Technology for art's sake gets share of Pounds 10m

March 6, 1998

THE third phase of a Pounds 10 million programme to develop technology for improving teaching in higher education is being announced this week, writes Alison Utley.

Thirty-two new university projects in disciplines as diverse as music, history, art, mechanical engineering and nursing have received backing from the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme.

Mike Matfin, corporate planning manager of the London Institute, has received Pounds 300,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council's scheme, money which he says will be used to develop students' understanding of drawing skills.

Drawing is central to all that is produced in the broadest sense of art and design, Mr Matfin said. But students who have not had the chance to develop an individual style tend to be dictated to by art and design software packages. Instead of liberating them, the packages constrain their work.

The London Institute, in partnership with the universities of Brighton and Ulster plus two art colleges, will develop a CD-Rom package covering every aspect of drawing and the development of visual literacy. It will be equally appropriate for beginners as for advanced students and will serve the needs of fine artists, architects and engineers.

"The computer is a clumsy drawing tool," said Colin Cima, acting head of Chelsea College of Art, which is part of the consortium. "But there is a problem with teaching drawing today because it is no longer appropriate for hundreds of students to sit around a life model for hours on end, particularly when they will spend so much of their time drawing with computers."

Other successful bids for TLTP3 include the University of Leeds for a technology in pharmacology project; University of Newcastle for a facilitated network for learning in medicine and health sciences; University of Ulster for a teacher education and new technology project; University of York for assisting small group teaching through electronic resources; University of Teesside for the courseware for history consortium and the University of North London for a programme to develop key skills using technology-based learning packages.

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