This paper will draw on the authors’ experiences of anecdotal student feedback regarding fatigue with learning through digital resources. While the disruption of the pandemic called for a rapid transition to digital delivery, we consider the extent to which this should be employed as an ongoing pedagogical practice. In other words, should what was seen as innovation now be accepted as business as usual?
As academics and course leads in a multi-disciplinary institution grounded in the tactile processes of making as a tool for thinking (Ingold, 2010), the authors have observed a loss of hand and haptic skills across pandemic cohorts – as has also been seen in a range of contexts within and outside education and training. In addition to this, an imagination deficit has been observed, where the instability of the current world of students, the digital sterilisation of content, and the threats of Artificial Intelligence have resulted in a hesitancy to experiment and a loss of the hope that fuels imagination. Whilst not a direct focus of this paper, there is a relationship between these observations, and a more general concern for the wellbeing of young people immersed in digital technologies.
The conditions of the pandemic required a rapid digital pivot in education and has resulted in a vastly different teaching and learning landscape. In a previous paper we outlined the opportunities and flexibility afforded by hybrid delivery modes when creating student Communities of Practice as a method of cohort building across disparate classes (Goddard and Vickers, 2021). We then went on to contribute to a deeper institutional study of the benefits of Microsoft Teams as a platform for hybrid teaching under the title of Studio Teaching on the MS Teams Platform as a Scalable Model for Innovation in Education (with colleagues Emma Mills, Chloe Cassidy, Karin Watson, and Dr Mark Ian Jones). Having explored these digital innovations, we are now keen to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of best practice educational delivery for students, shaped by the challenges of an institutional rebound following the pandemic.
Responding to this notion, this paper will reflect on current literature examining the loss of tactile and haptic making skills and this perceived imagination deficit in design students and speculate on these ideas in the context of modes of educational delivery in art and design schools now. This is with a view to framing a study and potential interrogation of the ongoing value of digital resources within a broader pedagogical framework for art and design schools.
Goddard, S. and Vickers, C. (2021). Resilience Building in Graduating Students: The Role of Scalable Communities of Practice. Retrieved 31/7/2023 from https://acuads.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GoddardVickers_ACUADS_copyedit.pdf
Ingold, T. (2010). The Textility of Making. Cambridge Journal of Economics 34, 1, pp.91–102. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bep042