiences and expectations. This is most obvious when introducing online courses to students accustomed to more traditional face-to-face learning situations. Thus, the level of support required by students is not always predictable and some kind of response team is needed. Many universities separate technical support staff from academic staff, particularly in areas where approaches to teaching technology are still being formulated. To develop effective teaching programmes using ICTs these boundaries need to be broken down, so that each staff grouping is working towards the same goals. This is particularly important when dealing with

Teaching online: Issues and problems


Figure 11.1 Diagram of ideal teaching space Key: 1 networked student terminals on outside of room enabling all student screens to be in full view of tutor and that students can swivel round toface the projection screen 2 desk in middle for collaborative group work and seminar discussions 3 networked tutor’s computer 4 data projector linked to tutor terminal and OHP 5 projection screen 6 white board 7 black and white printer 8 colour printer

technologies subject to such rapid change as no one individual can keep abreast of all developments; collaboration is crucial. Designing ICT-based courses (course content)

We will now move away from these general considerations to a discussion of course content via a brief case study of a recent course delivered as part of the undergraduate media and cultural studies’ programme at Middlesex University. This course centred on critical approaches to the study of the Internet, including an introduction to the logic and grammar of the Net, its conventions, its users and its wider socio-cultural importance—all delivered through a combination of theoretical and practical Net-centred work. One of the principal aims of the course was to develop a critical digital literacy but it also acted as an informal pilot for testing the effectiveness of its delivery


Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett

mode. The course was an optional element rather than a compulsory core component of the overall degree; run as part of a daytime degree programme, it consisted of weekly sessions each of three hours and all based in an onsite Apple Mac Studio. The group was composed of students either majoring or ‘minoring’ in media and cultural studies in combination with a range of other subject areas. Some of this group had taken courses, either as part of their degree or outside the university, in subject areas which had introduced them to computer use in diverse forms or had engaged with computers on a less formal basis— from playing games like Doom to data processing. As in the other studies in this book, it could not be assumed that these students had had similar experiences of the Internet or were even aware of how to navigate it. So before beginning any practical Net-based exercises we needed to know individual students’ level of knowledge in this area. We prepared a questionnaire for the group and issued it in conjunction with a group discussion which focused on identifying the factors that might have prompted students to opt for this particular course. This also allowed us to re-state the course’s emphasis on analytic rather than vocational skills. We would suggest that this kind of discussion about prior experience of the Internet should always be part of any Net-centred course for the reasons outlined here—some students may be far more familiar with the web as surfers or producers than staff or other students and this needs to be addressed in the learning environment. The ideal approach for tutors dealing with students’ differential knowledge would seem to be a collaborative one. As with technical staff, different user groups can start to work together effectively if differences are an acknowledged part of the teaching and learning process—although that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy negotiation. Therefore it is essential to find a mode of delivery that allows for such variations. Resource Based Learning (RBL) materials might be employed to allow students to work at their own pace, whilst group work can be useful with the possibility for sharing information. Student expectations of using the Internet beyond the boundaries of a particular course should also be clarified at an early stage; if students have a desire to learn a set skill for the job market they may resent the discursive elements of a course, as these can appear to cut into what they may see as training time. Therefore the rationale of a particular course needs to be made explicit. In our course, the questionnaire and accompanying discussion indicated that a significant proportion of this group had little or no direct experience of the Internet, associating computers primarily with text work—such as word-processing essays. Therefore students started with hands-on sessions, navigating around the Net and collecting a body of examples that could be used in the next stage of the course—the introduction of academic critical material about the Net. This section of the course had a traditional lecture/ seminar format, using projections of onscreen data to illustrate or clarify

Teaching online: Issues and problems


examples used. Our objective here was to avoid a situation where students and staff end up discussing ideas put forward in lectures or reading in the abstract, which can then result in complex issues being interpreted by the student group in an overly simplistic manner. To support the learning process students were issued with a course reading list that combined references to materials available in print form with references to relevant web sites. As part of their course work students were encouraged to amend or annotate this information from their own research online. The list was transferred to a web site delivered locally. Of course, being able to use the Net for research purposes is another dimension of digital literacy and involves more than just knowing how to access information efficiently, or even how to disseminate material via a self-created web site. It requires skills in critiquing and evaluating available material, for example which web-site information has more status than others, as well as the accuracy and authenticity of its content.3 To develop such awareness Net research skills were foregrounded: this can be done either as an integral part of such a course or as a tailored training session (McNabb & Winship 1996). The next block of the course was structured to enable students to undertake a practical exploration of web-site design and production. Students used the package Adobe Pagemill, one of a number of packages available in which HTML, the computer scripting ‘language’ for web sites, is embedded. Pagemill operates on a simple visual system, similar to the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment many of the students were familiar with from using Windows. For study purposes using a program like Pagemill (rather than HTML) allows students to produce their own web sites relatively quickly. These can then be used to form the basis of a sustained discussion of, for example, design conventions on the Net. This seminar group was provided with an RBL tutorial about Pagemill. This material contained a mixture of step-by-step exercises and examples. Students were given further references to existing web sites which provide introductory online tutorials in web production (see list of online resources at the end of this chapter). Initially students appeared overawed by this practical component, and despite the earlier discussion, the questions raised here were primarily focused on the technical aspects of web-site design; questions which indicated a desire to do it to the right level—the level being measured against notions of employability. However, we gave the students a brief—to construct a web site that verbally and visually represented a theoretical debate encountered on the course—and they started to build web sites using their own materials (see Figures 11.2a, b and c). In these practical sessions students tended to concentrate their efforts on the visual elements of their design. Graphics were scanned in via Photoshop and, just like the younger pupils described in previous chapters, engagement with Photoshop was characterised by an obsession with the tools provided by the package. Typically an image would be subjected to every form of available filter—cropped, tilted,

Figure 11.2a Example of student’s web site

Figure 11.2b Example of student’s web site

Teaching online: Issues and problems


Figure 11.2c Example of student’s web site

blurred and so on. However, when students realised that they could incorporate images from existing web sites, they became unwilling to experiment with their own visual materials, which were abandoned in favour of found material—although some students were anxious that this might be interpreted as plagiarism. Another aspect of their production work highlighted in discussion was the desire of some students to incorporate the most recent and most technically sophisticated features of other web sites into their own sites, such as Real Audio, Real Video, not always with regard to the role these might play in the communicative process. Students were encouraged to be open about these desires, yet formulate critical approaches to their own work which could be used to interrogate their design choices. Interestingly, when incorporating written-text elements into their sites students tended to work in a more formalised way (see Figures 11.3a, b and c). Rather than producing onscreen, the majority wrote out detailed essay plans—drawing on their existing knowledges of the conventions of the essay as a genre. This made the transferral of such material to a web site awkward and slow as students were attempting to assimilate linear and non-linear forms. Often hyperlinks were added as an afterthought rather than integrated into these web-based texts. When selecting typefaces and type styles for their work many students were more cautious about their choices than they had been in image

Figure 11.3a Example of student’s site using text in a ‘traditional’ way

Figure 11.3b Example of student’s site using text in a ‘traditional’ way

Teaching online: Issues and problems


Figure 11.3c Example of student’s site using text in a ‘traditional’ way

production. Here the tendency was to adopt a mimetic approach so that these areas of the text were not dissimilar in appearance to a standard printbased essay. The students seemed more conscious of issues of register in relation to their implied audience in this context and their focus appeared to be on the communicative purpose of the text. By contrast, their choices of images might be interpreted as relating to aesthetic considerations and were therefore less of an anxiety (see Figures 11.4a, b and c). There are a number of possible explanations for this. The academic culture, in which the students were working, is one in which written (rather than visual) work is assessment-linked. This might inhibit students trying to experiment with new forms if they are also trying to produce work that gets them high assessment grades. Combining text and graphics is commonplace on a number of courses, most obviously fine art degrees, but it may be awkward to introduce in a context where student work is predominantly print based. The seminars following these hands-on sessions were used to discuss the student responses outlined above. In particular, they offered an opportunity to debate the validity of the specific characteristics of digital media frequently cited in analytical studies, such as interactivity and non-linearity, the distinctions between analogue and digital media forms, and the ways in which digital forms can be manipulated and transformed. By this stage, individual

