This paper presents and discusses a blended course design in the international Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) master’s program developed and conducted by four Nordic partners. We examine a particular course - Visual cultures and aesthetics in digital communication and learning designs (VCAD) - in which e-activities are targeted to enhance a learning cycle shaped by the practical design experience of ten students. The cycle also includes theoretical reflections (Buhl 2013), and particular emphasis is put on social media, aesthetics, and visual culture for learning purposes (Ejsing-Duun & Buhl forthcoming). The blended learning course VCAD involved a combination of face-to-face teaching with usage of location-based and mobile activities involving i-nigma, Instagram, and Pinterest, which comprised their learning materials and platforms. Furthermore, the course included online activities via the learning management system Moodle and the presentation and video conferencing system Adobe Connect.Studies on design-based research (DBR) approaches (Amiel & Reeves 2008, Dede 2004) inspired the principles for the research design, as teachers made interventions during the VCAD course. The research approach was also moulded by the specific discipline of art education, which is characterized by currents in contemporary art and visual culture, where image-making as the social negotiation of meaning-making and cultural interventions is practiced (Mitchell 2002, Mirzoeff 2000, O’Rourke 2013). Our research focus is how blended, distributed e-activities provide a new approach to the field of visual arts education, which is traditionally based on image-making associated with presence and individual forms of expression in which theory is taught separately. The educational design of the VCAD course is discussed throughout the article. This discussion is supported by the VCAD course evaluation and the ten students’ design products and theoretical reports. We argue in favour of a theory-generating practice made operational through a functional learning approach comprising blended e-activities subordinate to the particular objectives of a specific discipline.
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