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Art Crimes by AADES


I am writing to you in my capacity as the Assistant Principal of the Distance Education Centre Victoria (DECV), executive member of the Australasian Association of Distance Education Schools (AADES) and co-leader of an innovative collaborative national curriculum project called Art Crimes.

Art Crimes is a project currently being successfully implemented using ICT and Virtual Worlds. The project involves a small team of Queensland and Victorian leaders and teachers as a National Partnership. In 2010, Susan Connell (Cairns SDE) Chris Knowlman (Brisbane SDE) and I successfully secured an AADES Innovation Research Grant to develop the Skoolaborate a SecondLife project. The development of Skoolaborate was further supported by Susan securing PCAP funding.

As with all cutting edge technologies and programs, there are teething problems and setbacks that would deter even the most enthusiastic educator and technician. Not so with this group. Every setback, roadblock and piece of departmental red tape was worked through, worked around or renegotiated. The level of support provided to each member of the team by their individual schools executive and collectively by AADES has been very much appreciated and vital to the success of the project.

Research indicates that eLearning is the fastest growing educational sector worldwide and technology is an important tool in facilitating changes to education that will improve outcomes for students. The Skoolaborate project involves our three schools, and aims to explore different pedagogical approaches to flexible and online learning. It involves students directly in the project and in a new learning experience.

Project outline:

The project focuses on values, culture, beliefs and transitions across curriculum areas.

Skoolaborate is a global initiative that centres on a ‘virtual world’ but involves a blend of technologies including, blogs, online learning, wikis and the virtual world to transform learning. We used these tools with the aim of providing engaging collaborative learning experiences for students aged between 14 and 17 years. The three distance education schools have collaboratively designed online units of work for students’ use.

The Skoolaborate project has directly provided opportunities for students to access information about values, cultures, beliefs and transitions and view tasks set in line with each concept. We have endeavoured to blend real world and in-world experiences to make learning more meaningful and engaging. The project integrates curriculum and digital technologies into collaborative actions.

The virtual world ensures discussion and contribution by all students participating, no matter where they log in from. Everyone can contribute and positively feedback to others working within the online / inworld community. We anticipate that over time the units of work will be modified by the students as well as the teachers and will grow to reflect the diverse nature of our communities.

Skoolaborate – our virtual learning space is secure and accessible only via invitation. Students from the three Distance Education Schools have been invited to participate. We began with a group of students from Cairns SDE. We have used our initial experiences to improve the skills and understanding essential in achieving our goal of improving educational outcomes for our students – particularly those who are disadvantaged by geographical isolation, medical issues and/or lack of opportunity for social interaction. Last week students at Brisbane SDE worked with a recognised expert in graphic arts and graffiti culture as well as your expert teaching staff from BSDE and CSDE and me to successfully deliver and engage the students in a very powerful program of learning. I have included some of the students’ artwork in the Virtual World at the end of this correspondence so that you are able to see some of the outcomes of their labours.
On March 10th and 11th fifteen of our Victorian Distance Education students will participate in the Skoolaborate / Art Crimes project and continue the work begun in Cairns and further developed in Brisbane.

In May, five students from each of the three distance education schools will meet in Cairns at the CSDE for a four day workshop that will see them collaborate and produce a real world 3.6m x 2.4m graffiti wall that will be simultaneously developed in our Art Crimes area inworld. This collaboration will be streamed live via the web to each student’s school and also be accessed via the AADES website.

In summary, teachers’ expertise in this project aims to improve engagement and explore new pedagogical approaches to flexible and on-line learning for all students. Skoolaborate / Art Crimes has directly contributed to building a culture of collaboration across distance education schools that will continue to grow as we embrace the challenges of the national curriculum.

Skoolaborate is an international partnership that promotes professional learning and sharing amongst distance educators. It has created opportunities for educators to network with others in like schools across the AADES membership. AADES was formed in 1993 and currently has in excess of 1200 members in all Australian states, New Zealand, Asia, North America, and Europe.

Our pilot project has brought together students, support staff and teachers from three of the (AADES) Distance Education Schools. The research outcomes associated with the project will be published and the learning shared with all AADES schools. The Art Crimes project is now getting some attention from school communities overseas that are exploring teaching and learning in virtual environment. The potential to build a global community is here now.

One possible scenario

A recent addition to our build in Skoolaborate / SecondLife is a virtual studio and gallery and who knows, by establishing a Studio in Art Crimes and exploring some connections to the business and arts worlds we not only bring realism to the virtual environment but ultimately we may provide greater access for young people to engage in the Arts in a Second Life model in partnership with artists and industry.


Take a four minute tour and hear from a parent and students about their experience at:


Specific acknowledgment and thanks to:

Cairns SDE –
Susan Connell / Alison Butler / Principal: Doug Quadrio

Brisbane SDE –
Chris Knowlman / Eileen Furlonger / Janelle Cameron / Sue Michelmore / Principal: Neil McDonald

Distance Education Centre Victoria –
Antoine Toniolo / Matt Auman / Yang Huang / Justin DeLima / Principal: Bronwyn Stubbs

Mark Kent
Assistant Principal
Distance Education Centre Victoria

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