Figure 11.4a Example of graphics on student’s web site

Figure 11.4b Example of graphics on student’s web site

Teaching online: Issues and problems


Figure 11.4c Example of graphics on student’s web site

responses to the production of web sites had become a valuable element of the learning process, although more time would have aided the effectiveness of such sessions. The final seminars were less structured and students used this time to refine and finalise their web sites. To support work outside the seminars, students were given the option of email contact with their tutor, as a means of gaining response to work-in-progress and to provide a space for the kind of ongoing discussion associated with the more traditional seminar. Student usage of this form of interaction varied, some took it up sparingly, others not at all, a small proportion expected immediate responses at any time of day or night—making it clear that email interaction requires guidelines. The boundaries between students and tutors here must be negotiated as carefully as in face-to-face encounters. Conclusion

Inevitably courses centred on the Internet raise other issues in educational contexts. There can be resistance within universities, as well as schools, to the idea that students be allowed unlimited or unsupervised access to the Net. This is particularly evident in the form of anxieties expressed about students’ potential exposure to morally suspect material—especially pornography and neo-Nazi propaganda—and also to the possibility of


Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett

students circulating dubious material on the Internet which could be traced back to a university. Other concerns raised are similar to those often cited in relation to computer games and it appears as if some academics may have bought into the ‘moral panic’ surrounding computer game playing, dismissing it as a passive activity of low cultural value. Surfing on the Net is often represented as having similarly negative connotations, unless it is for strictly academic purposes under controlled conditions. This fear merely replicates divisions apparent in the debate between ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures, in which activities such as surfing or gaming are measured against more traditional forms of cultural activity such as reading books. After all, even if students are reading for pleasure, reading may be seen in itself as a potentially worthwhile activity, whereas surfing the Net is not usually accorded the same status. Similarly, even though it could be argued that ‘playing’ with technology, be it computer games, surfing the Net or using email to contact friends is a valid way to learn about the technology, such an approach is rarely valued by the academy. In the case of computer games, playing can encourage an intuitive, experiential approach to learning which promotes the kind of adaptability and flexibility essential to keeping up with changes in computer technology. It could also be argued that game playing often inducts players into informal communities of like-minded people with whom one can share advice, discuss techniques and so on. This kind of communication again fosters the kind of ‘virtual-social’ skills needed to cope with online distance learning. Another objection often raised in relation to the web is that of plagiarism because of the relative ease with which students can download material and the relative difficulty of tracing such material. However, plagiarism can be just as hard to detect when material comes from traditional sources such as books, or other students, and often the material is so unsuited to carefully tailored assessments that it is evident to the marker that it is not original. Ultimately, only when teachers become more familiar with the medium, and begin to feel they are in control, will this cease to be a hindrance though it should also be pointed out that this argument about student plagiarism is part of a much larger problem of defining copyright and ‘originality’ in the digital era. Another set of arguments raised in relation to students’ interaction with computers is the limited use of scarce resources. Many computer rooms have limited ranges of software, and although many students are able to use facilities in multiple ways, email or Netscape may be disallowed without a tutor being present; or we have come across instances where only real academic work (i.e. word-processing) is allowed on these machines. Of course, concerns about resources are very real but they may also be used as a means of displacing the other anxieties that many teachers feel in relation to computer technology. These worries include a fear that the technology will be used to reduce staff numbers, that it will force staff to teach more students, and that it will devalue the importance of face-to-face teaching. It is important for

Teaching online: Issues and problems


educational institutions to be sensitive to these anxieties. Teaching staff engaging with ICTs in whatever form also need the opportunity to debate how the technology may be used, as well as having access themselves to courses which foster the kinds of critical digital literacies that may become expected of our students. This chapter has described the issues involved in putting an undergraduate module in media studies—including practical work—online in order that teachers working at other levels of the education system can get some sense of the benefits and problems involved in developing this kind of teaching. For all the differences in vocabulary and academic difficulty there are striking similarities between this example and the other chapters in this book. The range of experiences students bring with them is not so different and the kind of mixture of practical skills and critical thought needed to make sense of digital culture is also the same. It may be that as ICTs begin to impact on the education system so teachers at all levels will have much to learn from each other and an equal amount to contribute to defining new modes of teaching and learning in the future. List of online resources

The list contains examples of the kinds of resources already available for planning and teaching this type of course. Classroom Connect Site for teachers and educators. Includes teaching resources such as an online forum, information on how to use source engines. The Global Schoolhouse Internet resource for educators features a schools database, useful for understanding current/future delivery of technologies in schools. BECTA Links and information on education-related topics. Pagemill


Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett

Guide to Pagemill, web-authoring software. The Rough Guide to the Internet Introduction to the web including technical information, guidelines for surfing and a glossary of terms. Starting Point Selection of tools with which to navigate the web. TONIC (The Online Netskills Interactive Course) Web Developer’s Virtual Library Information about HTML and web programming—links to sites dealing with web design. The BBC

http: An introductory tutorial about the Internet. Authoring Hypertext–5.html An advanced resource list for authoring hypertext based at Brunel University. Digital Media A resource list of academic articles based on University of Iowa degree programmes in communication studies including study of digital media. Art and Design and

Teaching online: Issues and problems

137 An introductory guide to using ICTs in art and design. Digital Culture A resource list from the Manchester Institute for Popular Culture containing sites about digital culture including design, fashion, music, TV, visual arts and zines. Notes 1 See Lankshear (1997) for a comprehensive discussion of the concept of literacy. 2 Online facilities can be supported via the Internet or an intranet—an intranet is the network accessible solely via the server of the operating institution. Although the original culture of the Net is egalitarian and democratic, these very features can be seen as problematic in an HE context. A number of HE institutions are moving away from using the Internet other than for promotional purposes, for example presenting information on courses for prospective students, mission statements and other marketing materials. They are choosing to use their own intranets as a means of controlling the circulation of information—an increasingly important and saleable resource—by removing it from the public domain. Whatever the ‘political’ position taken on this, using sites on an intranet as a part of course delivery has a definite advantage over the Internet in terms of speed, because it is circulating over a more restricted area. 3 For example, some students seemed to think that the status of texts circulating on the web was indistinguishable from that of, say, an academic text published in a traditional form. Moreover, many students chose to download information from selected sites and read this as a printed text; its material properties such as the use of typeface and graphics, combined with the fixity of the printed page, serving to reinforce their perceptions of such a text’s authoritative status—even without an identifiable author or publisher.

References Lankshear, C. et al. (1997) Changing Literacies Buckingham: Open University Press. McNabb, A. & Winship, I. (1996) The Student’s Guide to the Internet London: Library Association Publishing. Smith, A. & Webster, F. (eds) (1997) The Postmodern University? Contested Visions of Higher Education in Society Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Chapter 12 From hardware to software The resource problem? Julian Sefton-Green

Many of the projects described in this book touch upon the problem of resources—the kind of equipment, space and staff necessary to carry out a range of creative productions. As a whole, the book describes a variety of projects taking place in different kinds of institutions from primary schools to higher education. Of course, these establishments organise their resources and are funded in very different ways. Yet, despite these differences, the projects share a common set of concerns about the ways hardware and software is actually utilised in the pressures of the classroom. This chapter draws some of these concerns together and attempts to provide a framework for setting up and running digital arts projects.


