DRAFT: Leonardo Education Forum Strategy summary on media art education

Proposed by participants of the International Leonardo Education Forum and
Expert meetings at re:place 2007, Berlin, Mutamorphosis, Prague, ISEA2008, Singapore and ARS Electronica2008, Linz

Editors: Michael Century, Ernest Edmonds, Lynn Hughes, D

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This summary presents an initial framework for policy analysis and planning in media and new media education. It is based on Leonardo Education Forum (LEF) meetings held in 2007 and 2008 that called for a “framework for policy analysis and planning in (new) media art

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education intended for stakeholders in the field– practitioners, educators, researchers, theoreticians, historians, etc, as well as administers and policymakers”. The LEF call led to four international meetings of new media experts and educators: Mutamorphosis, (Nov. 8-10, 2007, Prague), re:place 2007 (the Second International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology, Nov, 14, 2007, Berlin), ISEA 2008 (the 15h International symposium on Electronic Art, July 27, 2008, Singapore) and ARS Electronica, Linz (Sep. 2008). These consultation meetings were structured around a number of focus issues with the aim of
Identifying key issues in the

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Establishing the principal areas of concern
Providing concrete recommendations

Focus Issues
The meetings established the need to focus on the following four areas:

Curriculum Mapping Initiative
Institutional / Organizational Standards and Benchmarks
Network-centric and Intercultural Learning Methods and Processes.
Media Art, Science and Technology Research Methods Platform

1 Curriculum Mapping Initiative
Media art education is currently challenged by a variety of opportunities opening up due to the pace of technological developments in contemporary media. How can we support a culture of reflecting and shaping such media and technologies for innovative future education. The need for a comprehensive gathering of fundamental information about the variety of approaches to curriculum design across jurisdictions and levels was identified. An international mapping project was recommended. One possible approach would be a “hybrid model” in which information on international variations in the sequence from foundational training to doctoral research is gathered on one “axis” and then juxtaposed (or “crossed”) with information on the way technical skills are balanced with critical, theoretical and historical content in these same contexts.
2 Institutional / Organizational Standards and Benchmarks
An international platform for intelligence gathering on benchmarks and standards for new media art education is also needed. This will support international and regional advocacy for teaching and degree quality standards, as well as provide guidelines for the promotion and professional development of teaching staff. It will also enable inter-institutional flexibility for student exchange and mobility.

Network-centric and Intercultural Learning Methods and Processes.
We urgently need to clarify the processes and goals of new media learning, particularly between very different technological and/or cultural situations. The integration of organized networks that use self-directed, or peer-to-peer, learning -with academic knowledge production is a key challenge in the field. As well, linguistic and cultural dominance in new media theory and across platforms is a barrier to truly global participation in the art/science/technology communities.

4 Media Art Science and Technology Research Methods Platform
The urgent need for improved comparative knowledge and information resources about media arts research methodologies was stressed. It is important to identify, describe, collect and share existing and emerging media art research methods, including their context of implementation. A platform, consisting of an online database of case studies and proven methods, would provide the framework needed to further acknowledge, validate and legitimize media art research methods by peers, partners, educators, funding bodies and other stakeholders. There is likewise a need to consolidate recent efforts to classify and evaluate methodologies, which includes articulating the meaning of the concepts like “practice based” and “practice led” research

Action Points:

Focused, funded research proposals on these topics:
Several discussion groups at the sessions suggested that these four areas (and possibly subsections of them) should be taken on as research projects by small, well-focused teams with appropriate funding. This may be the only way to obtain in-depth studies useful for planning and policy development. If the LEF New Media Education group tracks these projects, it will be possible to integrate findings from them into a shorter and very credible document of recommendations that could then be distributed internationally via a variety of networks and organizations. This now seems like the best way to produce a solid White Paper.

More specifically, for example, Bronac Ferran, Tapio Makela, and Maja Kuzmanovic, members of the group discussing media research methods at ISEA 2008, plan to structure a research proposal around this question and apply for funding. Similarly, there was a suggestion that the third area could be taken on, initially as a panel for a major education conference, the aim of this experience leading to the formation of a team research proposal. It seems clear that these suggestions need to be pursued and ways of supporting them identified. Researchers interested in proposing research in the first two areas need to be found. It seems particularly important that the LEF efforts and those of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) be well coordinated so that scarce resources are shared and resulting recommendations have as much impact as possible. The ASEF discussion does not specifically address North America and it has been suggested that LEF could collaborate with the North American aspects of the ASEF efforts.

