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[- New Media Arts Education
By TreborScholz, Section whatever...
Posted on Fri Oct 31st, 2003 at 04:48:18 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
I'm curious to see if a few Discordians are interested in starting an exchange about new media arts education. I posted a longer text on conflicts in new media arts education on E. A. Doobs.

read it here
[editor's note, by TreborScholz] We moved this past post back to this page because more comments were added


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New Media Arts Education | 8 comments
[new] ...Q's (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#4)
by joncates ( on Wed Oct 22nd, 2003 at 03:11:52 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

++ ryangriffis:
why is it that you didnt name Southwest Missouri State University as the "small state university" or the name of the "new media program (strategically named after the electronic arts game company)" that you are teaching in?

++ trebor scholz:
this brings me (back) to the unanswered Q i posted to nettime in the thread resulting from yr initial post. my Q [was/is] why not name

//begin self quoting system
the institutions in the us + eu that you have experience w/ [+/or] are referring to?
//end self quoting system

i am really curious as to the conditions that you [have/are] experienc[ed/ing], specically those issues of curriculum dev that i raised on nettime:

//begin self quoting system
i.e., were you given preset syllabi [+/or] did you create curriculum? which existing [methods/materials] did you utilize? were you AT sum pt given [a/an] [directive/assignment] by [an/a] [administrator/department head] to place "exclusive emphasis on software programs"?
//end self quoting system

what i find puzzling is this [issue of/approach to] naming in the initial post + this comment. the nettime thread has gone in various directions, but i am hoping that we can discuss the specifics of new media [educational/academic] [contexts/content] here.
* <jonCates>
* <>
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[new] .edu follow up (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#7)
by TreborScholz on Fri Oct 31st, 2003 at 01:36:51 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

///..After travelling, and by now hopelessly behind the thread... //

The threads on new media education were inspiring: from problematizing the terms intellectual and new media to dreams of an ideal educational setting, the difference between education and professional development and the divided knowledge economy...From Keith Hardt quoting Noel Annan who aims to &"produce out of the chaos of human experience some grain of order won by the intellect" to Dan Wang's statement on the dramatic rise of tuition costs and the American university experience being reformulated as a largely predictable exercise in job and career preparation as opposed to education. Reading the posts and related mails that I received there was a division between those writing about teaching and those with the human experience of the complex relational dynamics of the classroom. The reality of an educational practice to me is something that is best addressed with quite pragmatic proposals.

Throughout many posts there was the demand for less structure or even chaos within educational settings instead of the placid order too often experienced. There is "too much structure, too much predictable social behavior," "too much institutionalization of knowledge, too much efficiency,
too much accountability." From my experience the most unpredictable and interesting learning situations are based on pragmatic yet experimental approaches of skill and knowledge exchange.
Brian Thomas Carroll dreams of education as a "networked experience, commerce-free, interdisciplinary, collaborative." I found an example for this type of technology-enabled educational networking in an essay by Sher Doruff in "Making Art of Databases" She describes the class "Collaborative Cultures" at DEAF03 of March 2003 (technologically enabled by KeyWorx of Waag Society). Doruff describes the class as "an attempt to provoke both critical and playful investigation into tools and techniques that incorporate social networks, live mediation, synchronous co-creation, real-time access to and transformation of databases and living archives." For 2 days a broadband audio/video stream was set up between a Rotterdam-based class and the A'na*tomic group based at Waag Society in Amsterdam. &quot;a file-transfer protocol in KeyWorx enables the sharing of media between players who share a space with a common patcher interface and output.&quot; Participants communicated with each other via text, video, sound, image, movies, webcams, and a web image crawler. "Eight layers of visual imagery were synchronously modulated and processed by the players." Thinking about cooperation Doruff draws from the experience of multi-user games in which rules of cooperation such as trust determine success.
Having set up distributed learning environments similar to DEAF03 I found that they have lots of potential for "inter-authorial expression" and positive networking but I don't think that these settings should or will replace face to face learning.

In his post Francis Wang writes that what matters is "to be surrounded by others who will reinforce&quot; his &quot;sneaking suspicion that knowledge matters"
and that this may as well take place on a WIKI, list or weblog as it could be located in a classroom. I agree with Francis that these forums are places for meaningful communication, especially in a context in which "doing rather than thinking has become the norm and is what is most valued" as Michael H. Goldhaber points out.

Another problem in new media education, as pointed out by Brian Thomas Carroll is the tendency to forcefully create a false canon that bulldozes questions and debate, creating false fiction (ie. history of web-based art). It takes constant questioning and shifting of discourses, texts to read, works to study and I look forward to a large number of courses that put this spirit into action.