At the heart of many policy documents, curriculum discussions and institutional plans—at national and local level—lie the vexed questions of resources. Indeed the whole histor y of the spread of Infor mation Communications Technologies (ICTs) into the educational system has been accompanied by a sceptical counter-discourse focusing on two key questions: how to organise ICTs in schools, and the economic problem of paying for it all. I should say right away that I will not be discussing this second problem in depth here. Ensuring equality of provision does trouble a number of teachers every day and it clearly underpins a number of the projects described in the preceding chapters but ultimately it is a political challenge and needs to be addressed in the political arena. However, the chapter will concern itself with the problem of organisation: where ICTs should be placed in the school or arts organisation; how they should be used within the curriculum; and what are the essential components of equipment needed to develop creative work. In particular I will be paying attention to the relationship between software and models of teaching and learning. It will not be a Which computer guide and it will not offer a detailed comparison of various hardware technical specifications. There are other



and better publications for that. Indeed the extraordinary growth in computer self-help publications, weekly and monthly magazines testifies to a deep obsession with these questions, possibly, as we shall see, at the cost of considering other educational questions. The chapter has been put together as a result of several interviews with education officers, media artists, schools IT co-ordinators and others, all of whom have contributed their experiences. Of course these individuals’ experiences are not statistically representative, and I am sure that there are others who can offer a different interpretation of the issues. However, a coherent set of problems did emerge from these discussions and it is this which forms the heart of the chapter. From this perspective it should also be clear that I am not seeking to paint a rosy picture of the role of ICTs in arts education. There is no doubt that ICTs can and do bring immense opportunities for all sorts of exciting work with young people. Work in digital media is setting the tone for aesthetic expression into the next century. Yet, facilitating educational institutions, like schools, to help students participate in these changes, does seem to pose a series of challenges to the ways these institutions have been traditionally run. One main aim of this chapter then is to lay out these challenges as explicitly as possible in order to help media artists and educators make the most appropriate decisions about organising resources for their particular circumstances. Institutional problems

This section deals with some of the human resource questions around the implementation of digital arts projects and raises a number of questions about purchasing strategies and procedures. In particular it draws attention to the importance of the post of IT co-ordinator in relation to the opportunities for work with ICTs open to subject specialist teachers. A recently appointed IT co-ordinator made the point that her interview had clearly been conducted by people who did not know what they were looking for. Although this might be a general perception of all interviewees, the comment clearly runs particularly true when it comes to making IT appointments in schools. It is unlikely that there are any members of senior management who have extensive experience of working with ICTs, yet such is the level of popular public awareness, that all interview panels are likely to include self-taught amateurs. In addition, appointment committees are not likely to have a clear sense of what they are looking for, given that many IT co-ordinators are as likely to be appointed for individual flair—rather than demonstrating core knowledge and skills. This point would be supported by the pattern of entries for NEMA where the work of ‘enthusiast teachers’ rather than school policy was most evident. This is quite unlike a notion of a strong department, where an on-going tradition and a shared education by


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members of a team can develop a departmental approach. In the ICT field individual preferences are as likely to be influential and ‘teams’ may comprise no more than one teacher and a technician. One IT co-ordinator may like spreadsheet software programs; another believes KidPix should be standard. One believes in supporting the curriculum in-class; the other in withdrawal to a computer lab. One likes Apple Macs, the next Windows and so on. This reliance on the individual, in the absence of whole-school traditions and policies, would be less of a problem were it not possible for individuals to effect sweeping changes in a comparatively short period of time. One of the main roles of an IT co-ordinator is to purchase new equipment and this they have to do according to the budgetary cycle of an institution. Thus, finding a quick way to deal with an under-spend—a common problem at the end of each financial year—or upgrading equipment for the sake of it, or indeed being able to buy for the school the hardware and software you believe in, frequently motivates spending on computers. The fact that schools nowadays take responsibility for their own purchasing (as opposed to it being under the control of a local authority) means that individual teachers often have to go ‘shopping’ as part of their job, and they are as vulnerable in the educational marketplace as they would be to any commercial sharp practices. Indeed buying into the need to upgrade, which drives so many computer advice magazines, is a real problem as the educational institutions try to compete with some students’ ICT provision at home or in the industrial workplace. All of these factors exacerbate a tendency in ICT provision in schools to change at a unhealthy pace and thereby to possess an inbuilt insecurity and lack of direction. Although many IT teachers claim they need to keep up to date with changes in the marketplace, this reliance on change often means that no student will be able to start and finish at a secondary school, for example, using the same platform or program. A school setting out to develop a curriculum using, say Photoshop, from years 7 to 13 would find it difficult to see through these sorts of plans. If the result of this insecurity were to teach students to adapt to a changing workplace this would not be so bad, but the reality is that students spend a disproportionate amount of time learning how to use ICTs for the first time, rather then developing competence in depth. For creative subjects, this inbuilt tendency to change can be doubly problematic. First of all the Art department, for example, needs to buy into or follow central changes in the school and be able to accommodate developments there. There can often be friction between specialist departments and the centralised ICT resource of the school. The fact that ICTs can, in theory, be used for a whole host of activities often means that schools can justify large one-off expenses. However, the infrastructure and training does not always exist to make use of these possibilities. Traditionally,



specialist departments have pursued their own agendas and run themselves autonomously. This situation will need to change to make best use of wholeschool ICT resources—unless schools can afford to reduplicate expensive equipment across departments. Second, we come to the problems of peripherals, such as scanners, printers and digital cameras, which are as important for the kind of work discussed in this book as is the main computer. Here, people in schools often complain that not enough is invested in peripherals in terms of time for training. Equally who pays for the ink cartridges, printing paper, etc. can often be a bone of contention as, in these days of delegated budgets, nobody wants to take responsibility for the costs of consumables. At the same time, as Sue Williams pointed out in her chapter, schools often allow only the IT co-ordinator or technicians to open up equipment to replace cartridges etc. Again, this reliance on central staff, who are often double-booked, can be a problem The key issue underpinning all of these concerns is the management of whole-school resources. Here, the presence of a member of staff with wholeschool responsibilities needs to be balanced against subject specialist enthusiasts for ICT. Secondary schools, in particular, suffer from the compartmentalisation of ICT into its own subject area of IT—although as the previous chapter argued, these kinds of distinctions are not just peculiar to the school system. Hardware and peripherals

Computers now have their own folklore, part of which revolves around the fact that as soon as you buy a piece of equipment, you can get the same item at half the price or a doubly powerful piece of kit at the same price the next day. There are a number of broader economic reasons for this all of which seem to conspire to make the purchase of equipment difficult for teachers. Most purchasers I spoke to had rationalised this problem for themselves by arguing that they always bought equipment to carry our specific tasks and that they always recommend that subject teachers know what they, the teachers, wanted to do with the equipment, rather than worrying about what the equipment might be able to do in terms of its technical specifications. From this point of view some of the contributors to this book have drawn attention to the hidden extras involved in digital arts. Hard disk space for storing large graphics or video files, extra RAM for making the best out of the complex industry-standard software, scanners or digital cameras for inputting material, Wacom tablets to enable pressure-sensitive drawing, enough copies of software on the network, high-end printers for outputting students’ work at quality—all of these costs can easily be forgotten as schools invest in new technology, yet without such components creative projects won’t even get off the ground. Again, balancing these costs between subject


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departments and centralised resources can often be a flashpoint for institutional conflict. Revenue cost for projects also fall between cost centres. Who should pay for the colour ink cartridges, the phone bill for the extra time spent online, the web space on the server for the large web-site project, registration with the Internet Service Provider, or even the installation costs of an ISDN line? Again, several of the authors contributing to this book have pointed out that it was often stumbling blocks such as these which caused the greatest antagonism. Frequently it is these costs which often appear to hold up whole projects, and budgeting in as much detail as possible is strongly advisable. Of course, networks of advisers or support from experienced teachers can help pre-empt many of these practical problems. Many of the projects described in this book also make the point that you often need intensive use of as much hardware as possible to ensure equitable access for large classes. Here borrowing equipment, moving it around or block booking the computer lab seems advisable. Being able to supervise small group work is crucial, so having a crowded and noisy space is often preferable to running all over the school to find small groups working elsewhere. (A helpful hint here is to ensure that each machine has a pair of headphones firmly attached to it.) However, it should be stressed that the projects described in this book make use of a range of hardware configurations. Some of the projects were very well supported, but some do describe shared use of equipment, rotating groups around key facilities or even just doing things inefficiently because that was the only way to get them done. Again, focusing on what you want the project to achieve is crucial and from this perspective the key ICT investment isn’t in equipment, but in the knowledge and skills of staff to make best use of what is available. Software

