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Charlie Tait

Charlie Tait

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design, MA Design Course Leader

MIMA School of Art & Design

I've enjoyed devising sessions directly for the Teams format, for example within MA Design we've been able to use the web cam format to role-play personas that help imagine future scenarios as part of a speculative design project.

How have you adapted to online teaching?

I've continued to expand a number of approaches I explored in our design studios using Teams and OneNote as digital sketchbooks and collaborative online studio spaces.

I have experience directing creative projects with internationally dispersed teams and I was able to adapt my learning from these into my teaching. In addition, I'm running studio workshops and critique sessions using physical and online methods synchronously, this has meant not just understanding the technologies and behaviours, but also structuring sessions in ways that allow on-campus and online students to participate together.

Tell me a little bit about your use of One Note / Teams and the positive impact this has had?

Working with the class notebook allows students to record their process in a flexible way – physical work can be photographed directly into the space and positioned next to primary observation, scans from texts and secondary web research. Annotation and thinking can then be added into the same space - there's even options for recording voice snippets, which can help explain thinking.

I've also used the collaboration space for group work involving rapid ideation and research sprints. Students can work together on a page and I can drop-in to see how it's going and add feedback or expansion materials.

My teaching uses a lot of active and flipped learning methods so it's been really beneficial to try to maintain these approaches through the lock down. I've had a lot of positive feedback from students who have appreciated being actively brought into the taught sessions I deliver.

How have your students reacted to online learning and how have you supported them?

I find you can't help but blend the boundaries of your professional and personal personas in the hybrid model. Delivering a lecture or seminar from my home studio for example, I think students have reacted to me on a different level.

Some students also seem more comfortable expressing themselves through chat and emoji which has helped bring those students into studio activities. For example, students who perhaps would be quiet in a physical room are joining in with the discussion and making valuable contributions.

In terms of support – it's about realising we're all going through a lot of change at the minute – I try to be clear and work with students individually to respond to their circumstances. I acknowledge the challenge with them and, let's not forget, the students will help each other and at times they support me.

Has the additional use of digital technology benefited your teaching and to what extent?

I think there has been a greater focus on shorter and more individual activity. Prior to the hybrid model, I facilitated hands-on formative studio day workshops, these were often collaborative, or group based. However, the timetabling and studio restrictions have meant that this has not been possible. There have been some positive workarounds facilitated by digital technology, for example I was able to deliver a motion environments workshop. This involved projecting motion graphics work onto a variety of surfaces, and I asked the students to use their devices to live stream multiple video feeds into the Teams session. This meant online students could participate by uploading files and they were able to view a range of perspectives of the studio room.

I've also enjoyed devising sessions directly for the Teams format, for example within MA Design we've been able to use the web cam format to role-play personas that help imagine future scenarios as part of a speculative design project.

How would you summarise your transition to online teaching and learning?

It's required a lot of hard work and when facilitated this has been useful – there are definitely approaches developed through hybrid that I would look to expand on, though I am definitely looking forward to getting into the studio without restrictions to facilitate more collaborative workshops.

What has pleased you most about how your students have responded to the changes?

How they have adapted and supported each other.