Welcome to the VOICE Conference 2021 special issue

Hello and welcome to the first ever JUICE Special Issue!

To say that a lot has happened since our last issue back in March 2020 is an understatement. The coronavirus pandemic has shifted education into a new paradigm and instigated a fundamental rethink of how we teach and support learning in creative disciplines.

But despite this, tutors and support staff across the world have gone above and beyond to ensure students have been able to continue with their studies. The speed with which teaching moved online during the early stages of the pandemic was truly remarkable, and provided a clear indication that many tutors had untapped reserves of creativity.

With this in mind, it felt appropriate to compile a special issue of JUICE. This issue documents the projects submitted to the 2021 VOICE conference (VOICE stands for Visualising Online Inclusive Creative Education), which focused on the following theme:

The near future of Creative Higher Education: what is the new blend?

The aim of the VOICE conference was to try and bring some clarity to the increasing move towards blended learning in creative disciplines. Eight teams of participants on UCA’s PGCert in Creative Education were tasked with investigating different aspects of how Covid has impacted on curriculum design and delivery. Over 90 interviews were undertaken, and having analysed their data each team created a poster of their findings and discussed them at a series of panel discussions at the VOICE conference in July 2021.

Let’s take a look at the conference themes.

Theme 1: Inclusivity: What has been the effect of teaching online on inclusive learning?

Theme 2: Course design: How do approaches to blended learning vary across disciplines post-pandemic?

Theme 3: Campus: What is the role of the campus in an increasingly blended environment?

Theme 4: Course delivery: How could tutors’ time be allocated more effectively in a blended approach to teaching?

Theme 5: Theories: How can theories of learning help us develop an effective approach to blended learning?

Theme 6: Community: What impact, if any, has teaching online had on course learning communities?

It is still too early to determine the long-term impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning in creative disciplines. However, by providing a range of perspectives the VOICE 2021 conference aimed to capture a sample of experiences that can help illuminate the path into the near future of creative education.

Finally, this special issue closes with an obituary for the legendary educator Sir Ken Robinson who sadly passed away in August of 2020. The work of Sir Ken and his passionate commitment to creative education was influential in informing the scope of JUICE, and his influence will continue for many years to come. In this article, Ray Martin reflects on Sir Ken’s life and legacy.

I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to the 2021 PGCert cohort for the dedication, enthusiasm and teamwork they demonstrated throughout the course. The outputs from the VOICE 2021 conference are a reflection of the perseverance, professionalism and creativity that every single participant brought to the learning experience.

I hope you enjoy this special issue of JUICE and find inspiration to guide you into the near future of creative education.

Take care,

Tony

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