Many of the chapters in this book describe the use of industry-standard software, such as Photoshop, with students of all ages from 5 to 17. In discussion, the accessibility and appropriateness of ‘creative’ software, that is software most useful for arts projects, was hotly debated. On the one hand there is a range of software produced directly for the educational market (e.g. KidPix, HyperStudio) and, on the other, as I have suggested, industrystandard programs including Director, Photoshop, or web-authoring HTML software. Of course, there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both types and experienced teachers tend to have highly individual preferences in this area. Some educators argued that the industry-type programs have vocational relevance: that using them provides a kind of training for possible future work in students’ careers. From this perspective the more familiar students are with complex programs, the more comfortably they can use them in a



range of settings. Equally, the more complex programs allow a greater range of production activities. For example, Photoshop enables users to scan in images created elsewhere (in virtually any format) as well as all kinds of text and image manipulations. Although a complex program, it is a multi-purpose composition tool allowing the teacher or artist or able student a full range of creative possibilities. The ability to input original material is very important for those educators who dislike children’s reliance on clip art, maintaining that it encourages a superficial and un-conceptualised use of visual imagery. On the other hand, the programs produced for the education market have been favoured precisely because they can support students in this way. From this opposing perspective, some teachers, including some of the contributors to this book, argue that clip art allows children to work in the visual domain even if they are unconfident about their drawing or graphics skills. Clip art, it is suggested, enables a visual look and a feel, even to the extent of working with icons, especially if the students cannot express themselves in visual terms. Here the use of visual pre-sets, such as the use of different kinds of brush stokes or patterns in the paint facility, allow students to experiment and express themselves (albeit through pre-determined categories). As several contributors have argued, programs like KidPix or HyperStudio are also relatively foolproof in that there is a restricted range of options and the interface is highly graphical, thus allowing students to feel comfortable and confident about finding their way around. A counter-argument here comes from those teachers concerned to maximise the full potential of these projects for able students. Although the industry-type programs are complicated, once the teacher has shown students how to use a limited range of options, students can work within the programs, and the more able student can begin to find her or his way around the complex options in their own time. Finally, there is a debate about the quality of the output. The programs produced for the education market have a more limited range of output options and have been accused of all looking the same, while the industry-level programs obviously allow for a high level of production quality. In practice this discussion is not as polarised as I have represented here because teachers often move between these kinds of extremes. It is important to be aware of the fact that proponents of one ‘school’ or the other often describe their own aims, as educators, in different ways. Thus practising artists working in schools, ex-practitioners who focus on multimedia training and teachers coming from a wide variety of subject backgrounds all bring differing knowledge and expectations about these kinds of software to the creative uses of ICTs in school. This can be both advantageous and problematic. One way of progressing beyond these discussions is provided by the software manufacturers themselves. Thus, initially simple programs, like HyperStudio increasingly possess more complex options in recent versions, whilst Adobe (the manufacturers of Photoshop) have launched a ‘cut-down’


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version of the program (Photodeluxe) aimed at the domestic and educational market. A problem here is that software manufacturers are often caught between making products that are able to do everything and offering programs that are simple to use. However, some manufacturers now offer graded versions of the same software with the option of ‘easy’ and ‘advanced’ settings. The increasing tendency of programs to become enormously complicated and often able to do a huge number of tasks does pose a challenge for education. Ultimately there is a tension between the pedagogical nature of a program’s interface—how it supports, structures and facilitates tasks—and the commercial nature of the software market. This dictates that complex programs are so expensive that schools cannot afford to buy either multiple copies of the same program or competing versions of similar programs, for example, two kinds of image-manipulation software. In other words, it is unlikely that one single school can offer either a variety of programs or enough access to the programs it has. This is a substantial difficulty, given that an obvious solution to the problem of software variation is to be able to give students a range of opportunities across a range of software, supporting learning where necessary, but offering potential for individual development as well. Of course this means that staff have to be polylingual as it were, that is, versed in more than one or two programs, and this poses yet another challenge for teacher education. In the end any discussion about software in this context is really a discussion of how students learn. Because schools are unlikely to own more than one kind of program that serves a particular function (e.g. imagemanipulation software) and because staff are unlikely to be versed across a range of programs in their specialist areas, software is always going to be used to meet a number of objectives at the same time. However, the discussion about interface design, quality of output, the use of pre-existing material and so on, are all bound up with how we conceptualise how students use the software both to learn about the software itself, and the projects they are working on. As many of the chapters in this book testify, students are often product driven and the software is only a means to an end. We know how that end is mediated by the tools we offer and the structure we impose on the learning experience. The more familiar teachers become with a range of software, the more they will be able to focus on students’ learning during the process of creative production. Conclusion

The government is presently considering a raft of initiatives to combat the perceived resource gap in schools. These range from strategies to develop teacher competence in ICT, via stepping up entry requirements in teacher training to providing in-service training for teachers in ICT funded by the



National Lottery’s Sixth Good Cause. The National Grid for Learning represents an attempt to build a partnership with private enterprise thus facilitating greater access to online experiences. In addition, a number of commercial interests, especially supermarkets, offer means to support ICT equipment in education. However, this pattern of rather patchy provision doesn’t even begin to address the kinds of questions discussed in this chapter. As I discuss more fully in the next chapter, the academic subject-based structure of the curriculum coupled with the current assessment regime clearly militates against the development of the kind of multimedia arts practice described elsewhere in this book. In turn, this system is not helping free up staff or equipment for work in digital arts. Paradoxically it likely to be the ever-expanding domestic market which is likely to provide the greatest spur to work in the digital arts. Here, ever more intuitive programs, such as the web authorware which requires no knowledge of HTML, or ever cheaper and simpler peripherals, from digital cameras to printers, are all providing the equipment needed for creative production. Developments in the fields of leisure entertainment are driving much of this change. However, not all teachers are enthusiasts and keeping up with this market is an effort in itself. Furthermore, keeping up with the students who keep up with these changes is even more of challenge! However, the kind of pedagogical questions about teaching, learning and structuring support during digital production should not be left in the hands of the commercial leisure sector if we really want to empower our students to participate in these developments. Ultimately, there is no substitute for thoughtful teachers working with a relevant and meaningful curriculum. From this perspective the case studies described in this book suggest that teachers need to be involved not only in the development of software for the education system, but also need to be able to feed back their experiences of piloting projects into the process of curriculum reform. This may change the emphasis away from a perceived gap in material resources towards an approach which values developing expertise in the field. It may be that the political climate is not yet quite ready for this model of curriculum development but it is surely an important way forward if we wish to build a meaningful education system for the future.

Chapter 13 A framework for digital arts and the curriculum Julian Sefton-Green

The subtitle of this book—the challenge of digital arts—is intended to be more than just a rhetorical flourish. As noted in Chapter 1, digital arts are neither a fixed entity nor do they occupy a single space within the curriculum or the lives of young people. Indeed, the contributions to this book have covered a wide range of activities across both the age range and the formal and informal education sectors. Contributors have tried to make links between the cultures of children and young people and the demands of the academic curriculum. All of this suggests that digital arts do genuinely pose not just one challenge but a number of challenges at a number of different levels. The preceding chapter tried to draw together some of these issues which revolve around the nature and use of ICT resources. This concluding chapter will attempt to map out the scope of the field in an effort to set an agenda for changes in practice, at school level, and in the wider arena of educational policy. The challenge for the curriculum

The first and most obvious issue for creative work in multimedia is how to integrate such work into the present structure of the National Curriculum. Many of the projects described in this book argue in detail that the organisation of the school day with its narrow subject disciplines, short working periods, and heavy assessment workload is diametrically opposed to the principles of digital arts where there is an emphasis on group work, extended project-based activities and inter-disciplinary investigations. In primary schools especially, the recent and extraordinary attention to a restricted definition of literacy—focusing exclusively on the basic skills of print literacy—also seems at odds with the notion of multimedia literacies underpinning much of work described in this book. At the same time, as I noted in Chapter 1, it proved very difficult to find accounts of digital arts work in secondary schools. As Irene Ordidge suggested in her chapter on the NEMA awards, the emphasis on testing in Key Stage 3 and 4 has the effect of restricting opportunities for multimedia projects for this age range.

