Revisions and Second Year Implementation

Most notable from the year 1 evaluation was that particular targets of the inclusion of a portfolio were not being met, in particular the ability to see the portfolio as a way to archive, asses, analyze and reflect on personal learning processes.  This was further emphasized in the projects themselves, where external templates from sites such as wix were occupied with quantity rather than quality, and not much attempt was made to describe why certain artifacts were chosen to display, what they indicated about the students’ learning process.  The evaluation also showed a particular distraction on the facade or surface elements of online representation rather than substance of the content and how well developed and delivered it was. Students used and indicated a desire to use external platforms because they brought ‘individuality’ yet the templates became a “stand in” for displaying sense of self without consideration of how they could bring a deeper negotiation of display to subvert the templates.  So while the manicured effects of wix templates seemed attractive to the students, it distracted them from doing much more as the students bought into the gimmick of user interface design, form without substance.  The result was great graphics on the part of the external web builders, but not very well developed considerations on behalf of the students, thus “proof of learning” was limited, and the templates revealed themselves as lack of uniqueness. Secondly, when looking at the work and evaluation results, the goal of using the site to bring together a multi-disciplinary program of study in the media arts stream.  As a cohort model, students take Creative Writing, Journalism, Arts Studies, Visual Art and Film, taking on many perspectives of the overall make-up of media studies.  The cross-overs, over-laps, or separations were not negotiated in the work, as the most conventional of headings was utilized over and over again, always based in medium (i.e. photography, poems, film, journalism, etc) when students could have found common research interests that are found in different forms throughout the disciplines.  This multi-disciplinary perspective on their personal practice and convictions was not developed. As a result, I decided to revise the curriculum in two ways:

  1. Introduce a new journal entry into the course wherein students are asked to deliver 10 research questions that guide their work of all the disciplines.  The questions should be about ideas that provoke or motivate them and that they have a great investment (care) in towards understanding how we know and what you do in your work.
  2. Take away the option to use any platform, and instead keep decisions limited so that students can refocus energy on content rather than form.  I decided to use the new UBC arts portfolio platform, in that it challenges students to find individuality within its form, and keeps a protected, Canadian-situated hold at UBC.  I also adjusted the overall Portfolio rubric to emphasize the focus on quality of content and self-assessment of learning.

STUDENT WORK 2018 Results:  The refocus on substance (over style) was met with much resistance in using the UBC platform.  However, this misinformed focus is indicative of foundation first-year students in media studies in general, where external forms distract from more complex deconstructions of literacy and meaning.  This is unfortunately a condition of Visual Arts classes in general, that was emphasized with this project, and this will be used to inspire larger teaching moments in re-structuring of the curriculum for year 3.

However, for students who could engage with the restructuring focusing on quality of content, the results were stunning. The following are examples by students using the very limited UBC platform: