Newsletter - April 2006Welcome to the first edition of the ascilite newsletter for 2006. The lead article in this edition has been produced by Rick Bennett of the University of New South Wales. It reports on the Omnium Project which took out the prestigious ascilite President's Award in 2005. Rick, along with Vince Dziekan from Monash University, were regarded as worthy winners by ascilite conference participants in Brisbane last December, their online collaborative software package for visual arts and design winning many plaudits.
After reviewing last year's award, 'What's interesting on the ascilite website' then focuses on the application process for 2006.
Then, in the 'What's interesting elsewhere' section we look at our 'sister' conference in the northern hemisphere, ALT-C. The ascilite newsletter is produced three times a year and we welcome suggestions for themes from our readers. Please send these to any of the editors. Please also consider submitting a short piece yourself if you think it might be of interest to ascilite members.
The ascilite newsletter is produced three times a year and we welcome suggestions for themes from our readers. Please send these to any of the editors. Please also consider submitting a short piece yourself if you think it might be of interest to ascilite members.
Editor for this edition: Jeremy Williams
Editorial team: Kar-Tin Lee, Joe Luca, Meg O'Reilly, Jeremy Williams.
Web Editor: NetSpot
The 2005 ascilite President's Award Winner
What's interesting on the ascilite website?
What's interesting elsewhere?
The 2005 ascilite President's Award WinnerThe Omnium Project:
Presenting an Online && Collaborative Framework for Tertiary Education in the Visual Arts and Design
Forming Online Educational && Creative Communities
Creative practice has arguably undergone notable transformation over the last decade; from a predominantly singular and private activity, to one that encourages notions of the collective and shared collaborative working processes. However, such practice remains difficult to achieve when collaboration is required to take place between geographically distanced partners and working teams. The traditional creative process, seen as an individual's reflective dialogue with their own work, no longer seems solely applicable in contemporary visual arts education and practice.
Founded in 1998 as an ongoing research initiative, The Omnium Project continues to help resolve specific difficulties faced by visual artists and designers wishing to work collaboratively, but whose locations and cultural backgrounds are both distanced and diverse. The potential for successful collaboration of such nature is highly applicable to both educational and professional contexts and extremely relevant to revised needs within both settings. Omnium is based within the College of Fine Arts (COFA) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
The Omnium Project's research to date has aimed to identify an effective two-part online framework that includes;
- an online collaborative && creative (OCC) working process for students, educators and professional practitioners alike;
- specifically designed web-based software interfaces - OmniumTM - that allow such interaction to take place efficiently and effectively.
By producing, facilitating, and evaluating its online framework, through a significant series of large-scale local and global online creative projects over a six-year period, The Omnium Project has since linked more than 4000 students, educators, professionals, theorists and writers from over 40 countries in online collaborative and creative interaction.
As a result, in 2004 The Omnium Project was awarded funding through an ARC (Australian Research Council) Discovery Grant and later approached by ICOGRADA (International Council of Graphic Design Associations), the world's governing body of national graphic design councils, to develop and host the first ever online creative project for members of the Icograda Education Network (IEN). The resulting Creative Waves venture established the largest online community of students, educators, visual artists and designers to take part in a project on such a global scale. Conducted over a seven-week period in 2005, the project enrolled 121 participants (including students and teachers from 35 tertiary art and design colleges, creative professionals, writers, theorists and renowned VIP special guests) from 22 countries worldwide. Creative Waves was the first in a series of free creative projects for students wishing to explore online and collaborative visual communication studies and already has subsequent projects planned for 2007.
Omnium's ascilite Award application focused on how their Omnium StudioTM software was used to facilitate the global Creative Waves project. It illustrated Omnium's innovation and leadership in the area of using computers and information/communication technology for learning and teaching in tertiary education.
Creative Waves: International Online Creative Collaboration (OCC)
Having experience of facilitating online collaborative && creative projects since 1999, Omnium founder - Rick Bennett was well aware of other such initiatives taking place worldwide. He was also particularly interested in progressing previous Omnium projects, from a predominantly graphic design base, to a more multi-disciplinary approach to the visual arts. Bennett had admired similar online work in the area of photo-media led by Vince Dziekan at Monash University's Faculty of Art && Design, and invited him to co-write and co-produce the first Creative Waves project.
Creative Waves took place over a 7-week period during March and April, 2005, and linked art and design students and their teachers from member institutions of the Icograda Education Network (IEN) around the world. Using the Omnium StudioTM interface, participants interacted in small design teams (where no team member is in the same geographic location) to challenge and respond to an unfolding and conceptual design brief.