Many posts rightly claimed a disconnect between the university and the rest of culture. In the best-case scenario the university can be a media-rich platform in which links are made with groups, links to ideas, links to tools, links to information, links to questions, to doubts, and to the outside. This is quite different from the top-down deposition of facts into passive students. Students are educated to a certain literacy that, according to Douglas Kellner, will equip people to participate in the local, national and global economy, culture and polity.
The classroom becomes a network, or a meeting place for outside university networks. In smaller departments these things are easier to accomplish because structures can be more fluid. Jon Cates in his post also demands flexibility and fluidity.
(And in response to Jon: I designed my own courses and in my original text I did name some universities at which I taught in Europe and the US.)

Self-educated Francis Hwang asks: What do academics do? and Do we really need more ideas? So what do these creatures do in the university?
Brian Thomas Carroll aka Human Being refers to David Brooks saying that the "intellectuals" who are heard are those resonating with the people
and where they are, with their perception of reality shaped by reality TV" That would be a rather sad picture and luckily there are many public
intellectuals who do stand for something other than populism. In Eastern Europe before the imnplosion of the Eastern republics public intellectuals
played a crucial role in society, people looked to them for guidance. In the current economical context of the US the professor often does
not have the responsibility to educate but instead becomes a job trainer. Critical thinking, independent thinking is not seen as valid activity. Douglas Kellner calls for a critical theory of technology that avoids both technophobia and technophilia.

In the US graduate students in most programs face a more school-like framework than that in Britain or Germany. Graduate students in art related
departments there are having exhibitions all through their studies while Americans still learn. This difference frequently irritates American educators who teach as guests in European (ie. German) institutions.

I don't agree with David Patterson's statement that some people just don't belong into college but I would argue for a more
directed decision process for students who should question themselves if an university education is really what they want as opposed to an industry training, trade school.

The notion of the intellectuals (falsely solely equated with the left wing, the radical, the anti status-quo) as thinkers who want to change society using ideas came up several times. Ryan Griffis emphasized that the definition matters less than one's everyday politics. And Dan Wang claimed that the university is not the home for "intellectuals" anymore. Daniel Perlin pushed for the intellectual in the university as an amateur in the sense of one who loves their work and takes risks. Risk taking could mean acknowledging failure, self-criticism, de-specializing and having an interdisciplinary focus that inspires students and as "Null" pointed out: the teacher should be like an older student who has spent more time on a project.

--So far a few notes, which definitely can't live up to all the questions on the table...

_/ _/ _/

[new] Broader context (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by amy on Mon Oct 6th, 2003 at 08:35:47 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Wow, Trebor. There are a lot of points to discuss in this post, but to just address one: the vocational approach sometimes seen in US students.

I think it would be useful to consider the broader context of arts and education in US vs. European and/or other cultures.

Artswise: as you mentioned, there's little hope of a US student surviving after graduation on government arts grants. Per capita spending on the arts in the US is, as far as I understand, many times less than in Western Europe. This also points to a cultural difference as well; art is considered a frivolous luxury in the US. I realize this is also the case elsewhere, it seems to be more extreme in the US, due to its culture of extreme economic pragmatism. Aspiring to be a non-commercial artist will get you laughed right outta here, Mr. or Ms. FancyPants. (Also see below on class considerations.)

Educationally: in the US, college is typically paid for by students, parents, and student loans, and students feel a great deal of pressure (from parents, peers and themselves) to make sure they can get a job which will eventually recoup their financial "investment" - or at least not leave them hopelessly mired in debt which they cannot dig their way out of.
Beyond that, there's the continually-increasing economic stratification in the US. It's not necessarily that college students aim to get rich - but they feel that they need to get a decent paying job in order to avoid living in unsafe conditions. Unemployment payments and food stamps don't go very far; neither do paychecks from WalMart.

So it can actually be an elitist position to dismiss students' vocational concerns. To working-class people, "don't worry about getting a job" sounds like the mantra of someone who doesn't need one.

On the other hand, what I find often somehow doesn't get communicated well enough: that critical thinking skills are the skills that serve you in the long run - vocationally *and* intellectually. (As Geert has pointed out, and most of my college professors did as well, fortunately.) And that once you work full-time for awhile, you'll realize how amazingly unfulfilling jobs are, and that you'll want an engagement with culture outside of your employment. (Many students sadly seem to figure this out about a year or two after graduation.)
And in general, that intellectual development and survival skills in the U.S. Economic Rat Race are not, in fact, mutually exclusive...

I'm not sure how to communicate this better other than for those of us who teach to keep discussing these issues with our students... it does seem to sink in sometimes. It did with me; then again, I'd been in the Rat Race before going to college, which definitely shifted my perspective. Maybe US students would benefit from a work/service tradition before college, i.e. a Gap Year?

# begin amy's sig
-- Discordia is nice.
# end amy's sig

  • DeVry and beyond by paullloydsargent, 11/10/2003 08:10:41 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (3.00 / 1)
  • New Media ed by TreborScholz, 10/07/2003 01:59:48 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
    • new media ed by ryangriffis, 10/15/2003 06:25:53 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
New Media Arts Education | 8 comments

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