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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Spinning our own Webs: Transforming a Writing-based Project into an Electronic Web-based Project

Joni Brenner, Janet Wilson.

This workshop explores what happens when a difficult project is recast in a new medium.

The Visual Literacy Foundation Course at WITS University is the foundation course for the School of Arts. It aims to introduce students to the very particular discourse of the visual and performing arts, and to enable students to then use the discourse and become integrated members of the visual and performing arts communities.

One of the key projects that enable such integration is what we call ‘the Conceptual Dictionary project’. In this project students are required to construct their own dictionary that explores and exemplifies various concepts that underpin the course, and are part of the discourse. The Conceptual Dictionary project has previously been conducted as an individual written assignment. It has consistently been met with great difficulty by the students and has required high levels of intensive support from the lecturers. This consistent struggle prompted the recasting of the project using an electronic medium.

With this shift in medium, students were more able to give written expression (something that is always a struggle for these students) to their competent verbal articulation of the concepts. They found that making web pages allowed them to visually overlap and inter-connect the concepts - something which was causing problems in the straight written versions of this project.

It is clear that different mediums enable different kinds of learning to happen. This presentation highlights the importance of choosing a new medium that is intrinsically aligned with the conceptual nature of the project itself.

Our research investigates the enabling effects of working with this new technological medium. It also focuses on the significance of the kind of new medium introduced to shift the experience of the project. This presentation also addresses some of the new problems that arose from shifting the medium


Joni Brenner  (South Africa)
The Wits School of Arts
University of the Witwatersrand

Joni Brenner is a visual artist and lectures in Visual Literacy at the Wits School of Arts

Janet Wilson  (South Africa)

  • Shifting the medium
  • Using visual arts principles to improve academic proficiency
  • Using strengths to drive a wedge into weaknesses

(60 min Workshop, English)