The project explored the potential of online and collaborative visual communication through graphic design and photomedia studies. Participants formed strong creative and social bonds with partners in distant parts of the world, receiving regular feedback and support from established creative professionals, using the Internet as their sole communication tool. To create the first online 'wave', the project brief opened with the following questions:
Q. What does it sound like when hundreds of photographs are taken at the exact same moment all around the globe?
Q. Would the 'virtual' sound of synchronised shutters going off at the exact same instant begin a swelling, rolling, accumulating creative wave wrapping around the planet?
The project challenged the paradigm of individual creative processes (their championing of exclusiveness, isolation and ownership), by involving a diverse and multi-cultural group of art && design students in collective, collaborative and creative activities - taking place solely within an online studio. The brief was structured to explore the prospect of working collaboratively in new ways and the prospects that these open up for communicating visually.
Participants began by individually gathering photographic imagery from their own geographic settings, from their own cultural perspective, before working through the brief with colleagues (in small creative teams) who existed in distant parts of the world. As the project progressed, the creative teams were visited by established, and often extremely well known, creative professionals, writers and theorists who led 'live' group chat sessions, provided their own works to form helpful Expose Galleries of visual works, or provided feedback at various stages to the works presented in progress.
The entire progress and conclusions to the project, as well as the software interface used, is archived and can be visited at the Creative Waves website. The project has attracted global attention by both the design fraternity and those interested in e-learning. The project was also monitored as an external research study by eminent e-learning expert, Professor Gilly Salmon and her Beyond Distance Research Alliance team at the University of Leicester (UK). Professor Salmon and Bennett have since joined forces on a number of new ventures, as well as presenting conference papers and workshops about the Creative Waves experience.
As a progression of such projects like Creative Waves, and the incredible social networks and friendships they have formed, Omnium is about to launch its new and global Omnium Creative Network (OCN), where hundreds of like-minded individuals from around the globe can meet and exist to discuss and respond to a series of socially aware and ethically driven creative projects.
It will remain exciting to see where Omnium moves next, and to see how their online framework for collaboration and creativity, as well as their unique software interfaces, can be applied to the global movement in improving e-learning opportunities and standards.
- Rick Bennett is senior lecturer in Design at the College of Fine Arts (COFA) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Vince Dziekan is senior lecturer in Digital Imaging at the Faculty of Art && Design at Monash University, Melbourne (email@example.com)
(For information about licensing the various Omnium software options: view the Omnium Project website: www.omnium.edu.au)
What's interesting on the ascilite website?ascilite Awards processs
Well it's that time again! The 23rd annual ascilite Awards process has clicked into gear for another year. As was the case last year, we are expecting a large number of high quality entries. An official notification will appear shortly on the ascilite general email list but in the meantime, you can visit the ascilite site, follow the links to the Awards and download both a general information document setting out dates and requirements, together with the official entry form.
There have been some changes to the process for the 2006 awards. Firstly, the committee has re-worked some of the judging criteria and we believe that, as a result, it should be a less onerous job for the international judging panel in working through those short listed.
In addition, at the request of a number of potential entrants we have introduced a 2 tier classification for judging purposes, 'Small Projects' and 'Large Projects'. We expect this to translate into a larger number of ascilites being awarded. The President's Award for Excellence, however, will still be judged across all entries.
A consequence of these changes will be a greater emphasis on you providing supporting documentation with entries, so please do not leave it until the last minute to prepare your entries!
Good luck and we hope to be working through a big pile of entries (including yours) come the closing date, 1st September 2006.
Dr Bob Corderoy, Chair: ascilite Awards Committee
What's interesting elsewhere?Early bird registration for ALT-C is drawing closer
ALT-C 2006, the 13th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology, which will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, between 5 and 7 September 2006.
The closing date for registration is Friday, 11 August 2006. Early bird registration closes on Friday 30 July. Secure on-line registration by Credit/Debit card or by official purchase order will be available from Monday 8 May.
Note that there is a reciprocal arrangement between ascilite and ALT which means ascilite members pay ALT member rates at ALT-C and vice versa. This represents quite a significant saving (especially with the current exchange rates between Antipodean dollars and the pound sterling!)
The conference theme this year is 'the next generation'. Among the key notes speakers are Gilly Salmon, Diana Oblinger and Terry Anderson.
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