Chris Unsworth: The Knowledge Exchange: Devellping Network Support for IT in the Arts

Many Art & Design Higher Education Institutions are currently faced with an increasing skills gap for staff and students as the application of computers within this sector becomes increasingly important. This gap is proving extremely difficult to fill due to the restraints on expansion in HE. Most Art & Design institutions have never possessed established IT teaching staff/ departments which have the capacity to keep pace with this rate of change. This change is directly fed by the continuing and expanding influence of IT in the creative industries to which many institutions direct their graduates (fashion, graphics, television, multimedia etc.). This leads to a position where many established teachers are confronted by a need to satisfy a strong demand for IT instruction from their students but, because of high workloads, have little opportunity for the improvement of their own skills. It also leads to challenging inversions of the traditional educational process since students frequently develop greater IT knowledge than some of their tutors.

The School of Art & Design at the University of Derby is now implementing a strategy which aims to unify all staff and students within one Internet based communications environment and by which we can support the exchange of IT knowledge as well as providing diverse other educational and 'social' functions.

In the Head First presentation we will look at how the system works and its' potential to develop a learning environment which focusses strongly on collaboration and the opening up of knowledge exchange between staff, students and potentially any other interested partcipants across the Internet.