Critiquing The Crit – the influence of technology and creative professional practice on the 21st Century peer learning environment.
This article explores the importance of the group critique in practice-based arts education and how it is evolving through the digital age citing the development of the College of Arts Digital Crit Room at the University of Lincoln. Through the observation of how the rapid development of technology has potentially impacted negatively upon the usage of the traditional art and design ‘studio’, the Digital Crit Room project identified how technology may have threatened teaching practices that are critically reliant on a ‘studio culture’ with peer learning at their centre. Laptops, wireless and mobile technology have encouraged and enabled students to study and create anywhere, but a critical place of peer learning is potentially being eroded.
One of the most effective forms of peer learning in practice-based arts subjects is ‘the crit’ in which students display their work alongside each other’s so that criticism, discussion, comparison and feedback can be offered. The crit is a vital part of arts learning and teaching, offering live feedback from students and staff alike on work-in-progress or completed creative work, but given the potential erosion of the studio where else can this pedagogically valuable activity take place?
Through the definition of a set of design values to inform the creation of a ‘destination’ learning environment that felt different to other learning spaces on campus, the project team researched into the working environments of the creative industries and compared them to the design of the usual higher education learning spaces. Informed by this activity, the College of Arts Digital Crit Room was created as a new learning space with participatory learning at its heart, that reflected the working behaviours and environments of the professional creative industries.