"The virtual turn in education for socially engaged art" at The Third International Teaching Artist Conference: best, next and radical practice in participatory arts

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarInvited talk


This presentation considered how we can use the virtual environment for teaching the practice and theory of socially engaged art and in turn equip students to use it as a tool to collectively strengthen support and connectivity among artists. It is essential that we not only continue to enhance methods forteaching socially engaged art practices but that we learn how to use virtual teaching and learning methods to deliver this subject. While the virtual world opens exciting opportunities for teaching and
learning the skills and qualities practitioners need to engage in participatory arts practices, there are challenges and risks we must also address in order to nurture responsible social practitioners and ensure safety of our students and peers. Lastly, the virtual world also provides a significant tool for networking. It can be used to promote a sense of greater connectivity among those engaged in these practices in
their local regions and beyond, including teachers and practitioners of socially engaged art.

As the basis for this presentation and as a case study, I used my research and teaching at Shetland College, University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland since 2013. The virtual environment and synchronous video conference have served as a new method for teaching socially engaged art to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Use of these tools also helped raise awareness within the
wider university about this field of practice and facilitated connectivity among those working in the field across the Highlands and Islands, a large region characterised by remote and sparsely populated communities.

Additionally a virtual symposium provided a unique way to enhance learning while facilitating connectivity among students, lecturers, professional artists and organisations from 12 locations from Scotland, England and New York. Continuation of the Virtual Symposium annually has fostered learning, professional development and mutual support across regions nationally and internationally.

By using virtual tools, I have been able to successfully introduce this field of practice to undergraduates, provide advanced level study for regional artists as well as expand and strengthen awareness in a region where practitioners of socially engaged art are widely dispersed and isolated. Networks facilitated by using virtual tools provide support although we must address their challenges and risks. As practitioners
and teachers we can create mutually beneficial networks and raise awareness of the potential that socially engaged art holds for arts graduates to expand their practice, contribute to the quality of arts activities in their diverse communities and indeed increase professional opportunities.
Period3 Aug 20165 Aug 2016
Held atCreative Scotland, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational