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Photography and digital assessment – a wider picture thumb

Photography and digital assessment – a wider picture

“As a consequence of the Coronavirus outbreak, OCA have implemented a digital only assessment model. While the need to make these changes are based on keeping students, tutors, and postal workers safe, they are also underpinned by existing longer term plans to make assessment more transparent and an integrated and meaningful part of your overall learning experience.”

In recent weeks, several photography students have contacted tutors voicing fears about digital assessment plans, worried that photographic prints might be a thing of the past. 

Far from it, even with a fully digital assessment, we advise you to print work, test its display, make objects and books, handle work, engage with scale, texture, sites of display. We encourage you to explore creative ways to document the physicality of work in order to present this digitally and online. 

To support you with this, we are sharing student and tutor guidance and examples via #WeAreOCA posts tagged Digital assessment. There are already some brilliant ideas here and we will continue adding to this.

What if … I can’t go outside to photograph by Andrea Norrington

Experimenting with Physical Formats and Tactile Processes to Demonstrate Critical Thinking by Rachel Smith

Discussing and Sharing the Tactile Qualities of Work by Rebecca Fairley

Student Work: video-documentary of site-based work by Bryn Davies

“In this new age of the digital, does print still matter?

Yes. Print matters. Digital outlets have become an invaluable complement to what we do best, which is provide a platform and context for an artist’s work. But the photobook will continue to evolve as a permanent means of binding together words and images with ink on paper; books will continue to nurture and sustain us during difficult times.”

—Lesley A. Martin (April 2020). Aperture Creative Director and Publisher of The PhotoBook Review*

A wider picture

Photography students at OCA are constantly testing the boundaries of image-making, audience and encounters with work. Posting work to a tutor or assessor is one way to share and get feedback and so is testing the work in the wider world. Outside of a lockdown situation, our students test photographic work in community settings, exhibitions, live events, studio visits, interventions and learning visits. These feedback opportunities can all be evaluated, documented, and shared online. Assessors can then look at how well students have considered the testing of physical encounters with work.

A Mosaic of Time & Light, OCA student Bryn Davies, 2020

“I was left pondering the question – how can I translate my publication ideas into a digital-only format?” Bryn Davies.

The shift to digital assessment prises open not only questions of physicality and material engagement, but also developments in assessment for higher education. Keeping with the spirit of learning from the current crisis, and building on OCA’s unique lead role in creative arts distance learning, there is great opportunity here for students and tutors to build on assessment for learning.

Professional photographers and artists increasingly need to share the physical qualities of their work – online. These are important skills to develop, and by learning how to document your work digitally for assessment, you are developing this ability, and can learn how best to do it from one assessment event to the next. I don’t yet know how digital assessment for OCA and photography will pan out longer term, but I do see benefits to learning from the current situation.

Whether work is posted to a tutor, to assessors in Barnsley or viewed on a screen, photographic prints and physicality still matter greatly. In the meantime, we have put a digital assessment process and extra guidance in place which ensures no student will be penalised because of Covid-19.

Featured image: Bike Rack, OCA student Bryn Davies, 2020

*Received via email on 17/04/20. Thanks to Amano Tracey for sharing this.

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Posted by author: Dan Robinson
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