GLAD Conference 2014 – my thoughts

What is GLAD…? 

Group for Learning in Art and Design 

For those of you who don’t know about GLAD, it was established in 1990 as a grass roots network to improve student experience and stimulate debate in art and design education. This year’s conference theme looked at the studio and what it means to a student in 2014.

So, leaving Maidstone on a 6.25am train (destination Sheffield Hallam University) and retuning home at 9.30pm, we had a very packed day. Along with my co-presenter and work colleague Annamarie Mckie, we presented a poster session entitled a place of my own: reflective, formative online spaces for learning, teaching and assessment.

The poster displays the 3 main stakeholders and the benefits each stand to gain from using an innovative online space within the VLE that tutors can place formative feedback and students can respond. Click on the image below for a larger version – so you can read more about what these benefits are.


See poster above and here’s the background and case study.

The Keynote address – Revisionism v Chaos; The Studio Terroir was delivered by Professor Paul Haywood, Deputy Dean at Middlesex University. I found this talk to be the most inspiring part of the conference. Paul spoke and how a child learns by experience as construct but then is taught from parents etc. how things should look and gave painting as an example. He then took this theory into the artist’s studio and how ‘learning to paint’ has evolved through the centuries. He spoke of the moulded child/artist as being an inhibitor through construct – and does our current model of teaching foster a true creative process. His presentation displayed rich imagery and the red house struck a cord.

The second keynote – Open and Connected Classroom : A Show and Tell Presentation was delivered by Jonathan Worth, a photographer and teaching fellow at Coventry University. He spoke about the power of the virtual world and how someone’s images can be credible, believed and authoritative – or not as the case may be. His work with students explored questions about the benefits of the internet and the power of people connected together regardless of experience or qualification and how this has made a transformative impact on everyone’s lives. It led me to think about social boundaries and the absence of them in the virtual world – one example being the QuizUp app where you find yourself playing with someone in Texas (anywhere in fact) but complete strangers and people having ability to demand a rematch should you beat them, and if that’s not enough a chat tool and discussion board should you want to go deeper with making connections.

In terms of the planned workshops and presentations, the first focused around the technical studio and modes of student learning. I’ve highlighted the key aspects below:

  1. One day un-assessed workshops so students can learn freely and make mistakes – the notion of not being assessed opens a debate about the freedom to explore/experiment without the fear of being penalised.
  2. Google maps used as an icebreaker (for a digital literacy workshop) to see where students are located (even 2nd years)
  3. Pinterest used as collaborative boards to share visual dialogue and output.
  4. How students perceive feedback was another hot topic as some feared technical feedback, which students often sought and valued was not considered by students in the NSS.
  5. Helen Makin from Coventry University stated the delivery of making skills comes no longer comes from academic staff but from technical staff. The attitude from some sees the quality of making is a lesser skill to the conceptual skill. Consequently, technical staff feel somewhat short-changed and under valued – and I can fully sympathise here knowing what they are paid compared to academics.
  6. Students not turning up to workshops was another common problem, but as paying customers they expected workshops on demand and often one-to-one if they missed the planned session.
  7. Technical staff felt they needed more integration with project briefs in order to tailor and maximise learning outcomes – they saw themselves ‘working too much in the dark’,

The afternoon workshop explored the meaning of failing and how this relates to the studio space. In groups, we were asked to write a manifesto, this is our group’s offering:


‘The studio and how to fail in it”

  1. The studio is not destination transition
  2. Celebrate failure with less assessment and more scrutiny
  3. Failure is linked to a learning outcome
  4. Less prescription – allow some privacy
  5. Failure is contingent – students need to know this

1 thought on “GLAD Conference 2014 – my thoughts

  1. Pingback: GLAD Conference 2014 | UCA Library & Student Services Staff Development Hub

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