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It is true that some digital arts work goes on inside the subject spaces of Art, English or Media Studies, but extensive projects, like those recounted by Vivi Lachs or Rebecca Sinker, are obviously difficult to set up. Indeed, some of the best examples of work in multimedia located in secondary schools actually come from after-school computer clubs or voluntary extra-curricular activities, such as the project Andy Jones described which was more like a form of curriculum extension work. Of course it is important to note that these kinds of tensions are not exclusive to digital arts. The British educational system has always had a rather schizophrenic approach towards the traditional and the modern and there are many instances where contemporary needs and ambitions are in conflict with conventional values and practices (see Education Group 1991). From this point of view digital arts becomes yet another ‘subject’ caught up in this debate. On the one hand, politicians and educationalists extol the values of digital technology and advocate the use of computers within the curriculum; on the other, there is a belief that the school system should provide a solid foundation of basic skills and that these are best prepared through tried and tested methods. Equally, whilst cultural and curriculum modernisers embrace the spirit of the digital age, so the traditionalists advocate old-fashioned humanist values and a belief in the civilising function of high culture. These contradictions will take time to resolve. Whilst we live in a country that is still trying to figure out how best to use calculators in mathematics, it may be at best naïve to imagine that digital arts will play a central part in the curriculum. However, the enthusiasm and excitement generated by digital arts projects is evident from all the accounts collected here and given that these tensions are not going to be ‘solved’ one way or the other, it is important that these case studies can stand as evidence for the value of this work. Only by making the argument that this kind of work offers a unique educational experience can we hope to influence the educational agenda. Yet, at times, these projects can appear complicated and time-consuming. Indeed, one slightly negative conclusion, to be drawn from all work, is just how much effort by staff and resources must have gone into these projects. This is not to say they weren’t worthwhile—again, all the chapters bear evidence of the value of the students’ experience—but that they are the product of individual vision and commitment. The fact that so many of these projects were supported by additional financial resources is also pertinent. On the one hand, these examples strongly imply that you need a very high level of input to achieve results; but on the other it may be reasonable to imagine that as more and more teachers do become familiar with the technology and interested in the field, so it will become that much easier to develop projects of this nature. Ultimately, as I suggested in the last chapter, the problem of resources will not stand in the way of developing digital arts in the curriculum—there is a


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host of pressures that is encouraging their growth— but it will hinder their development equally across all sections of the educational system. Finally, I want to suggest here that there is much to indicate that multimedia is well on the way to becoming a new cross-curricular subject; and that this development should be treated with caution as well as optimism. I am referring to the fact that multimedia projects are often devised as a way of delivering ICT and that they are often valued, as in the chapters by Vivi Lachs or Jo Booth, for the ways they enable general educational activities to occur. Many of the case studies here identify a number of these: working in groups; the value of pre-production planning; the fact that students who are traditionally excluded from our education system can participate; the high premium placed on discussion, decision-making and negotiation; the fact that other core skills (for example, numeracy, design work, keyboards) are used in the production; and finally the fact that the product can be displayed and used by a peer audience. This is very reminiscent of how drama in education was developed in the 1970s as a tool for learning, almost as a multipurpose medium, for working in any subject. So, it is suggested, multimedia can act as a similar servant to the curriculum, in that it offers a means to explore other subjects in an imaginative and motivating fashion. On the one hand, multimedia thus feeds into a shared notion of a ‘creativity curriculum’, that is, those general arts activities which develop not only a range of transferable skills but develop children as individuals. Like drama, multimedia teaches a host of salient modern competencies, which are both specifically vocational (in that young people are likely to work with some kind of digital technology in the future) and pre-vocational (in that they embody a way of working which will be of general use). Equally, multimedia offers an inventive and innovative way into traditional subject knowledge. On the other hand, a rush to embrace this potential may neglect some of the particular aesthetic and cultural issues which are central to how we evaluate digital arts and the quality of the teaching and learning that goes on in such projects—and it is to this issue that we now turn. The challenge for evaluation

A number of the contributors to this book are concerned about the question of how to evaluate work in digital arts and multimedia. This ‘problem’ stems from a number of interrelated perspectives. First of all, we have the problem of where the digital arts activity is located and whether to evaluate the product from the point of view of the traditional subject in which the digital arts activity took place, or whether we need to develop new criteria for this emerging field. Thus, evaluating multimedia authoring in Science may either take place from a science point of view, or a multimedia perspective. There are also few criteria available, and certainly they are

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unlikely to be held in common by digital arts teachers, as to exactly what we look for in digital arts work. Digital arts activities are valued for their general educational benefits (working collaboratively, decision-making, etc.) and, as has been frequently noted in relationship to assessment in drama, this can lead the teacher into an assessment of student’s individual personalities: a process not only open to the accusation of prejudices, but probably one beyond the moral judgement of the teacher (see Hunter 1994). These kinds of approaches concentrate on evaluating the process but what sense can we make of the product given that there are, as yet, few specific criteria about what makes good or bad digital arts? The NEMA competition discussed in Chapter 6 makes a few suggestions for judges in this field, such as appealing to a target audience, but again these tend to be rather vague and non-specific. Even when digital arts activities are located within the subject Art it is not clear how to make sense of the products. The Rosendale project, described by Rebecca Sinker, and, at the other end of the age scale, Andy Jones’ account of Translocations are necessarily stumbling in the dark here. Do we evaluate students’ grasp of authoring packages or their capacity to imagine in the new medium—how students are beginning to conceptualise what such projects need and how to shape them? How can we do this when there are no models of good practice enshrined in a curriculum anyway? What, for example, exactly would make a good web site? When is a product genuinely interactive and when does it merely ape fashionable conventions? Should we encourage students to imitate commercially available material or should we encourage them to develop their own voice? Is the avant garde arts practice which is driving much of the industry good or helpful for students? These kinds of questions do not need single answers but they do need to be discussed by teachers, probably with artists or multimedia practitioners, in practical and comprehensible ways, if digital arts are to make some headway in schools. It is not so much that we need established traditions to be able to make these kinds of judgements, but that teachers need to have thought about these issues and to be able to work with criteria which are relevant for them and their pupils. Again, only when enough students have made and shared enough digital arts work will we get any sense of a meaningful agenda for work in the future. This problem of evaluation also relates centrally to the difficulty of what exactly constitutes a digital arts’ artefact. In this book we have encountered examples of students’ work ranging from web sites to CD-ROMs, yet in each instance the students themselves re-fashioned the genre of what they were making, due not only to curriculum pressures, but to the fact that the boundaries around these products are themselves so changeable. For example, in the work described by Vivi Lachs, the students made hypertexts, which the local authority, Hackney, published. Yet, although the teachers there used computer games as a model for designing and making the products, what the


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students eventually produced, was a hybrid. It mixed up ideas from games with a notion of children authoring instructional resources. Hypertext stacks may underpin many a CD-ROM but they are not, by and large, read and consumed by students, in the way that other products, like stories or pictures, which we invite them to make in school, are available. Similarly the ‘expressive web sites’ discussed by Sinker or Jones are not only removed from children’s experiences, but themselves are only just beginning to define themselves around a series of acceptable styles, r ules, codes and conventions. The challenge for teaching and learning

This issue is compounded by the fact that many of the projects discussed in this collection use a fairly open ‘progressivist’ approach in the classroom. All of the case studies collected here try to deal with the problem of how to introduce students to the new technology, and certainly how to mix up the need for initial skills-training in the software programs (including generic use of the computer, such as opening and closing files) with the desire to hand over imaginative projects to the students. Most of the projects began with simple exercises at the computer, or planning and sketching in other media before moving on to an extended activity. However, none of the projects here suggest imitating commercially available work1 —possibly with the intriguing exception of the young people discussed by Chris Abbott— and they advocate a kind of structured discovery-based learning. Students are encouraged to take ownership of these productions and the medium is merely a set of practical constraints. Here, work in digital arts builds on the notion of learning-through-doing which underpins much of the excitement and enthusiasm behind working with computers in broad-based IT education. There, the great message of the early ICT educators, such as Seymour Papert at MIT, was that children’s ‘innate’ inquisitiveness made the computer a kind of ‘natural’ playground in which children could explore and through which they would develop their minds (Papert 1993). There are serious criticisms to be made of this approach, chiefly that it romanticises an ideal of a creative child (Sefton-Green 1998), but the point I want to make here is that digital arts—as defined by the projects collected in this book—have inherited a flavour of this philosophy. It may need to be ameliorated through an approach which pays attention to defining and teaching the necessary skills required to use the computer for creative expression. This is one of the key arguments put forward by Roz Hall and Darren Newbury. These skills may include generic computer use (mouse and keyboard) or they may be program specific. They may also include the ability to articulate critical knowledge about design and genre from children’s prior knowledge of digital arts’ products or they may involve a consideration of aesthetic issues. In other words, as I noted in Chapter 1, the term ‘skill’ may be a

