MASSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT – #FCL18

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On behalf of the Festival of Creative Learning I would like to extend a colossal welcome to all new and returning staff and students at the University of Edinburgh. For those of you new to the city or University we hope you enjoy the opportunity to explore new lands and to anyone that is lucky enough to call Edinburgh home, be sure to share your insider tips on all things creative with our new neighbours.

With this blog post we are delighted to announce the call for applications to participate in the second ever curated week of the Festival of Creative Learning, taking place from 19th – 23rd February 2018. This is a unique opportunity for you to embrace your creative spirit and find space for your imagination to flourish. We value openness, collaboration, creativity, mindfulness and experimentation so if you have an idea or project along these lines you should certainly apply. Our aims can be found on our website and we would encourage you  to consider these alongside the Festival Application Guidelines when completing your application (both also available on our website). The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 23rd October 2017.

Your event may involve performing, painting, crafting, writing, dyeing, baking, playing, escaping, debating, combining these, or something else entirely. It may be the celebration of something you have been planning for a while, or you might never have done anything like this before. All of these are equally valid as proposals and exciting for us to discover. To get even more inspired be sure to read our impact report available in an earlier blog post and watch the short Festival film from February 2017 available to view here.

We look forward to sharing more blog posts and creativity with you this coming year, but to make sure you don’t miss out on any updates follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UoE_FCL and Facebook @FCLUoE. You can also join our mailing list via this link: http://edin.ac/2us2Rqc (EASE log in required) or email us at creative.learning@ed.ac.uk.

Lucy Ridley & Jennifer Williams

Projects & Engagement Team

 

 

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Living the Learning

It was a bit of a shock coming back to work on Monday after a week spent in the sunshine on a mountaintop outside of Budapest (aka beautiful Visegrad). I was there for the annual FISZ Tábor or summer camp of the FISZ Hungarian Association of Young Writers. Paired with two brilliant Hungarian poets, Ferenc L. Hyross and Ferencz Mónika, Scottish-Mexican poet Juana Adcock and I spent the week translating each other’s poems, swimming in the Danube and climbing to the top of the mountain to soak up the breathtaking views. It was such an immersive learning experience! We lived, breathed, ate, drank and danced Hungarian culture into our bones.

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It reminded me that there are so many ways to learn, and that the real relationships we make with people when we are invited into their spaces and cultures are invaluable and privileged. It’s interesting to consider how we can celebrate ‘living the learning’ at a place like the University of Edinburgh, where so many people gather from so many countries and cultures, and where learning and border crossing take place not only in classrooms but also in so many other spaces – cafes, parks, dorms, bars, streets, mountaintops… that when we live together and play together learning comes naturally and does not feel forced, boring or difficult.

The idea of playful learning also came up in a conversation at the IAD in which a colleague introduced me to the Play and Creativity Festival at the University of Winchester. Led by Dr Alison James and her team, it looks like brilliant fun while also exploring what our Festival of Creative Learning hopes to experiment with and inspire in University learning and teaching culture – a diverse and open-minded approach to creativity, both in and out of the classroom, that can lead to incredible experiences and valuable innovations.

Somehow it’s Friday already! Last night I did a reading for the SUISS Summer School students who are working on Creative Writing and Scottish Literature here at the University of Edinburgh this summer, and tonight and tomorrow night I’m reading with three other poets at the Edinburgh Food Studio where the chefs have prepared a course to accompany each of our poems. I can’t wait to find out how the poetry tastes! Sweet, I hope… very sweet.

Happy weekend wishes and more soon, Jennifer

Jennifer Williams, Projects & Engagement Coordinator

Institute for Academic Development

 

 

The Festival of Creative Learning – past, present and future

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February seems like a long time ago, but we have been very busy behind the scenes of the Festival of Creative Learning, well, learning…and being creative. Before the Scottish summer and ‘other’ festivals truly overwhelm our senses, we would like to share some updates to remind you that we are here, and to begin sparking your imagination with ideas of how you can work with us from the new academic year.

Firstly, we have listened. Since the February festivities, we have been carefully reading all your feedback about all aspects of the very first Festival of Creative Learning. Informed by what we have learned so far, we are delighted to share that by September we will have a beautifully improved and significantly more functional website that we hope will represent the innovative and dynamic values we embody. In tandem with this we are working to make the event booking system more user-friendly, allowing our marvellous event organisers to showcase their offerings in a superior format.

