Edutechie - the adventures of a learning technologist

Eli Appleby-Donald's views of educational technology

Month: May 2019


My digital capabilities adventure continues – thing 1 & 2: social media


So it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, my mocha has somehow mysteriously evaporated and my wife is ignoring me for an afternoon with Assasin’s Creed. I think that means it’s the perfect time for me to write my first official blog post on my digital capabilities adventure with 23 things.

The task at hand for week 1 and 2 is to write a short blog post about my aspirations for this journey and to think about the social media guidelines for my company.

Personal objectives

I’ve been watching the various cycles of the 23 things events for the past few years and always thought it sounded like something fun to do, but never quite managed to feel like I could justify the time work wise for something which was clearly just a bit of fun and not proper work. Sound familiar to anyone? However, I’m at that stage now where I’ve realized that I can’t just be serious and straight laced all the time, it eats away at your smile. So lets break out the fun!

OK I’m being a bit silly but there is a serious message there, I watch gamification and learning through play etc etc being discussed and events being run at work all the time, but it’s not something I could claim I “get”. By that I mean, I’m not sure I understand what constitutes play in a higher education, learning environment and more so I don’t understand 100% how it works. I always use the lego example cause I haven’t yet managed to grasp how building stuff with lego can help you to learn (in certain subjects, topics etc).

So there is my first thing, I want to treat something academic related in a playful manner in the hope that it will help me conceptualists the playful learning thing a bit better.

My second aspiration is a bit simpler, I already know I have a knowledge gap around attribution, licensing and digital content so I’m using this experience as scaffolding to help me develop better habits around this area. So just now it’s about making sure I tag photos etc when I do these posts, I plan to move that further into a bit of a tidy up and correction of these glaring mistakes in previous posts and then take that out into my personal blog, which would be a huge task so not one for straight away.

I know this list of aspirations will grow as I progress, because the more you learn, the more you understand that the gaps are bigger than you realized.

Social media guidelines

The task asked if I was aware of the guidelines and my opinions. So here we have a conundrum. Yes I was aware of the company social media guidelines as I have worked and still work with social media for my role. Part of those guidelines are all about being aware of how your social media use reflects on the company, which I understand and to a degree I agree with especially if you are using social media for a purpose as part of your job.

Where I don’t agree with is …. no wait. Am I allowed to say that on social media? Big brother might be watching. *chuckle*

I think then that the best social media guidelines might be as simple as Wheaton’s law.

Animation studio. Photo by Eli Appleby-Donald 2019

A place where learning happens, pedagogy and a construct: studio


When you work in learning and teaching, it’s bread and butter to discuss pedagogy over coffee at least once a week (maybe that should be scone and butter then), but when you work in learning and teaching in an art college, that conversation usually confuses the hell out of people. But really it shouldn’t. There isn’t anything super mysterious about the way teaching happens in most art subjects, you’ve just probably never heard it named this way.

So what is studio?

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the term studio, especially in relation to art and design, is the physical place. Which is absolutely correct. The studio is the place where learning happens, where students work, socialize, support each other and where their tutor provides feedback to help them improve.

It dates way back, in fact historically, we can go back to the Middle Ages and the term Atelier.  This was the term used to describe the situation of the workshop or studio of a professional artist where the one master or principle artist worked together with a number of students or apprentices to create fine art.

“Ok Eli that’s simple enough, we all know this.”

Well yup, but the confusion happens when we start to talk about studio as pedagogy, as a method for teaching. That’s usually where the coffee conversation starts to dry up.

The physical studio may look different in different disciplines

But why a pedagogy?

A signature pedagogy is “the classroom moments reflecting the discipline’s way of thinking, knowing, doing and feeling” (Motley et al., 2016:224). For art & design teaching, studio is the signature pedagogy in use. They are epistemological and ontological but for art practitioners, they are also axiological.  Artists, as we heard about in the atelier model, haven’t just learned about a subject, they live the life of that subject matter. The philosophy of what it is to be an artist is embedded into teaching. Artists value collaborative and cooperative ways of working. They learn from each other. This is an integral part of teaching in art and design, the teaching of tacit and explicit knowledge through modelling practice. The tutor doesn’t just embody the practice in a physical sense, but the insider language and culture used and developed amongst practitioners.  If you like, we could use the simple terminology of preparing the student for actual life as an artist as opposed to teaching them about it.

Expression is never solely of one art alone. That is, when we practice an art, such as glassblowing, we express more than the practice of glassblowing itself: we express an entire history of learned corporeal knowledges. (O’Connor, 2007: 113).

I suppose this is a good point to mention that although we are talking in general terms about studio teaching, it’s good to remember that throughout the entirety of art and design, there are also discipline-specific practices.

Setting wicked problems

One great example of modelling practise is the setting of wicked problems. Design studio teaching forms around project briefs and problem setting, usually problems that are grounded in the realities of professional practice. The tutor sets a project brief which usually has an ill-defined problem that the students need to address, the answer the students seek may change as the student grapples with solving the problem.  The students work on these projects in the studio, both alone, but with their classmate working on their solutions around them, and collaboratively with their classmates as a peer learning and support network. Throughout their time working on the project, tutors will provide feedback and guidance. At various points throughout the year, the students will present their work to the tutors, professional practitioners and their classmates for “critique (crit) sessions” intended to stimulate reflection on and discovery of their learning through reviews and student questioning.

So just a quick hurl around the concept of studio, it is such an amazingly interesting and intricate concept that I could easily write all day but maybe for the purpose of a wee blog post, this is enough. Feel free to come grab a coffee with me and chat more though.


O’Connor E, (2007) The centripetal force of expression: Drawing embodied histories into glassblowing. Qualitative Sociology Review 3(3): 113–134.

Motley P, Chick NL and Hipchen E, (2016) A conversation about critique as a signature pedagogy in the Arts and Humanities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 16(3): 223–228.

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