Review of collaboration

The design of the activity ‘key drivers in Personal development planning‘ gave a clear framework for us to work within in terms of a template, time scale, group and selected readings but with the flexibility for us to approach it in our own way. This is something I have been giving a lot of thought to with my own students; providing a sturdy structure for them to use, a scaffolding  in the form of templates, template guides and organising blogs for their research but also giving them choice over the methods they use. Part of their learning and my teaching will involve introducing them to the choices available – their toolbox of research methods.

We had a choice over how we would communicate and organise a strategy for collecting and sharing the information. For various reasons our group was a little quiet initially but responses to the readings appeared on the forum as reactions to the readings. One student suggested a Wiki as a structure for us to build on which although there was not an immediate agreement on this I thought there was not any disagreement so added a page on the group wiki for our template. This is not something I have done before so followed the breadcrumb trail the other group had left and put the template on the wiki. At that point I had looked at a couple of sources so added the key points to the template.

This gave our group a focus in terms of where we would co-construct our resource. It was after this that some questioning of what we were actually doing started – How were we defining our terms? Rather than becoming an obstacle it enabled us to reflect on the readings in more depth by considering overarching themes that were emerging. This happened in the structure of the forum posts and so took on a more conversational means compared to the ‘directory’ like wiki. On reflection perhaps this emerged as our preferred way to construct information and as was suggested by others, a synchronous online conferencing session may have been a more efficient method. Having said that the wiki does exist as a constructed document that we can continue to review and construct.

The H808 framework gives us an additional scaffolding for our learning and helps to give ‘value’ to all aspects of our experience. I have been  thinking  about my own blogging as well as the ‘push’ , ‘pull’ and ‘pause’ of the research process and the role reflection has in that process. The blog entries give us the opportunity to consider, take stock, realign and define what needs to improve and where to go next…


Introducing research methods

Today I introduced students to different research methodologies for their creative research project module on their BA (hons) Design course.  We did this using templates I had constructed for them, templates that will enable them to select and use appropriate methodologies for their research as well as analyse the methods themselves. The templates will hopefully give them the structure they need to gain confidence in exploring new territories.

The students have been asked to set up a specific blog for their Research project and the blog will be their evidence for the research journey they go on. They added their blog addresses to a group Wiki on the course VLE Moodle while I was talking about the benefits of co-constructing information. This particular wiki became a convenient link directory but hopefully planted a seed in terms of how they might use this as a method to collaboratively research. The next task – their answers to ‘Why research?’ on post-it notes that they stuck on the whiteboard became an interesting visualisation of a real life wiki. Pointing this out to them hopefully reinforced what a wiki could be.

We discussed how the blog would have posts that showed evidence of the research process  propelling them forward (and in other directions too) as well as having posts that were reflective, pauses, taking stock. This made some uneasy; that the documentation might pull in different directions, so to speak, but I reassured them that this was all part of the research process. Their blogs will be repositories for their research, evidence that they have experienced a process, one that I can give formative feedback on through re-blogging, adding comments and ‘hearting’. My blog for this project is here-

My description of today is here because my experiences made me think about my own blogging as well as the ‘push’ , ‘pull’ and ‘pause’ of the research process and the role reflection has in that process.

Learning and Teaching Conference University Centre Blackburn College 2012

The theme of the conference is sharing and engaging others in good practice to enhance learning, teaching and assessment. This is particularly relevant in a rapidly changing external context where maintaining and continuing to enhance high quality will be crucial.

Key note speaker Paul Trowler: Engaging Students: Concepts, Practices and Resources

I will be doing a session at the conference with a colleague Deb Millar on Technology and community enhanced practice: Tweet, Pin and Scoop – Creative approaches to engaging in and sharing research.

I have spent the last 12 months exploring social media tools like Twitter, Pinterest and Scoop-It as methods for engaging students in collaborative practice and research. My current research is examining pinterest comments boxes as forum structures, where students can record their observations, exchange ideas and share good practice. These tools allow for curation and aggregation of content allowing students to develop skills in research and community practice.

Pinterest as an academic research tool

The following has been set up as a Cloud on the Cloudworks Site ‘a place to share, find and discuss learning and teaching ideas and experiences’. Clouds become forums for debate, idea exchange and resources. My cloud ‘Pinterest as an academic research tool’ can be found here:
My interest in Pinterest is outlined here:
  • How can ‘content curation’ platform Pinterest be used for both synchronous and asynchronous activities?
  • How can Pinterest be used to introduce good practice for academic research and referencing?
  • How can Pinterest  be used as a selective research method that encourage curation not aggregation of information.
  • How can Pinterest be used to encourage collaborative working practices as well as interactive discussion?