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problematic and overly politicised word to use in this context, in that the contributors to this book are not just suggesting how to operate a computer, but how to use it in making expressive products. This is where the idea of literacy comes in, because that concept encapsulates a notion of basic skills in concert with critical knowledge required for communication within the wider culture (see Barton 1994). However, any attempt to describe this range of skills, or literacies, also carries within it an implicit agenda for defining the role of the teacher because it suggests knowledge or capabilities possessed by some and not others. It also implies that there are ways to inculcate such knowledge and capabilities. In this collection, teachers occupy a number of roles and I want to conclude this section by analysing them. Helen Cunningham and Miriam Rivett are very clear that inventing online resources changes the role of teacher. They are not arguing that such methods dispense with an idea of the teacher. The authority of the teacher may change, certainly the teacher is not a conduit for the transmission of a set body of knowledge, but teachers do have role in structuring learning for students—and the structures teachers invent will, de facto, define how the learner progresses. The other contributors to this book occupy a range of other roles. At times teachers act as facilitators, whilst at others they almost act as impresarios or producers, either providing resources for students or simply the contexts for them to make digital arts. Several of the teachers described in the preceding chapters are unusual, in that they were brought into school environments as either artists, arts educators or advisory teachers. Of course parents, peers and auto-didacts (the self-taught) are the ‘teachers’ in Chris Abbott’s account. All of these varying roles add up to a modest but persistent challenge—that digital arts may be contributing to the ways we might need to re-formulate the pedagogical relationship between teacher and taught. As I have been at pains to emphasise, this will not replace some of the traditional roles of the teacher, but the contributors to this book do all suggest, with varying degrees of explicitness, that successful learning in digital arts requires that activities be set up, structured and evaluated in subtly different ways to some other curriculum activities. As with other forms of arts education, this may prove to be an enduring contribution to curriculum development. The challenge for education and cultural policy

Several of the authors collected here make the case that the new technologies allow young people to enter the economic sphere of cultural production. As Jo Booth argued in her chapter, one of the great claims made for the new technologies is that they allow traditionally disenfranchised groups, such as children or young people, access to mainstream means of production and distribution. However, although all of the projects developed in formal educational settings are more widely available than is usual with children’s


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work—either on CD-ROM or online—this contention still seems unproven. Abbott’s research does suggest that the web can offer a kind of ‘short-cut’ to economic opportunity and social respect for some young people but we cannot extrapolate broader social trends from these few instances. It is certainly true that being able to make artefacts which will be exhibited beyond the school is both highly motivating for students and encourages them to think of school activities much more in terms of working in the ‘real world’. However, whether access to the web or CDs, for example, merely lends credibility to the simulated nature of a school project or is part of a widening access to full participation in culture must remain an open question. From this point of view, it is important that schools encourage other young people to find, read and enjoy work made by their peers and to stimulate a culture which values digital arts made by the young. If the range of material young people consume as a matter of course is broader than that traditionally made available either through the school or commercial channels then work made by young people will begin to change our expectations and definitions of culture. These early case studies then, may perform no better service than beginning to shift this debate about cultural values. I would be equally ambivalent about the claims of digital art to be heralding a new era in the field of art and the arts in general. One constant theme across all of these case studies is the absence of barriers between high and popular culture. This is partly due to the nature of the projects recounted here, but the ways in which all the different students included in these studies seem to have enjoyed and benefited from working in this new medium is impressive. Of course, some of this ‘newness’ is illusory. The work with photography and graphics may take place in digital formats but the content and styles build on an arts practice which pre-dated the computer. Yet, most of the students encountered in this book seem to have embraced the technology and found it a dynamic way to express their own cultural and personal interests. Although some of the artists and teachers working with the children may have felt they were at the forefront of an innovative and avant garde practice, the ways these students quickly took ownership of the digital medium is an encouraging sign of how accessible multimedia can be. The genuinely eclectic nature of the students’ work, drawing on diverse sources from popular culture to the schools around them, does point towards the opportunities for a more democratic culture than that promulgated by the institutions of high art—though we should not be naïve about the political and economic forces which will continue to support the barriers between art and the digital arts. Indeed we are already witnessing a process by which some digital arts are recuperated back into the exclusive domains of high culture. The complex work described by Andy Jones, for example, is open to the criticism that, for all its educational value, the work produced by the students is not

Digital arts and the curriculum


going to appeal to all: it is intellectual and, in places, highly theoretical. Here we must be aware that the web is not just a very large place but as capable of replicating social hierarchies as the real world. As the medium continues to grow it is important that we do not allow its potential for participation to remain empty rhetoric. The fact that all of the web can be accessed does not make it accessible to all. Here work in digital arts must continue to work in culturally dynamic ways that genuinely involve the concerns and interests of young people. This argument about accessibility in the arts does, of course, go to the heart of a broader social concern: how to develop equality of access to digital technology in general (see Browning 1997). Indeed it has frequently been observed that we are living through an era characterised by a divide between ‘the information rich’ and the ‘information poor’. In particular, it is interesting to note that nearly all the students described in the preceding chapters, at all ages, had very limited access to the Net. From this point of view these case studies are immensely encouraging, as they describe a number of ‘information poor’ environments relatively quickly transformed by well-organised curriculum initiatives. Of course we would need to multiply these accounts by the rest of the classes in the school to really argue that digital arts can have a wider social effect. If we calculate quite how much effort went into these studies we can then appreciate how much more work is needed to affect access for the school population in general. This is a direct challenge posed by digital arts. The authors collected here make, it seems to me, a very strong case for the value of their work. What is more, the value of their teaching exceeds any accusation of a parochial interest in the arts. They all make the case that work in digital arts has significant transferable value—that the quality of the learning is, quite simply, worth the cost. This is more than adequate evidence that Information Communication Technologies education would benefit from drawing on these experiences in digital arts. Indeed we would all argue that far from being on the margins, digital arts go to the heart of an important challenge for the British educational system—how to develop a relevant, demanding and meaningful curriculum for the next century. Hopefully, this book will go some way to place the creative uses of new technologies high on the agenda for curriculum reform. Digital arts offer a way of working creatively with young people and new technology. Such an approach begins to address a key political problem facing educationalists—how to ensure equality of access to a common set of skills as well as a shared culture—and it does so with a set of activities and a way of working that is both enjoyable and stimulating. If we want young people to be able to harness the full potential of digital technology, then we need to give them as much control as possible: making digital arts offers a powerful point of entry into the new technologies that will determine all our futures.


Julian Sefton-Green

Note 1 The Times Educational Supplement has carried accounts of schools that have set up multimedia workshops and work to commercial briefs and Irene Ordidge’s chapter does refer to schools who use multimedia to produce corporate publicity material, such as school web sites.

References Barton, D. (1994) Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language Oxford: Blackwell. Browning, J. (1997) ‘Plugging in’ Demos Collection 12, pp. 15–19. Education Group 11 (Department of Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham) (1991) Education Limited: Schooling, Training and the New Right in England since 1979 London: Unwin Hyman. Hunter, I. (1994) Rethinking the School; Subjectivity, Bureaucracy, Criticism Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Papert, S. (1993) The Children’s Machine New York: Ablex Books Sefton-Green, J. (1998) ‘Introduction: being young in the digital age’ in Sefton-Green, J. (ed.) Digital Diversions: Youth Culture in the Age of Multimedia London: UCL Press.