The other big change you may notice is how we will communicate and share resources with those delivering or supporting events.  Basecamp attracted some criticism from those of you involved this year, so we are currently undergoing a process of separation from this platform whilst consolidating our resources based on what you have told us you really want. We are not quite ready for the grand unveiling yet but we are confident enough to assure you that it will not be perfect. We have decided to practice what we preach by being open to taking risks, to failing, and to ‘building and prototyping ideas in a supportive environment’. As always, we look forward to receiving your feedback.

It has not all been about change though, we have also taken some time to celebrate the achievements and recognise the positive impact of the Festival. Just this week, Jennifer and I bumped into two students who worked with us in different capacities this year and are currently enjoying internships at the University. Hearing that one of these superstars is currently concocting a cunning plan in collaboration with other members of the University community to develop their event ready for the Festival next year has made our month. Gladly this is just one example of the impact the Festival has had. The next piece of good news is that hot off the press is our Festival Impact report, designed by Dave McNaughton to highlight some more but by no means all of the Festival stories. Take a look below and be sure to share with your friends and family.

 

The excitement does not end here! We are very pleased to share our Festival film crafted Perry Jonsson. This includes a selection of images and interviews from the February week and is a celebration and alternative way of capturing the Festival. You can view it here. We hope you like it!

We are often asked how people access support for creative events outside the February week and very soon we will have the answer for you. Coming to an Institute for Academic Development webpage near you we will shortly be announcing our revamped funding schemes process, which might just have something for you!

Finally, for those of you heading away at any point over the next few months have a lovely time. For anyone like me who will be working hard non-stop throughout do get in touch and share your ideas and plans for the next Festival of Creative Learning.

Festivals, Festivals Everywhere!

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credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Edinburgh is widely regarded as a world-leading festival city with a colossal programme of events running throughout the year. Beyond the official calendar promoted through Edinburgh Festival City there seems to be a never ending stream of diverse, engaging and exciting festivals appearing…everywhere! It is encouraging to see many of these festivals thriving and returning year-on-year.

At the Institute for Academic Development we loved delivering the first Festival of Creative Learning for The University of Edinburgh and have been dedicating time recently to explore the successes and growing edges of the curated week to inform future improvement and development. Having carefully combed through all the wonderful and constructive feedback we are beginning to shape a cunning plan to implement some changes. We want to provide even more opportunities and support for staff and students at the University who embrace the challenge of organising and delivering events throughout the new academic year. We will share all of this with you once the embargo* has been lifted, but in the meantime we would like to highlight a few other festivals the University is involved with that have attracted our interest lately.

Festival of Museums at The University of Edinburgh, 19th-20th May 2017. Part of the nationwide Festival of Museums with events taking place across University buildings.

Festival of Open Learning, summer 2017. Taster, introductory and short courses offered by the Centre for Open Learning.

Festival of Social Science, November 2017. A week-long celebration of social science with events held across the United Kingdom. Applications to organise an event are being accepted until the deadline on 4th May 2017. Guidance for potential University of Edinburgh applicants can be found here.

Our Festival Pop-up programme continues throughout the year, so if you would like support with arranging an event that meets our aims and values before February please contact us. We are also open to receiving guest blog post submissions should you have something to share that you feel our audience would enjoy.

*there’s not really an embargo, I’m just pretending to be a covert operative today as we had a VIP visiting our building earlier.

The Awards: the results are published

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On Wednesday 15th March 2017 we acknowledged the efforts of everyone involved in the curated week of the Festival of Creative Learning with an award ceremony and thank you reception at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI). The event was incredibly well intended by event organisers,attendees and partners, all of whom received a  beautiful Festival of Creative Learning stainless steel water bottle as a token of our thanks for their involvement in #FCL17. Take a look at the Storify we made of the event here.

We received 131 nominations for nine awards, which made the task of shortlisting and deciding the winners and runners up for each category incredibly difficult. We frequently found ourselves debating whether we could just give everyone an award, but eventually concluded nobody would thank us for keeping them there a week while we presented them all.

Now, as we are rounding up our Festival “decompression and future planning” week, I am pleased to publish the results for all who were unable to attend the event. Feel free to applaud your efforts and those of others as you scroll through the images below. All photography is courtesy of the marvellous Mihaela Bodlovic.

