Reclaim Open Learning

better online learning for higher ed


September 20, 2013 by Courtney Santos

Matt Johnston, Coventry University

#picbod – Picturing the Body

This last academic year I ran an open and connected photography class called #picbod, Picturing the Body. The thematic focus of the class is the understanding and question of the photographic representation of the body. The nature of the material and tasks students would be working with meant that a strong community would be essential, and, as I was still keen to involve a wider audience beyond the University, I ran the class though a Google+ community. Alongside this I am always striving to have the students form a more active role in the connected environment both as a benefit to their learning through teaching and also as a way to promote interest in their work. One way in which this was accomplished was to have students give weekly roundups of the class ideas and outcomes; seeing the students show some personality on camera helped build the strongest community and peer relationships I have seen in any of the classes I have run myself or with Jonathan Worth.

Throughout the class, adjustments were made where necessary as a reaction to both the students present at Coventry and the online learners, although I must highlight how much both remote and attending learners supported one another in expanding and developing their practice. Taking a less visible role online also meant that online learners who may be shy about limited knowledge were able to freely ask questions to the community without any apprehension.

The ultimate evidence of the strong community relationships was when two online learners invited attending students to collaborate in putting on an exhibition and extension of the class in their native Spain, which was incredibly rewarding for both sets of learners.

#picbod 2013 took place in a variety of physical and online spaces including Twitter (via the #picbod hashtag), Facebook, WordPress blogs and the Google+ community which was the hub for this class.

Online learners’ work printed and exhibited in Coventry

Attending and online learners together after exhibition in Spain

An extension of the class tasks to coincide with the Spanish exhibition

Spanish press on the international exhibition

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