Context for discussion

Pinterest does not currently promote itself as a potential academic tool but I have started using it with my students studying on a Foundation Degree in Textiles/Fashion. The first stages of theme research involve looking for examples by other designers. Pinterest allows them to ‘curate’ their imagery, adding a link to the source where they found the imagery and add their own annotation about the work. Because I am able to follow and add my comments I can prompt responses and start a discussion. I have used it asynchronously but I am interested in organsing as session where students respond to each other comments in a timed session. I am interested in whether this stimulates more discussion/annotation than traditional image print outs and written notes.

One of my early observations of how using Pinterest might improve a student’s attainment and the quality of their research is from the interaction or intervention I am able to make throughout their research process. Because I am able to access a students ongoing research I can prompt them with my comments that remain visible in the process. The student can then refine their commentary/annotation and also become more selective in what they look at.

Before I used Pinterest with students they would hand in their research findings at the end (with some input through tutorials) my feedback would then be used to help them on the next stage of the research process or project but did not have the immediate impact that a live and recorded exchange has.

Copyright Issues

Pinterest is not without its issues, there has been a lot written about copyright infringement because ”Pinning” often involves using copyrighted imagery that is easily available on the web. With my own pinning I use an image from its original source and reference ( credit ) the artist in every description and if it states that an image is not to be used I would not ‘copy’ or pin it – this is how students can learn about academic referencing and not just appropriate imagery without considering who it belongs to. This might be fine in principle but the reality is a can of worms. At the moment I am examining the way something like Pinterest works and it may be better to find a less contentious way of students visualising and sharing their research.

Is Pinterest the Next Napster?

UCBC Learning and Teaching Conference 2012

@sk – Academics Sharing Knowledge

The theme of the conference is sharing and engaging others in good practice to enhance learning, teaching and assessment. This is particularly relevant in a rapidly changing external context where maintaining and continuing to enhance high quality will be crucial.

Technology enhanced practice: Tweet, Pin and Scoop – Creative approaches to engaging in and documenting research

This presentation and paper will examine how online social networking micro blogging tools (Twitter) as well as ‘content curation’ platforms (Pinterest and Scoop-it) can be used for both synchronous and asynchronous activities with a focus on how these tools help to facilitate blended approaches to teaching and learning. These tools can be used to introduce good practice for academic research and referencing and can be used as selective research methods that encourage curation not aggregation of information. Curation online, requires skill ‘mastery, passion, knowledge and expertise. Without such additional layers, a curated collection of links is just a collection of links’ (Foremski 2011). How these tools can be used to encourage collaborative working practices as well as interactive discussion will also be illustrated. By their nature these tools can also be used to widen participation and be used for asynchronous activity. In addition to being used as academic research tools their uses for Social media profile development and networking opportunities will also be referred to.

Foremski, T 2011, Curation Is Not Cheap Content… weblog, accessed 14th March 2012< >

Initial samples

The initial samples explored cutting through the pre-felt at various stages of felting to find a balance between being felted enough to give crisp edges but not too much so as to lose some softness and the technical ability for it to felt together as a fabric. The laser cutter has 3 variations to consider; the speed of the laser, the power of the laser and the frequency of the laser in relation to the speed. To reduce the flame and smoke the power needs to be reduced which restricts the depth of the cut. Each piece needed five to six passes at four to five minutes a go, to cut through each piece of felt. This made it a lot quicker and more accurate than by doing it by hand but was not as quick as I would have liked in terms of potential mass production or churning out samples.


Designing the cut

The ice cream motif was developed using the vector drawing software Adobe Illustrator. This particular software is best for drawing from scratch and files can be saved in the appropriate format (EPS) for the laser cutter. The software is designed to take a motif and repeat it easily as a pattern. The stills (fig 4-6) show the design in full and also the separation of the components of the motif. Having the motif separated gave some flexibility and would enable the components of the design to be lasered separately if that was required.

Icecream Motif

The creative journey – starting point and creative ideas

The themes in my work are often based around childhood and/or found objects that interest me. I often start the creative process with photographs, objects and sketches. I see this stage as ‘ideas research’ and it often involves revisiting existing work or developing unresolved pieces. For this research I started with a photograph of myself as a child (fig 1) – the main focus and interest in this image was the ice cream. I often find it interesting to make relationships between objects and imagery and after finding an ornament of a boy with an ice cream (fig 2) this became the theme for the work.

Fig 1
fig 2

Exploring creative applications of the laser cutting equipment for textiles

The research examined the use of the laser cutter as part of a creative process in relation to my own professional practice.

My own professional practice has always explored the blurring of boundaries between disciplines, with materials and processes being tools and ways to articulate ideas. Combining traditional methods and techniques with new technologies adds another layer of context to my work as well as offering different sensibilities and aesthetics.

sample of laser cutting felt