Digital Portal Creates New Dimensions for Art’s Studio Community by Christine Ellison

I am excited to announce the launch of OSCAR the Online Studio Community at Reading. This new digital platform has been developed to support the vast range of teaching and learning activities that happen across studio modules in Art, within the department itself but also off-campus and internationally.

While the studio remains an important environment for students of Art it is no longer the sole site of production. The OSCAR initiative has emerged in response to the changing requirements of studio teaching and learning in a culture of nomadic, digital, and transcontinental art practices.

On receiving a TLDF grant last year to develop this project my main concern was to create a useful, dynamic site, and not merely another hoop to cajole staff and students through. Keen not to compete with or replicate the functionality of Blackboard, Flickr, Facebook, etc., the new site has been designed to connect and exploit these existing web platforms where we already had strong presence. As such, OSCAR has become a portal to the Art community at Reading: a collation to one site, of blogs, groups, feeds, and links, that map the extensive reach of the department’s studio activities.

One of the core objectives has been to make visible the multitude of student events, projects, and exhibitions that happen across our programmes at home and internationally. OSCAR’s large image galleries feed from our regularly updated image archive on Flickr. There are also blogs for our visiting artist lecture series, student-led gallery programme and off-site projects.

Crucially, it’s not all controlled by staff. Students can join groups and get involved by posting to discussions and blogs. As the site evolves we hope to further student involvement in the administration and management of the site. OSCAR’s 24-hour accessibility supports the varying timetables of our students, who may be studying on a joint honours degree, on a work placement, or on exchange abroad. It is also a platform for our research students who are based across the globe.

OSCAR collates the diverse and far-reaching aspects of our ambitious teaching and learning community in Art, supporting flexibility in a progressively mobile culture where the studio is continually re-imagined.