Minimal Backbone:
There is a need to formalize a steering group for this initiative to provide a minimal “backbone” to promote, track and support research initiatives focused on the areas identified. It seems likely that researchers will be more interested in pursuing serious research projects in these areas if they understand that their work will be supported by LEF and other high profile organizations, and that this association will provide an international platform for disseminating the research. In other words they should be made to feel that choosing to do research in these four identified areas will be strongly supported and recognized, and that it will be integrated into other internationally based research so that it leads directly to lobbying for policy. Their research will count because they are working with LEF and other groups towards a coherent international goal.

Preliminary Research and Coordination:
After a steering committee is in place, a graduate student working with the committee could provide some initial coordination and research. Concordia and OCAD universities have committed $500 each towards support of this student. If other institutions could contribute modest amounts we could hire someone to really seed the more in-depth process. The steering committee could propose what this student should do and perhaps solicit other contributions to help sustain this sort of coordination.

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5 Responses to “DRAFT: Leonardo Education Forum Strategy summary on media art education”

  1. roger malina Says:

    paul=thanks for starting this blog discussion= note= we will be discussing the Leonardo Education Forum education white paper at the
    LEF meetings during the college art association meeting in los angeles end of february. we will also be dissussing what other topics would lend themselves to
    development as LEF white papers and whether there is a group of volunteers intersted in developing a white paper

    meanwhile also the new leonardo education forum web site has just opended in betatest

    roger malina

    Welcome to the new Leonardo Education Forum web site

    This site is designed to provide a space and the opportunity for ideas and practices to come together from around the world that explore the interactions between art, science, and technology.

    This site is organized generally as shown in the iconographic menu at the top. The content on this site is maintained by its co-creators–that is, the members like you that register and submit their observations, accounts, media and anything else that is relevant to the discussion. This site is both an historical archive and a work in progress.

    Begin to create and document various groups, histories, perspectives, models, objects, and actions by clicking the ‘helical screw’.

    Please keep in mind that many of the site’s visitors come from widely divergent backgrounds, and may include younger individuals not familiar with some of the history as well as people from around the globe and for whom English may not be an accessible language.

    Over time, this site will host contributions, publish interviews, and describe some of the best examples of work examining the dynamical relationships among art, science, and technology influence each other.

  2. Jeremy Blank Says:

    This is an important and welcome document as I am currently undertaking a PhD at Curtin University WA Australia
    focusing on curriculum reform integrating new media, photography and performance as core aspects of Visual Art education
    at tertiary levels.

    there is little material available at present on such reform
    while I am aware the issue is one of general interest and concern.
    Thanks for posting this draft as it has alerted me to valuable debate and proposed actions being organized internationally
    which makes me feel less isolated.


    Jeremy Blank
    co-ordinator Electronic Arts
    Central TAFE
    Perth WA

  3. Ranulph Glanville Says:

    I think the action points are excellent, and stronger than the focus points.

    I am of course aware of the attempts to unify various approaches and levels of achievement that are represented by the Bologna process, for instance. But I doubt the value of this approach. Put very simply, it is concerned with targets and external descriptions rather than the internalised process and action of learning, and removes trust in the teacher. I would prefer to see a much more conversational approach, rather than one specifying achievements.

    No doubt I’ll seem out of time and out of place in my approach. But I would ask that we consider the thinking behind what is being proposed, and whether we should subscribe to this.

    Ranulph Glanville

  4. Natasha Vita-More Says:

    Thank you for the strategic analysis of possible academic futures.

    My immediate attention is directed toward the area of “Media Art, Science and Technology Research Methods Platform”. I would like to know more about its scope to be investigated. This has value to me because my PhD research is strongly based in the use of the sciences and technologies which need deeper, fuller research and which seem missing from discourse. For example, nanotechnology is referenced in artistic works, but nanotechnology is not currently available, especially assembler nano/molecular engineering. AI has similar issues where AGI needs deeper investigations and discussion.

    The proposed applications and uses of emerging technologies which, while not avaialble yet, need to be looked at and included in theoretical studies because the potential for their affecting artistic practices is a field in itself.

    Natasha Vita-More

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