13 thoughts on “Visual artefact

  1. What a wonderful contrast of past and present Helen. A really thought provoking artefact and very visually stimulating.

    It made me consider how educational institutions view students as data because so much of their funding is dependent on results. This aspect of education dehumanizes students which in a way (if I stretch Haraway’s metaphor even further) transforms them into cyborgs where their past, gender, race, or class are inconsequential.

    What was also interesting, and since I don’t know what period the older images are from, is how little has changed in the way we perceive the physical space of classrooms, even in the digital age. I only comment on it as I used the same kind of space in my artefact.

    1. ChenĂ©e: as I mentioned to Nigel (http://bit.ly/2k89Y0t) I was hoping that the images would prove to be similar rather than contrasting; that’s also the reason why I ’embedded’ the modern within the old – to try and suggest that the design of our educational spaces has not really shifted or developed in line with our use of technologies. I was really interested to see that you had used an old (Victorian?) classroom in your artefact too. I find it befuddling really: I’ve been involved in a number of school new build programmes and the default design is always comprised of little teaching boxes…

      Data is all-pervasive in secondary education in a way which it wasn’t when I first started teaching nearly twenty years ago. I fear – like you suggest – that data is reductive and fails to reflect all that is important about the individual learner. As you’ll have seen at BETT, there are so many ‘data dashboards’ on the market now, but very few of them go beyond allowing for the logging of quantitative data or – importantly – giving the student themselves a voice. As Hattie highlights (Hattie & Timperley, 2007) , student feedback on their on own learning is one of the key factors in improving attainment: it’s a key AfL principle and yet is ignored within the dashboard marketplace.

  2. I really enjoyed the journey through technology. It’s too easy to forget that new educational technologies weren’t always digital, yet sparked the same debate about how they would ruin/change education and or the human mind đŸ™‚


    1. What an interesting observation Eli. I was really interested in Miller’s observations about ‘homo faber’: ‘the maker and user of objects, his self to a large extent a reflection of things withe which he interacts.’ (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981:1). I guess one of the key things for me is how little the interaction of human and tool/tech has been reflected in the design of pedagogical spaces or practice. Bayne highlighted this, noting how technology is often perceived as simply an enhancement of current practice. Key questions aren’t asked about how the ‘entanglement’ of learner and technology, of teacher and technology, perhaps requires a radical rethink of how and where we teach and learn.

      1. I agree with the rethink Helen, there is too much weight given to learning spaces being a recognised, I hate to say official, place. One of the examples I use is that I often think about things away from the learning environment as it seems to help me process. A perfect example I used for a previous course is available on my media hopper channel, I set up a camera and chatted to myself about “learnification”. Biesta, G.J.J., 2012. Giving Teaching Back to Education: Phenomenology & Practice, 6(2), pp.35–49.


        Is my kitchen less of a learning space? It’s my main thinking space, my place where I concrete my thoughts…


  3. I was really impressed by your work, Helen. Although I didn’t really realise it until I tried to produce an artefact, I think I struggled to understand what the assignment even meant, in terms of ‘getting’ what the real aim was (i.e. not your work, but producing work visually, since I’m not yet confident with either my own visual representation skills or the array of tools available to help). Your visual artefact makes it very plain: you do an excellent job of making complex ideas simple through your visual representations. This was especially poignant with the comparison of old and ‘new’ classrooms, which I felt was done with a great deal of finesse.
    Like ChenĂ©e, I also appreciated the notion of the datafication of children (through education) producing cyborg-like (machine-like) vessels. In my mind it doesn’t just dehumanize students – I think it works to dis-establish genuine relationships between students and teachers (I’m thinking primary school, but maybe it can be extended to other educational levels).
    Thank you for such a well-constructed and insightful presentation.

  4. Renee – what lovely feedback: thank you. Like you, I struggled with it though: I couldn’t quite find the right medium to be able to express what I wanted to. And I think your artefact is brilliantly executed!

    I couldn’t agree more with your observation about how datafication can impact on relationships. Do you have experience of this yourself?

  5. Hello Helen, I’m intrigued as to your inclusion of the transcript from the Prezi. At first glance, I thought the transcription was in itself intended to be a visual artefact. It reminded me of an exhibition some years ago in Edinburgh where artists used the layout, shape and positioning of words to convey meaning beyond language:


    In the example of your own work, the layout and mixture of upper and lower case text looks like computer code cascading down the screen. There’s almost a rhythm to it. Cyborg poetry?

    Or perhaps reproducing the text was just good practice in terms of accessibility?

    1. Hi James. I’m a bit confused as I’m not seeing a transcript…can you send a screen grab please so that I can see what you’re seeing? And thank you for the link to the exhibition: it looks superb. As a former English teacher, I love poetry which plays with its own visual form. There are some really interesting examples here.

      1. Thank you for sending the image. It appears that it’s computer-generated ‘art’ as I didn’t include it. Prezi must auto-create it. What an interesting digital artefact!

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