Creative Digital Attributes

One of the challenges we face is bridging the macro and the micro of approaches to teaching and learning. On the one hand we have high level university-wide strategies and on the other the design of individual teaching sessions. The gulf between these two ‘levels’ is so wide that it can be difficult to understand how strategy might influence the immediacy of day-to-day teaching.

Generally, course validation process, handbooks and the design of assessments should bridge this gap but it’s rare to meet anyone in a teaching role that sees the course validation process as a positive design opportunity – one which draws clear threads between teaching values or principles and the day-to-day of running a course.

Incorporating digital into teaching and learning  inevitably suffers from the same problem. We can create strategies that talk of embedding digital into all aspects of teaching and discuss digital ‘tips and tricks’ for teaching sessions but struggle to define, or work with, course level digital learning design. The result is often laudable institutional aspirations and a smattering of ‘groovy’ digital interventions by confident staff who have agency through their structural position within the institution… 

This year the University of the Arts London launched its Creative Attributes Framework (CAF), which provides a valuable shared language to respond to the challenges I’ve outlined. It’s nine high level attributes which are clustered into three areas (all of which fall under the banner of Agency):

Making things happen Proactivity
Enterprise
Agility
Sharing abilities and accomplishments with others  Communication 
Connectivity
Storytelling
Life-wide learning Curiosity
Self-efficacy
Resilience

The CAF was designed by Careers and Employability at UAL and is a great example of how taking a ‘becoming’ rather than ‘skills’ approach to employability stops ‘getting a job’ being in opposition to ‘getting a degree’. Or perhaps it demonstrates that curriculum and employability can operate on similar principles if the focus is on personal development rather than on collecting-knowledge-and-skills. The CAF has been well received at UAL and because many aspects of digital teaching and learning are about ‘becoming’ it was an obvious next step to develop a digital lens for the CAF.

The CAF-Digital or D-CAF as it’s becoming known is currently a simple list of digital skills, practices, capabilities, literacies, behaviours… which operate on a meso level, providing bridges or stepping stones between the macro and the micro – a form of curricular or learning design scaffolding. For example:

  • Being able to switch between different discussions and roles online – in Agility
  • Managing collaborative writing or media production online – in Communication
  • Documenting, reflecting on and analysing the development of an idea online – in Storytelling
  • Managing and analyzing large bodies of data – in Enterprise
  • Constructively responding to critique online – in Resilience
  • Seeking out people from beyond your immediate community – in Curiosity

Trying to define the D-CAF elements as a particular type in terms of skills, practices etc is not the aim. What is important is that they operate at a meso, in-between, level and that we agree that they are a valuable aspect of developing a particular creative attribute in the digital. The elements of the D-CAF are designed to be contextualised by disciplines and courses, each of which can describe their approach to facilitating a relevant collection of the D-CAF elements. Importantly, courses can also map their curricular to the D-CAF to highlight which elements their teaching supports in a language students can relate to.

The current draft D-CAF has around 30 elements mapped to the nine CAF attributes. We are in the process of consulting with colleagues from around the university to ensure that these elements are in the best possible form before we publish/post a version 1.0. I have a basic rule that the D-CAF has to fit on one sheet of A4 paper, just to keep us disciplined… I’ll share version 1.0 here under a CC license. My hope is that others can build on the work and modify it to reflect the character/aspirations of their own institutions.

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