Digital Dance Archives (DDA) Survey Report

This survey report complements the Rapid Analysis Report with details of all the survey responses.

DDA Survey Report

The conclusions to be drawn are that we all like and want to use digital resources in our work but sometimes they are not the most relevant or easy to use. Moreover, it is inconclusive as to what enhanced features will be of most benefit other than most are seen as useful or essential. However, the two reports have valuable qualitative and quantitative data that gives a useful overview of how people are using these resources, especially Siobhan Davies RePlay, even though the detail of exactly what people are doing may be sketchy.

Project update

Since the last blog update the project has moved into a phase of tutorial support with students now developing solo and site specific work as part of their core module studies. The process of developing their dance module pieces is expected therefore to be documented and reflected upon regularly through their online PDP blogs.

The first tutorial session (29/11/10) following the skills sessions showed that the group were at a similar stage of progress and understanding, all had blogs (created during the second technical skills session) and had demonstrated at least some published media documentation. An observation at this point was that the students seemed to feel the emphasis on their blog creation was very much in adding multi-media content (images, video, sketches) and as a result had neglected to add a representative proportion of written reflection alongside the media evidence. This resulted perhaps due to the emphasis the project placed on bringing the media skill levels of the group to a common level at an early stage before focussing on the process of pdp development and critical reflection itself. It is probably also indicative of the groups lack of experience in engaging with their own creativity in a reflective and critical manner and stepping away from the relative security of purely descriptive text as first year students. Feedback from this session to all students was to increase the volume and regularity of reflective writing on the blog in relation to the media content, to try to add reflective comments every time a piece of media content is added, and to explain the development progress that has occurred between blog posts.

The wednesday afternoon open studio sessions appear to have been a useful aide to the students with most now having booked time slots and used the equipment, space and staff resource to develop their work. Students have been encouraged to connect to each others blogs (via invite) in order to view their peers work, give constructive feedback via commenting and provide initial support for one another before approaching teaching staff. In practice the 30min individual studio allocations are insufficient for students to gain much practical development progress (although more useful for tutor contact time), as a result, group bookings (3 students) of 1.5hrs have been more commonly adopted and have eased the use of limited shared equipment and the documenting of solo pieces. The equipment itself has performed well, the Flip cameras have a 2hr recording limit but generally run out of power within 1-2hrs so rechargeable AA batteries have been required as a backup. Organizing the efficient uploading of content is also an ongoing process with many students still choosing to upload images directly to their blog space rather than to an image hosting site like Flikr as advised. There are also some issues regarding the immediate uploading of video content to Youtube after studio sessions due to the length of time required to upload the duration of footage produced. Both of these issues are resolvable, in the first instance students have again been advised to store images on separate hosting sites as their allocated blog space will eventually run out as more image files are added. Regarding video documentation we have advised students to go back to the Jerwood Bank blogs and Siobhan Davies RePlay to observe how professional dancers in this instance have used video as a part of their documentation and development process by capturing very small key fragments of movement. If the students begin to use the video in this way rather than conceiving of the video document as a fixed, final and privileged artifact that demonstrates the totality of their work rather than the fragments of its construction then they will simultaneously find that demonstrating their development and reflect upon it will be a potentially easier task, and they will avoid the technical issues associated with the uploading of longer HD video files.

Project Board Meeting

The agenda for the Project Board Meeting will be posted early next week.

Library Session, 11/11/10

Sarah Whatley and David Bennett led a session with the students to acquaint them with Siobhan Davies RePlay; a series of search tasks were developed so that students could become familiar with the range of content available and some of the functionality of the site, especially the scrapbook function.

The session took place in a group study room in the university library, equipped with 12 PCs – the group was split in half, 15 students per group, so some students had to pair-up, and each session was 90 mins.

A worksheet was created with some general remarks about what an archive is and how one should engage with it, together with a search task. Six tasks were distributed among the group, one task each, with a seventh task given to all students to be completed in their own time. Students were asked to bring personal ear-phones so the audio from the archive would not spill across the group.

The worksheets have been aggregated here D-TRACES Library session

Observing the students during the sessions and from the discussion after the tasks completed it was interesting to see how engaged they were with watching video content, one student noting ‘…not enough time to watch video all the way through’. The general comments included: the tasks were easy and straightforward; content was interesting (‘…flyers from so long ago’, interview(s) about Davies’ process); there was surprise ‘…at the range of stuff to keep’, e.g. sound scores, costume; and students found it useful as a model for documenting.

Hopefully, as the project progresses and the students engage further with their own process we will be able to evaluate the student experience with the archive more, and maybe find out what makes them ‘click or stick’. This will be useful feedback to inform the DDA project.