Welcome to the Tactile Academia Blog!
Tactile Academia is about exploring ways of teaching and learning in Higher Education – particularly, but not exclusively, in Art, Media and Design. The idea is to find a way to link creative practice with academic research. This project started with a particular look at object-based learning as a missing link between the two. Since then all sorts of experiential learning have been explored, particularly making both objects and visualising ‘hidden academic practice’ in a number of ways – from simple doodles to making three-dimensional artworks. Really it’s all about getting the right side of the brain in on the act of academic research and writing.
This on-going research started as part of a teaching excellence fellowship I was awarded by Staffordshire University, where I teach three days a week. My main role there is teaching study skills (and especially essay writing) to studio-based art and design students, which showed me first hand how disengaged students often are when it comes to academic practice. Having trained as a designer myself, I started thinking about what helped me when I was studying, and used these strategies to develop a range of learning activities to allow students to explore their thinking. This includes a lot of objects, visual metaphors and analogies, making projects and writing in all sorts of genre.
At the same time I also started to look for like-minded people facing similar challenges. And as the odd writing conference wasn’t enough, I decided to organise my own workshops – and was lucky enough to get some funding for these from the Higher Education Academy (HEA) as well as the support of the Writing-PAD network. We even had a writing retreat! On this blog you will find write-ups of these events, and it is worth looking at them for the work of the brilliant guest speakers I was lucky to have. (And if you are looking for a more academic format, check out Volume 6, Number 2 of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, which I guest-edited collating contributions from speakers and participants of the workshops.)
So on this blog you don’t just find my thoughts and ideas, but also those of other people. Stuff I have come across at conferences and workshops, as well as on the internet or twitter. Some of the posts are guest posts, some of them are simply links to events or pages that might be of interest. Really I am trying to build a resource for like-minded people facing the same challenges as me. While my official project has been over for a while, the enthusiasm of the people I have met has been overwhelming, and so I have just kept going – just like the people I met along the way. So while I might not blog as frequently now as I used to, the Tactile Academia idea is still going strong!
If you want to become a contributor, please let me know through a comment and I’ll be in touch.
I hope you enjoy this blog and that you will find it useful.