The learningscape of a virtual design atelier

Jennefer Hart, Theo Zamenopoulos, Steve Garner


The development of e-learning platforms is fundamentally changing the nature of education across all disciplines. Art and design education has traditionally taken place within a studio environment and its model of teaching and learning has been informed by the atelier approach which has a distinctive educational and cultural history. Signifi cant pressures arise today in undergraduate art and design education and partly these drive the need to establish an effective and viable modern studio experience. Not only must any new studio support student learning of practice and principles, for example, by allowing students to work alongside experts, it must foster the community and culture of the creative industries. As if this wasnt diffi cult enough, any innovation in teaching and learning must not incur the huge costs and resource demands of our current models of art and design education and it must be scalable to provide a stimulating experience for large numbers of students with diverse backgrounds, abilities and needs. This paper reports on a suite of studies that were carried out as part of a JISCfunded project titled ATELIER-D. The aim of the project was to create an online virtual design learning environment that replicates and improves the features of traditional face-to-face studio education. The paper makes reference to new curricula at the Open University, particularly a new FHEQ level 4 online design course fi rst presented in February 2010 to 350 students.

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