In the Open: Opening Access to Artistic Learning

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


This pecha kucha will present a new international model for foundational art education rooted in peer-to-peer perspectives (paragogy) augmented by open edutech. It will draw on examples of learning experiments produced by prosumers (based in Scotland, Canada and China) working within our open educational resource over 2020-21.

Intentional art education today takes diverse organisational forms: traversing small artist-led initiatives, international biennials, art academies and artistic practices. Artistic learning is porous and ubiquitous: it is lifewide: discovered through a wide variety of formal and informal arts contexts. It follows that foundational studies in art are not restricted to art academies, nor are the sole preserve of recent school leavers.

Until the pandemic pivot, there have been few virtual communities of foundational artistic learners. We can no longer assume that foundational art education will be a distinctly ‘live’, embodied experience.

How might art education catalyse the post-Covid recovery by engaging with emerging educational practices such as the open paradigm (Winn 2015), paragogy (Corneli 2011, 2016) and para-academia (Wardrop 2014)?

To partly address these questions, I will reflect on an open course I have co-created in 2020-21 in with my colleagues Jake Watts, Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski.

Contemporary Art & Open Learning is an open educational resource (OER that enables colleagues and art students to open access to artistic learning by peer-producing, codifying and sharing their own learning practices. In Edinburgh College of Art, it functions as a 10 ECTS ‘foundation course’ for taught postgraduate students transitioning into art practice from cognate disciplines. The OER practises a range of peer-based theories of learning and knowledge production to extend open access beyond the communal Third Places (Oldenburg 1999) frequently produced by artists. In particular, it experiments with ‘paragogics’, learning principles that offer a flexible framework for peer learning adaptable to any given context.

Embracing the Open Paradigm’s vision of education as a human right might better equip formal art education organisations – such as art schools, workshops and galleries – to fulfil UNESCO’s right to participate in cultural life. However, we must also remember that cultural life is fermented formally and informally. Working together, foundational OERs and people can catalyse the recovery by forming symbiotic colonies of artistic learning and, thus, new artworlds.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021
EventThe Foundation Course in Art and Design: Past, Present and Future: Collective Imagining - FutureLab Shanghai / British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow, Shanghai, China
Duration: 2 Dec 20213 Dec 2021


ConferenceThe Foundation Course in Art and Design
Abbreviated titleINFE 2
Internet address


  • Open Education
  • OER
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Contemporary Art
  • education
  • paragogy


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