Monday, 28 January 2008


What do we need to evaluate? How do we evaluate it?
There are two things about MUVEs that are potentially beneficial for art and design students. The most obvious one is the opportunity to produce art and design using this new media type. I believe that MUVEs like Second Life are a future graduate destination, and I fully expect some of my students, at some point in the future, to get a full time job in a MUVE. So this first area is about MUVEs as one particular form of creative practice. The criteria for evaluating this first area would be to do with the success of individual artifacts and their application.

The second aspect of usefulness, and one that has broader educational relevance, is the opportunity for MUVEs to enhance learning through the act of creating stuff. I'm keen that we evaluate whether the process of building a structure in a 3D virtual space has helped students to understand themselves and their practice more fully, whoever they are and whatever their practice may be. This second area is about supporting the development of knowledge pertinent to many different types of practice. The criteria for evaluating the success of this would relate to the development and consolidation of knowledge.

It is important to separate out these two areas and make a firm commitment to the latter. The danger is that we focus too much on technical skills and aesthetics, and skirt over the deeper, more generic learning that is taking place. It would be easy to mistake the best bit of design that comes out of the pilot for the best bit of learning. Our evaluation needs to be able to reveal the learning of the individuals that created a bit of a mess, but got loads of learning out of the experience.

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