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Thank you once again to everyone involved. Be sure to look out for pop-up events throughout the year and get those thinking caps on for ideas you could pursue as a pop-up yourself or for #FCL18! Contact us to discuss your creativity in more detail.

Meet Eat Drink Think

A great blog post on very interesting (and award winning!) event for #FCL17

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Robbie Bushe from University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Open Learning organised this great event at the end of February as part of the University’s Festival of Creative Learning. It was held in collaboration with one of Edinburgh’s newest and most innovative restaurants, The Food Studio, brainchild of Benedict Reade and Sashana Souza Zanella. The restaurant was started in November 2015 and has garnered praise and The List’s Newcomer of the Year award in 2016.

Meet Eat Drink Think was run on three consecutive evenings and the purpose was to highlight the contribution of Europe and Europeans to Scottish food and culture. Each evening four university tutors from the Centre for Open Learning gave short talks on various aspects of food and culture, and the menu served by Food Studio was inspired by the subjects of these presentations.

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Alongside me were Carina Dahlstrom-Mair, John Gordon and Pasquale Iannone.  Carina started the proceedings with a lovely talk…

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I’m a Perfectionist… Get Me Out Of Here!

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Mindfulness by Darragh O Connor, under a Creative Commons license

“Are you a perfectionist? Does this cause you problems?” Clearly there are a lot of students who answer yes to these questions as our event was fully booked with a long waiting list. So if perfectionism causes you difficulties, take heart – you’re not alone!

The workshop was designed to involve a lot of active learning and talking with other students. For the first exercise we shared in pairs the positive aspects of being a perfectionist, as well as the problems we experience, then fed these back to the whole group. Perfectionism isn’t something we have to get rid of from our personalities; it’s possible to keep perfectionism in balance so we can reap benefits. Participants mentioned that perfectionism can lead not only to achieving a high level of performance, but being well-organised and reliable, and feelings of satisfaction and greater involvement in whatever they’re doing.

How to overcome the problems though, which students said include stress, procrastination, dissatisfaction, loneliness, and low self-esteem because of unhealthy expectations?

We talked a lot about focussing on the idea of making progress rather than achieving perfection. In order to avoid procrastination we can break down tasks into small, manageable parts, focussing on working steadily through these, and rewarding ourselves for setting and achieving realistic goals. We also looked at moving on from ‘all-or-nothing thinking’, which sees everything that is not as good as we want it to be as a ‘failure’. We practiced changing a negative thought, such as ‘I did badly on that assignment’ to one which recognises difficult feelings but also any positives and pointers for making progress: ‘I was disappointed in my mark, but I got some positive comments for that assignment as well as some feedback about how to improve in future.’ This is an example of re-thinking ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity. We can turn any experience into a great opportunity by asking ‘what can I learn from this?’

In between the discussion exercises, Ali Newell from the Chaplaincy led us in mindfulness exercises that help relieve stress, including a sitting meditation and tai chi (simple mindful movement). No special equipment or clothes are needed for these exercises and it’s possible to do them as a lovely start to the day, in breaks from working, or to relax before going to bed. The Chaplaincy also offers free lunchtime mindfulness sessions (see below). We ended the workshop with some singing for fun – also an excellent stress-buster, very good for physical and mental health.

One of the things participants found very valuable was the chance to discuss how they would put their learning from the workshop into action. I was delighted by the positive feedback. We may run this event during the Festival of Creative Learning next year, and in the meantime, if you have problems with perfectionism, do look for help (e.g. from your Personal Tutor or Student Support Officer) and try some of the suggestions given above.

Rachel Howell

Web resources:

http://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/is-perfectionism-getting-in-the-way-of-your-life/

https://personalexcellence.co/blog/overcome-perfectionism/

 

Stress-busting mindfulness at the Chaplaincy:

Capacitar Tai Chi 1.10-1.40 pm Tuesdays

Mindfulness 1.10-1.50 pm Thursdays

Yoga 1.10-2.00 pm Fridays

All in room 1 at the Chaplaincy Centre. All free. All welcome.

