Teaching Matters

A new ‘creative commons’ in art and design learning and teaching

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


A new ‘creative commons’ in art and design learning and teaching: introducing Critical Practices via cross-state blended learning


Toby Juliff, School of Creative Arts
Maria Kunda, School of Creative Arts
Wendy Fountain, School of Creative Arts


Making a Difference for Students

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 213




Emerging from the renewal and 2017 re-launch of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons), the new suite of Critical Practices units kicked off in Semester 1, radically re-configuring teaching approaches, staff roles, and delivery modes. At the core of this shift are new expectations and values for student learning outcomes within a co-created and technologically mediated culture of creating arts learning: one expression of the ‘art school 2.0’ that Baker (2009) envisioned for the sector. Through students’ better scaffolded and supported academic progression, we anticipate greater numbers of students will complete four years of higher education, in line with the University’s new Degrees of Difference curriculum framework (University of Tasmania, 2016).

The introduction of Critical Practices has sought to make previously atomised and disconnected learning experiences integrated and engaging for students, and to enable teaching staff to critically share an array of previously compartmentalised studio and research practices. To illustrate, Critical Practices 1B (a 25% unit taught in Hobart and Inveresk) is described to students as introducing:

“…[M]ethods used to describe, analyse and evaluate art and reflect on the discussions and debates that surround it in historical and contemporary terms. You will engage in reading, writing and making tasks which connect the field of creative production with major art historical methods and theories, important topical issues and broader cultural thematics. The purpose of the unit is to link these areas to contemporary creative practice and to understand and reflect on them through the processes of making and discussing art”
(University of Tasmania, 2017).

In practice, this is necessitating a fluid and devolved approach with a greater number of teaching staff leading and developing smaller blended learning modules – expressed via three thematics per semester – that are organised and curated through unprecedented levels of teaching staff co-ordination, collaboration, and informal peer review; all mediated by online platforms including MyLO sandpits and Trello group spaces.

This showcase presentation focuses on the gap between our aspiration to achieve a ‘creative commons’ ethos in line with open educational practices (OEP) (e.g. Smyth, Bossu and Stagg, 2015), and the practical challenges arising from this ambitious approach. In response, we explored the capacity of the Learning Object Repository (LOR) [see https://elibrary.utas.edu.au/lor/home.do ] in Semester 2 to collate, index, share, and review the proliferating learning and teaching objects being used, or developed, within Critical Practices. While well-suited to facilitating peer review for co-teaching, the current iteration of the LOR posed particular challenges to a discipline which employs extensive use of third-party material (contemporary visual art, culture, and music).

We demonstrate our development of LOR support materials, exemplars, and standards for best practice that further OEP principles, distributed co-teaching teaching models, and compliance with relevant Australian copyright law, that – we hope – support and enable learners and teaching staff without compromising the quality and contemporaneity of the learning experience.


Baker, S. (2009). ‘Art school 2.0: Art schools in the information age or reciprocal relations and the art of the possible’. In B. Buckley & J. Conomos (Eds.), Re-thinking the Creative art school: The artist, the PhD and the academy, 3-27. Halifax: NSCAD Press.

Smyth, R., Bossu, C. & Stagg, A. (2015). Toward an Open Empowered Learning Model of pedagogy in higher education. In M. Keppell, S. Reushle & A. Antonio (Eds.), Open Learning and Formal Credentialing in Higher Education: Curriculum Models and Institutional Policies. Hershey: IGI Global.

University of Tasmania. (2017). Critical Practices 1B. Retrieved 20 September 2017 from: http://www.utas.edu.au/courses/cale/units/fsa122-critical-practices-1b

University of Tasmania. (2016). Degrees of Difference: Design Elements for Bachelor Degrees. Retrieved from: https://secure.utas.edu.au/curriculum-renewal-secure/documents/degrees-of-difference-design-elements-for-bachelor-degrees.pdf

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