Spode-Works
News

ACAVA Studios: Spode Works Open Studios With Bitjam

28 Sep, 2017

Next weekend at Bitjam we will be opening our doors to the public for the next ACAVA Studios: Spode Works open studios event. Each year a selection of studios welcome members of the public to come and see their work, holding demonstrations and workshops for people to take part in. Bitjam are hosting code workshops to demonstrate coding on a beginner level, so anybody, including children, can join in and learn on the day.

The 43 studios at ACAVA Studios: Spode Works are making a valuable contribution to the development of the Spode site, as a cultural centre for creative industries and the revitalisation of Stoke town. The studios are home to artists of traditional art forms such as painters and ceramicists, but with added contribution from more modern and technological expressions of art such as web developers and graphic designers.

As well as our code workshops, Bitjam are using the open day opportunity to showcase the Spode Works weather station which we’ve developed. The weather station is a digital machine which will tell you the weather conditions and can be found in the Bitjam studio, number 22. We’ve added an audio twist to make it relevant to the area, and the upcoming Stoke for UK City of Culture 2021 bid, by programming the weather station to deliver weather updates in “Stokie” dialect.

Further to our contribution to the city of culture bid, we’ve also been working on a computerised system that uses Stoke regional dialect to create poetry. The system is called ANNA and as part of the open day we’ll be putting our neighbour Fred Phillips to the challenge of creating equally as compelling poetry. We’ll have more details about “Fred Against the Machine”, information about workshop times and how you can help us to develop ANNA in our next blog post, out tomorrow.

ACAVA Studios: Spode Works open studios are next Saturday 7 / Sunday 8 October.

Digital Skills

MOOCs for the Modern Learner

23 Nov, 2016

These days, people want everything fast. Shopping, communication, money, knowledge. It’s all available at the click of a button. Some may argue this dilutes the experience, and the ease of which the user is rewarded creates bigger demand. This is reported to be putting pressure on pretty much every industry to come up with new and innovative ways to access their services. However, this demand for harder, better, faster, stronger can be more innocently translated in to a desire for improvement. A hunger to grow and develop.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are an interesting technological development for the education sector as they have been created, basically, in response to ethical pressures. Nobody should be denied access to an education, and the internet has created an enormous and high-speed gateway to learning on a global-scale. These days you could live in Timbuktu and still stream Ted Talks! MOOCs have enabled people around the world to learn and develop their skills, free of charge and with incredibly easy accessibility.

We believe great thing can happen when Moocs can be available on your mobile phone. People carry an incredible amount of resources around in their pocket, available to extract information at the touch of a button. We should focus on this mobile small scale consumption of knowledge rather than forcing people into the tired model of classroom replication.

Learners respond extremely well to bite size courses, so the ability to learn purely from their mobile phones adds to the appeal and nurtures the desire to gain more knowledge and insight in to subjects that interest them. For some, this may be The Kardashians, but for every KIMYE there’s the next Stephen Hawking accessing knowledge, information, and most of all, confidence.

So what’s next for MOOCs? Perhaps a focus switch to building mobile platforms before tackling desktop. People interact differently with online learning compared to offline. They tend to consume little and often so MOOC technology needs to adhere to this way of learning. While the intention may be there to develop their knowledge, if they’re not able to gratify this in an instant, they may become distracted and move on to something else. People spend hours of their day, shopping using their mobiles, socialising using their mobiles, learning using their mobiles. We want to feed this creativity by giving them access to the platforms they need to keep on growing.

Bitjam are keen to be involved in projects that seek to improve access to information for the masses. Helping people to grow and develop is one of the fundamental reasons behind the existence of Bitjam, and our understanding of this type of study is unrivalled in the area. We have developed a number of educational apps and platforms already, that involve researching the end users needs and we advocate designing education software for mobiles.