CLAD THE WIKIHOUSE! Reflections on a week of creating, learning and keeping warm

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Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Our event provided a platform for participants of the Festival of Creative Learning to work together in the construction of a protective cladding for a small community office/art space (Wikihouse) in Glasgow. The Wikihouse is part of an ongoing Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) Project Office initiative and was assembled in the summer of 2016 for and by the children of Baltic Street Adventure Playground (BSAP) in Dalmarnock.

In this cladding phase ESALA Projects Office supported design collective Civic Soup (a team of recent graduates from the University of Edinburgh and Karlsruhe) to work in collaboration with industry partners BAM construction and CMS cladding. The design gave the local children a creative outlet by colourfully spray painting PVC panels which will allow them to establish an ownership of the finished building.

Clad the Wikihouse! gave participants a practical, physical, collaborative and creative platform to learn, supported by the Festival of Creative Learning. Together we created a beautiful and weather-tight space which is safe and comfortable to use for the local community. The project would not have been possible without the help and enthusiasm of everyone who partook in the process and the finished building is something we can all be proud of.


A day by day reflection:

MONDAY

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Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Everyone was full of excitement to get started on site. Our first task, as would be the manner every morning was to acquaint everyone with the team, the site, each other and the day’s activities. Inside the Wikihouse BAM had invited a plasterer to teach the team how to progress with the internal finishes. The team took turns to break from the timber cutting outside to start constructing plasterboard box-outs around the windows and start taping and plastering all the joins. With all the structural timbers cut by the end of the day the team de-briefed and reflected over a well-deserved hot chocolate. This was a valuable opportunity for the design team to gauge the success of the day as we reflected and shared what we had all enjoyed learned and what could be improved for the team taking part.

TUESDAY

Having cut all the timber we needed for the canopy, our aim for Tuesday was to have the
canopy fixed to the Wikihouse. As the bones of the canopy were going up before our eyes, the local kids started to arrive. We let them loose spraying the roof panels with some fresh paints provided by BAM, which resulted in the addition of a velociraptor and a butterfly to the vibrant range of patterns already on show. Wrapping up the day at 4.30pm in our soggy work wear, we headed back to Edinburgh ready for a warm brew and an early night.

WEDNESDAY

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Credit: Civic Soup CIC

On Wednesday, we spent an intense day on site with a dynamic group of volunteers. The team from BAM construction set up their mobile scaffold and climbed onto the roof, where they started affixing some PVC panels beautifully decorated by the kids from BSAP. Meanwhile, some of the group focused on plastering the inside of the building. On the outside, we made progress on cutting and attaching battens to the sides of the building. Later in the day, we were able to attach some plywood panels onto the battens, starting to weatherproof the building.

THURSDAY

Working with a new team everyday was intense and challenging, demanding a certain time investment that allowed for people to gel. Thursday was a day that proved the importance of visual results and progress in order to motivate a group in collective action. Earlier in the week, the workshops mainly consisted of crafting and preparing individual components; often tedious. However, Thursday was a day of coming together to rapidly assemble and fix components and the roof became more colourful by the hour as the children’s graffitied panels were offered up to be fixed to counter battens. Logistical issues throughout were overcome by the hard work and will of a team of volunteers that wished to see their contributions made meaningful through the completion of varied goals and objectives. As a learning process for the Civic Soup team, it begs the question of how these moments of activity can be better spread throughout workshops. In future projects, how might they be used as a tool for bringing people together through shared experience, momentum and a willingness to give?

FRIDAY

There was a very positive atmosphere on site today. The weather had turned around, and despite it probably being the coldest day, it was very sunny throughout. For the first time the safety fence surrounding the construction site was taken down and Alan (playworker at BSAP) prepared a fire nearby. Marshmallows were handed out and we had a place to warm up. This led to a more fluid workflow, greater integration of the kids that were now gathering on the site and an appreciation of the space as a whole. However, it also meant more supervision and responsibility, as all the tools were now exposed and potentially causing hazards. When the last panel went on there was a lot of pride and relief. Even though there was still a day’s worth of work to do, it was great to see the Wikihouse so close to finish, looking very similar to the design plan on paper.

Overall this entire week has taught us an invaluable amount of new skills. It has helped us as a team to draw closer, whilst making new friends and connecting to a great community.

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Credit: Civic Soup CIC

Laura Haylock, Billy Morgan, Cameron Bray, Calum Rennie, Silvan Gottschall