High aspirations: transforming dance students from print consumers to digital producers

Alvarez, Inma (2013). High aspirations: transforming dance students from print consumers to digital producers. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, article no. 16.

URL: http://jime.open.ac.uk/jime/article/view/2013-16


During 2012, the Dance Department at the University of Surrey developed a set of Open Educational Resources with a Creative Commons license (Attribution, Non- Commercial, Share Alike) for dance studies as part of the JISC-funded project Contexts, Culture and Creativity: Enriching E-learning in Dance (CCC:EED) see http://contextscultureandcreativity.wordpress.com/ for details. These OERs exemplify a pedagogical model of openness by unleashing creative learning ideas that combine revised subject specific activities, freely available audio-visual resources, and newly digitised materials from the National Resource Centre for Dance archive. With its emphasis on technology, this project enabled both lecturers and students to see the interrelationship between the articulation of knowledge through creative processes and digital literacy, and to appreciate how these connections allow for new developments in pedagogy, performance and practice.

Designing and testing OERs revealed, on the one hand, a number of needs with respect to the institutional involvement and technological infrastructure, namely, acquired software, Virtual Learning Environment design, staff technical competence, and support. It also encountered some obstacles related to educational expectations (such as content responsibility and degree of learning autonomy), levels of digital literacy (including lack of awareness of adequate copyright practices, and of online help), accessibility to technology, and perception of the role of technology in formal learning in theory and practice based dance modules. On the other hand, the creation of these resources showed great flexibility and unexpected creativity from the learners. More importantly, it meant a transformation of both classroom-based and independent learning. This work moved teaching practices from the distribution of print materials to the facilitation of online activities for personal reflection, self-testing and collaboration. The introduction of e-learning packages pushed the development of staff and students' digital skills, and initiated a move to a learning model where learners influence objectives and methods (OPAL, 2011, p. 3).

This paper highlights the potential transformative impact of OER production and reuse for Higher Education dance students. It focuses in particular on the challenges and opportunities that arise from aiming at encouraging students to become producers of digital objects by engaging with digital resources. The idea of the 'student as producer' has been highlighted by Mike Neary (2009) based on Walter Benjamin's concept of the author as producer. Neary argues that we need "to reinvent the relationship between teacher and student, so that the student is not simply consuming knowledge that is transmitted to them but becomes actively engaged in the production of knowledge with academic content and value" (2009, p. 8). Neary's proposal is that we should facilitate research or research-like experiences in our undergraduate programmes in order to transform them into "productive collaborators" (Neary 2009, p. 9). The design of the OERs in the CCC:EED project were inspired by these pedagogical ideas.

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