I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with Eddie Duggan of the BA (Hons) Computer Games Design course at UCS. Eddie has been organising From Cardboard to Keyboard and Back, the XVII Annual Colloquium for the International Board Game Studies Association, due to be hosted at UCS’s Ipswich campus later this month. It is a major conference with papers being presented from academics, historians, archaeologists and students from around the world.

I agreed to design and artwork the conference programme last year, and after a hectic few weeks of work on the contents over Easter, the artwork was finally sent to print this week. Eddie and I involved second year UCS graphic design and illustration students in the process, who in small teams had to pitch concepts for a cover illustration and delegate maps, with Eddie acting as an external client who they had never met before. The activity provided them with a chance to hone their professional skills by presenting their concepts to someone who wasn’t a peer or a lecturer they were familiar with.


Colloquium programme cover with the winning illustration by second year graphic design student team comprised of: Jamie Bird, Tatjana Gecmane and Georgina Warden; who won a ‘client pitching’ activity to have their work featured in the publication.

It has been an honour to be involved in some small way with this conference, and great to have been able to give graphic design students a chance to have their work showcased to an international audience.


I’m proud to have recently finished working on the third edition of Childhood Remixed, a University Campus Suffolk (UCS) online interdisciplinary academic journal themed on childhood. The journal, published annually, has previously only featured papers from staff and students at UCS. However, this year much of the publication has been made up of submissions to the international Children and Childhoods Conference held at UCS in July of last year.


The international flavour of this edition demonstrates not just how much the journal has grown in three years, but how much UCS has developed in that time as well. First launched in 2012, Childhood Remixed was intended as a ‘stepping stone’ into the world of being peer-reviewed and published. For third year undergraduate and postgraduate students, and for lecturers who hadn’t been published before, this was an excellent opportunity for a safe trial into the daunting world of academic publishing. The journal still provides this platform, but now allows those same students and staff to be featured alongside academics and researchers from across the globe.

ChildhoodRemixed_pagesIt is hoped with this international issue, that the journal will be available to the wider public soon as a download rather than just internally within UCS as the previous two editions have been. More details will be posted here when it is available.

Thanks to Dr Alison Boggis, Senior Lecturer in Early Years at UCS, who has tirelessly pushed this publication forward since its first inception three years ago.  Read a report of the launch of the first edition here on Blogger.

Yesterday I attended the annual UCS (University Campus Suffolk) Learning and Teaching conference. It was a day packed with presentations looking at open, distant and e-learning, as well as investigating how technology in both the lecture theatre and online can enhance learning.

Keynote speakers, Dr Andrew Middleton and Professor Stephen Gomez discussed student engagement and learning landscapes. Gomez interestingly pointed out that perceptions of what constituted a lecture when he first came to education hadn’t changed since the 14th century, whereby a didactic method of imparting knowledge from one source, the lecturer, to a passive audience, the students, was still being used today. He related this to the differences in business or health care in the 14th century to current day practice, stating that as academics we were either incredibly lucky to hit upon the ‘correct’ methodology back then, or we needed to rethink these old ideologies.

Throughout the rest of the day, I heard speakers discuss the benefits of online handbooks and  teaching resources; using technologies for adaptive release of tests to students (whereby a learner can not progress to the next stage of a test until they’ve completed that section correctly); the advantages of verbal feedback being supplied as audio files; and the idea of releasing feedback and grades separately to encourage reflection and help students see feedback as supportive rather than linking it to what they may see as negative grades.

In the afternoon Professor David Gill gave a presentation on how Web 2.0 technologies had become leading tools in linking students, academic research and the press, with how the Looting Matters blog, which reports on archaeological research and stolen antiquaries, had become a ‘go to’ website for Reuters when reporting on such issues. As a counterpoint to some of the other presentations during the proceedings, Dr Fidel Meraz and Dr Mike Doherty, lecturers from the UCS Interior Architecture and Design course, discussed the importance of not relying on the fetishisation of technology when working with students who have to have an experiential perspective on the human and social aspects of navigating space and designing for interaction in a physical environment.

The day was extremely stimulating. The pedagogical rationale surrounding different frameworks of teaching, and how the  methodology behind decisions of delivery using technology has provided much food for thought in considering my own teaching. In particular, Professor Gomez demonstrated an online resource for tagging imagery which could be very useful in critiques about student work, or when teaching the history of design.

However, throughout the day there were many questions I felt weren’t being discussed. These include:
—data protection of staff recording things on personal devices
—staff using personal devices they’ve paid for in order to meet expectations of contemporary education
—health and safety issues around RSI
—the possible disenfranchising of students who can’t afford up to date technology
—the possible disenfranchising of students and staff who live in areas of web poverty
—workload management and work/life balance issues in an ‘always connected’ culture

The focus of all the presenters tended to be on pedagogy without any discussion about any wider ethical implications. For example, data protection was only raised once in one Q&A session, and social justice was only briefly discussed at the end of the day in the plenary session when a student raised the issue for the panel to discuss. For me, for such ethical considerations in open, distance and e-learning have to be explored alongside all other discussions about the positive benefits of championing existing and emerging technologies in higher education. Drs Meraz and Doherty have a point in using the term the ‘fetishisation of technology’ and I worry we are rushing into a future where by all manner of problems will rear their heads down the line for both students and lectures if due consideration of such issues isn’t embedded into current dialogue.

These comments are not meant to be critical of any discussions that took place, or to be seen with any luddite connotations, because I embrace new technology in both my personal life and professional practice, and can truly see the potential advantages to both learners and teachers that emerged from the majority of presentations I witnessed. But they are meant as a word of caution on not divorcing the social and political implications of championing technology in any such discussions, and the belief that, as educationists, it is our duty to always be considering our practice holistically.

The BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at University Campus Suffolk is proud to be hosting Image Conference on 13 November 2012. Speakers will include designer and typographer Jonathan Barnbrook, illustrator and designer Brian Grimwood, Roderick Mills of the Association of Illustrators, and motion director Jonathan Yeo.

Held in the UCS Waterfront Building in Ipswich, the conference will look at where images come from, how they help us to understand the world we live in, as well as reflecting on the potential of images. The conference will co-incide with the UCS Waterfront Gallery hosting a retrospective exhibition of the work of Brian Grimwood, which celebrates the launch of his monograph: The Man Who Changed the Look of British Illustration.

There are three pricing structures for Image Conference: Standard ticket — £30, Studio ticket — £100 (admits 4), and Student discount — £10. Price of admission includes lunch and refreshments.

For more information, and to buy tickets, go to:

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