As we continue to develop OSCAR the online student community in Art our students are becoming more involved and more integral to the development of the project. Together we are researching innovative ways to integrate the social network, designed to support our studio modules, across all of our programmes in Art. We have been invited to present at the RAISE conference in Nottingham this September which we are delighted to be able to attend with support from Digitally Ready. The theme this year is The Future of Student Engagement: Partnerships, Practices, Policies and Philosophies. I am working with two BA students (from our OSCAR student research group) on a joint presentation about the collaborative process of developing OSCAR. We will address student engagement particularly in relation to partnerships and practices highlighting our current focus on developing students’ professional online profiles.
The ‘member profile’ feature recently added to OSCAR enables students to start shaping a profile that represents them academically and professionally. Most students have several online ‘faces’ across the likes of Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc. We are keen to support them in shaping these identities and in learning how to ensure they are confident and informed about how these platforms represent them. They are increasingly aware of the importance of an online profile that can be separate from their social activities. And we as staff are keen to emphasise the value of an academic/professional space that is not public facing like sites such as LinkedIn.
We want to nurture and encourage a space where students learn how to shape their profile online in a sheltered environment. Learn is the key worked here. The time at University is an important pre-professional time where things should be tried, tested and developed. We want to foster an approach to building professional online identities that can evolve and develop without the consequences of immediate publication on a public facing network. The member profiles on OSCAR offer students this opportunity. They can build a profile through emphasizing their academic interests that enables them to connect with other students on different programmes and at various levels, whilst shaping their professional statement, CV, blog, website etc. in a subject specific peer group.
The students representing us at RAISE have the added opportunity of presenting at this high-profile conference. I am excited about the potential impact of this next year on the student research group, the wider student community in Art and the OSCAR learning environment.