Abbott, Chris 9, 150, 151 access: computer technology 25, 121; Internet 108, 121, 133 action research approach 101 Adobe: see Pagemill; Photoshop advisory teacher for IT 13 aesthetics: digital media 139; multimedia 28–9; new 4, 5; practical 5 affective response 34 Angelfire 114 animation 15, 17, 21, 63–4, 86 anonymity 106 armed combat games 66 art: avant garde 4, 6, 149, 152; digital/ mainstream 152 art department, ICTs 140–1 Art and Design 136 artifice, web site 113–14 artists: and audience; expectations 24; multimedia 83; new media 4; projects 40; pupils as 37, 38; reflective practice 27; and teachers 28 Arts Council of England 5–7, 42 Arts Council Media Arts Education Scheme 22 ‘Attack of the Blobs’ 66, 67 audiences: and artist 5; children’s work 29–30, 34, 38–9; digital work 38–9 authoring: as learning 21; multimedia 12, 28–9; software 58; World Wide Web 119 Authoring Hypertext 136 Bailey, Fiona 22–3, 26 Bankfoot First School, Bradford 42

‘Bankfoot Photo Show’ 51–2 ‘Bankfoot Times’ newspaper 48 Barton, D. 151 BBC 136 BECTA 9, 57, 135 Bender, G. 4 Bones, Northgate School 60 Booth, Jo 8, 42, 52, 148, 151 boundaries, blurred/crossed 4, 12 Brighton Media Centre 32 Brighton University, School of Education 32, 34 Browning, J. 153 browser technology 119 BT CampusWorld 72, 112 Buckingham, D. 2 Bulletin Board 112 Burley Middle School 68 Café Surf 100, 101, 102–9 camera angle 44 captions/text 44, 49 ‘Catching Up With the Kids’ 32 CD-ROMs: interactivity 50; motivation from 17–18, 20–1; The Moving Picture Science Show 12; Photowork 42 ‘Channel’ 5 Chatroom 120 children’s work: audience 29–30, 34, 38–9; ethics of production 55; evaluation 57 Classroom Connect 135 clip art 76, 143 cloning 36 Clout, Geoff 42



coins, web page 104, 105 collaboration of pupils 26, 80; digital technology 35, 37, 38; English language 19; exploratory approach 35; fairness 37; Internet course 126; mixed ability 19, 21, 148 colour use 34 Common Ground 71 communication: Internet 115, 134; National Curriculum 21; new models 28–9 community projects 5–6 community publishing 111 computer literacy 123 computers: access to 25, 121; attitude towards 28; classroom management 14; experts/non-experts gap 27–8; networked 124; teaching room 124; see also hardware; ICTs; software context 44 copyright 134 core skills 148 Cornish, S. 34 creativity: in curriculum 148; skills 150–1; software 142–4 cross-curricular work 3–4, 8, 23, 148 cultural capital 121 cultural policy, education 151–3 culture: artefacts 24; artists/teachers 28; and curriculum conflict 108–9; cyberculture 4; digital technologies 2; diversity 27; high/popular 4, 133, 52; and identity 9, 87, 96; networks 110n3; out-of-school 2; production 2, 3 Cunningham, Helen 9–10, 151 curriculum: creativity 148; and culture conflict 108–9; digital technology 6; ICT 82 Curtis, P. 110n2 cyberculture 4 cyber-skills 111

digital arts projects 138, 139–41, 147–8 Digital Creativity CD-ROM 34 Digital Culture 136 digital literacy 123 Digital Media 136 digital photography 25, 26 digital technologies: collaboration 35, 37, 38; cross-curricular studies 3–4; cultural production 2; curriculum 6; education 1, 3; gender differences 37–8; immediacy 35, 36; originality 134; processes 36–7; working practices 37–8 Director 86, 91, 96, 142 Displaced Data 83, 84, 85, 86, 97 drawing with mouse 17 Druckrey, T. 4 Dust, K. 28

Dahl, D. 28 Davey, Jo 24, 26 Dearing Report 122 DfEE 6 digital arts 3–5; aesthetics 139; evaluating 148–50; and mainstreamart 152; transferable value 153

games, multimedia 66 gender differences: digital work 37–8; representation of fashion models 46, 48; technology use 107–8 Geocities 114 geographic distance, as safety guard 103, 110n3

education: and cultural policy 151–3; digital technologies 1, 3; ICTs 6–7, 82, 140–1; networks 110n3 Education Group 147 email 26, 105, 133 Entrance Design Project, Hempshill Hall School 65 ethics, children’s work 55 European Multimedia awards 18 Evans, John 72, 76, 78, 79 expectations of projects 24, 54 experimentation 35, 36, 143 factual presentation, multimedia 65–6 family histories 87–8 fashion photography 46, 48 filters 36 focus 44 found material for web sites 129 framing 25, 43, 45–6 freedom on Internet 120–1


GIF Animator 73, 76 Gilroy, P. 87 Glebe Middle School 32–3 Glebe School Project 32–5; digital processes 36–7; digital techniques 35–6; digital working practices 37–8 The Global Schoolhouse 135 Gore, Al 6 government, ICT resources 144–5 graphics, web site 131–2 Greek legends 65–6 Grove Junior School 65–6 ‘The Grumpy Spider’ 64–5 Hackney, The Moving Picture Science Show 12, 13–21 Hall, Roz 9, 150 hardware: Glebe School Project 34; Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook 73; peripherals 141–2; Rosendale Odyssey 23–4; Translocations 85 Harland, J. 108 Hempshill Hall School 65 Hershman Leeson, L. 4 higher education 122, 124 Hobin, J. 34 Holland, P. 24 home pages 90, 91, 98; see also web sites hot text links 62 Hotdog 118 HTML 87, 103–4, 127, 142; Hotdog 118; making tables 116; updates 120 hub linking 90 Hunter, I. 149 hybridity as negated identity 87, 88 Hyper Action 71, 72 Hypercard 96 hyperlinks 88–9, 129–31 HyperStudio 42, 142; animation 14, 15, 17; buttons and stacks 50; ease of use 13, 23–4, 143; sense of achievement 26, 28–9; teachers’ training in 14; technical problems 5 5–6 hypertexts 149–50 ‘I Wish’ 64


ICT (information communication technology) 1; access to 25, 121; cost allocations 142; cross-curricular work 8; curriculum 82; in education 6–7, 82, 140–1; enthusiasts 68–9; higher education 122; key skills 122–3, 150–1; New Opportunities Fund 6; pupils’ attitudes 35, 73–4, 81; resources 70, 81–2, 138–9, 144–5; strategic approach 40; teachers’ attitudes 28, 80–2; teachers’ skills/understanding 32, 39, 40, 151; training for teachers 7, 144–5 ICT-based courses: content 125–33; institutional constraints 123–5 ICT co-ordinator 81–2; see also IT coordinators ICT educators 150 identity: constructed 4, 102–3; culture 9, 87, 96; and hybridity 87, 88; on Internet 102–3, 105–6, 107, 109; obscured 89–90 Illich, Ivan 106 Illingworth, Shona 22, 26, 27 images, layering 35–6 inequality, of access 121, 153 Institute of Contemporary Arts 5 institutional problems, digital arts projects 139–41 interactivity 13, 50, 67–8, 115, 122 International Institute of Visual Arts 5 Internet: access 108, 121, 133; collaboration in courses 126; communication 115, 134; conventions 88; curriculum development 100; democratic 136–7n2; freedom 120–1; identity 102–3, 105–6, 107, 109; Middlesex University course 125–7; prior experience 73–4, 87, 126; workshops 103–6; young people 9, 101; see also World Wide Web Internet café 100, 101, 102–9 Internet Relay Chat 102, 113 Internet Service Providers 114, 117–18 intranet 136n2 Isherwood, S. 24 IT advisory teacher 13 IT co-ordinators 139–40; see also ICT co-ordinators



Jenkins, Diana 30 Jones, Andy 9, 147, 149, 152–3 Jones, Philip 24 Jones, S.G. 110n2 Josh 115–17 Kai Soap 96 Kaushik, Anita 109 Kelly, O. 5 KidPix 142, 143 Kodak film advert 44–5 Labour government, National Grid for Learning 6, 9–10 Labour Party’s web site 116 Lachs, Vivi 8, 147, 148, 149 Laing Gallery, Newcastle 5 Lancaster, Janet 42, 52, 54 Lankshear, C. 136n1 layering of images 35–6 learning 106–9; active/passive 29; and authoring 21; program interface 144; software 144; web site 27–8 Lepore, Angela 80 Lewis, Dave 22, 26 Lighthouse 32, 34, 39 lighting 44, 46, 47, 48 linearity, and non-linearity 2, 50–1, 90–1, 129 literacy 2–3, 7, 36n1, 123, 146; visual 29, 32, 33, 42–3; see also digital literacy; ‘Multimedia Literacies’ Loveless, Avril 8, 34, 35 McKinsey & Company 6 McNabb, A. 127 McRobbie, A. 108 ‘Mad Mansion’ 66 Marlborough Road Junior and Infants School 72, 81–2 Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook 70, 73; evaluation 77, 80; examples 75–9; hardware 73; planning 74–7; pupils’ ICT experience 73–4; software 73 Meadowbank Special School 66 Media Arts in Education Scheme 6

media education 2, 33 Media Studies, assessment of projects 96 memory blanket 25 Michael 112–15 Micrografix Draw 73 Microsoft FrontPage 73 Microsoft Internet Explorer 116 Microsoft Netmeeting 120 Middlesex University 125–6 MIDI technology 2 ‘Moon over Manhattan’ 86 Morph 87 motivation: CD-ROM project 17–18, 20–1; multimedia 96 mouse for drawing 17 MovieMaker 87 Moving Picture Science Show 12; animals in action project 18–21; moon project 15–18; setting up 13–15 Multi-User Domains 109–10n2 multimedia: aesthetics 28–9; communication 28; cross-curricular 8, 148; evaluation 57, 61–3; extracurricular 147; factual presentations 65–6; games 66; interactivity 13; literacy 2, 146; motivation 96; National Curriculum 146; online 22–3; primary schools 60, 146; storytelling 23, 26, 64–8 multimedia artists 83 multimedia authoring 28–9; crosscurricular 8; evaluating 148–9; as process 62; software 58 ‘Multimedia Literacies’ 6, 146 multimedia publishing 42 Murray, Jayne 109 ‘Mute’ 5 Myers, Julie 22 narrative 34; see also linearity national/cultural differences 88 National Curriculum: communicating information 21; cross-curricular work 7; digital technology 6; IT 58; listening and speaking in English 45; multimedia 146; visual literacy 29, 43


National Grid for Learning 6, 9–10, 107, 144 National Lottery, Sixth Good Cause 6, 144 National Multimedia Awards 9 National Museum of Photography, Film and Television 42 navigational aids 74–5 NCET (National Council for Educational Technology) 9, 57, 58; see BECTA NEMA (National Educational Multimedia Awards) 57, 58–9; age groups of entrants 60, 61, 146–7; awards 59; entries 59–61, 67–8, 139–40; evaluation 61–3, 149; intervention by adults 63; judging 68–9; metaphors/genres 63–4 nerds 121 Netplay Café 109 Netscape 116, 134 New Opportunities Fund 6 Newbury, Darren 9, 150 non-linearity 2, 90–1, 129 North Kensington Arts Forum 83, 84, 85 North Kensington City Challenge 83 Northgate School 60 Notepad 73 nutrition project 33 OFSTED 7 online resources 124, 135–6, 151 online scrapbook 22–3 online teaching 9–10 opacity 36 Ordidge, Irene 9, 146 output quality 143 Pagemill 127, 135 Paint 73 PaintShop Pro 73 Papert, Seymour 150 parental involvement 24, 30 parish mapping 71–2 pedagogy, program interface/learning 144 peer group tutoring 35 People’s Lottery, The 6 peripatetic ICT teaching 71 peripherals, budgets 141–2


personal development 25–6 Photo Magic 73 Photodeluxe 144 Photographers’ Gallery: educationalwork 23, 31n2; multimedia exhibition 5; Rosendale Odyssey 22, 23; Translocations 83, 85, 86, 97 photography: conventions 44; as cultural production 24–5; digital 25, 26; education in 43–9; fashion 46, 48; pupils 24–5, 51–3; visual literacy 33 Photoshop 23, 34, 35, 86–7, 96, 142; image manipulation 50, 52, 127, 143–4 PhotoWork CD-ROM 8, 42–3; authoring 49–53; ‘Bankfoot Photo Show’ 51–2; ‘Bankfoot Times’ newspaper 48; evaluation 54–6; linearity 50–1; problems 43; teacher-input 52; technical problems 55–6 plagiarism 129, 134 Plowman, L. 50 pop music web pages 103, 104, 105 pop videos 2 poster design 34 primary schools: email links 26; ICTs/ cross-curricular work 8; multimedia creations 60; multimedia literacies 146 printers 141–2 prints from digital work 38–9 project co-ordinator 24 project management 85–6 Publisher 73, 76 publishing: community 111; multimedia 42; World Wide Web 111, 121; young people 42, 111 pupils: aims for project 13; as artists 37, 38; attitudes to ICTs 35, 73–4, 81; collaboration 19, 21, 26, 35, 37, 80, 148; gender differences in approach 37–8; ICT jargon 74–5; Internet use 87; motivation 17–18; pairing for project 19, 21; perceptions of project 34; personal development 25–6; SEN 18, 19 Ravetz, J. 4 reading list, Internet course 128 Real Audio compressor 120



Reid, E.R. 110n2 research for projects 17, 18–19, 21 Resource Based Learning materials 126, 127 resources: education/technology 3; ICTs 70, 81–2, 138–9, 144–5; policy/ practicalities 10 Richards, Derek 83, 85, 86 Rivett, Miriam 9–10, 151 RM Report 7 Roath Village Web 70, 71–2 Robinson, K. 28 Rosendale Infants School, Lambeth 22–3 Rosendale Odyssey 8, 22–3, 149; audiences/authorship 30; equipment 23–4; evaluated 27–31; photography 24–5; process 24–6 The Rough Guide to the Internet 135 Rowdown Infant School 64–5 Rushaija, Estella 83, 85, 97 St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College 83–4, 97 sampling 2 Sardar, Z. 4 school prospectus, interactive 67–8 Schools’ Teletext Project 72 Sefton-Green, Julian 2, 10, 150 self-esteem 19 self-image 33 Selwood, Sara 109 Serious Games show 4–5 servers 124 Sharp, C. 28 Sharpe, Susan 26, 29 Sinker, Rebecca 8, 22, 26, 147, 149 skills: core 148; creativity 150–1; cyberskills 111; ICTs 122–3, 150–1; informal 3; transferable 107–8 social hierarchies 153 software 142–4; for authoring 58; commercial 144; Director 86, 91, 96, 142; GIF Animator 73, 76; Glebe School Project 34; HyperStudio 42, 142; KidPix 142, 143; learning 144; Marlborough Road Online School Scrapbook 73; Photoshop 50, 52; for PhotoWork 42; Translocations 86–7

SoundEdit 87 Southfield School for Girls 67–8 special educational needs, pupils’ participation 18, 19 Spence, J. 24 Stanley, N. 24 Starting Point 135 Stephen 117–21 Stevenson, D. 6 story telling, multimedia 23, 26, 64–8 surfing 133 teachers: aims for project 13; and artists 28; attitudes to ICTs 28, 80–2; as demonstrators 36; development 5–6, 40, 60–1; expectations 24; ICT roles 151; input 147–8; interventions 37; skills and understanding of ICTs 32, 39, 40; training on HyperStudio 14; training in ICTS 7, 144–5 teaching: online 9–10; web site 27–8 Teaching and Learning technology Programme in Higher Education 107 teaching room, ICT 124–5 technology: children’s attitudes 35; gender differences 107–8; learning 106; as means to end 38 text and images 34, 44, 49 Times Educational Supplement 154n1 TONIC 135 Translocations 23, 90, 149; background 83–4; continuity outcomes 85–6, 97–8; educational outcomes 84–5, 96–7, 98; evaluated 96–9; hardware 85; learning process 86–7; product outcomes 85, 97; project management 85–6; software 86–7 trial and error approach 35, 36, 143 tutors, email contact 133 Underwood, G. 37 universities 122–5 ‘Video Positive’ 5 viewpoint 44, 45–6 Virginnet accounts 114 virtual community 108


visual literacy 29, 32, 33, 42–3 Walton, Kamina 24, 31 n3, 33 web designers 117, 119–20 Web Developer’s Virtual Library 136 web sites: achievement 98–9; for advertising 113–14; artifice 113–14; as communication 99; compared 87; constructing home pages 103, 112, 118–19; corporate 120; design 97, 116, 128; expressive 150; found material 129; free 114, 117; graphics 131–2; learning from 27–8; parish mapping 71–2; personal details 113, 114–16; planning 91, 92–5; pop music 103, 104, 105; Rosendale Odyssey 22; teaching 27–8; text elements 129–31, 137n3; tone of voice 117; updating 106


Welsh folk tales 64 Williams, Sue 8, 71, 141 Willis, P. 2, 109 Winship, I. 127 World Wide Web 102; authoring conventions 119; corporate pages 120; education 1; publishing 111, 121; pupils’ use 75–6; social hierarchies 153; see also Internet Young, J.R. 110n2 young people 2; as cultural producers 2; Internet 9, 101; publishing 42, 111; World Wide Web 102; see also children’s work; pupils Youth Net 102