Development and evaluation of the use of screen casts as a supplement to Computer Aided Design teaching in Fashion and Textiles

University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Student magazine article.


Project Holders: Carolyn Hardaker and Gina Rushin
Institution: De Montfort University – Faculty of Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles

1. About the project

Could you briefly outline your project’s aims?

The teaching of Computer Aided Design (CAD) is well established within the School of Fashion and Textiles at De Montfort University.  Dedicated CAD classes feature in all years of the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, where a range of software is taught with a subject-specific focus.  

This project aims to develop a series of screen casts to demonstrate key software techniques to supplement current CAD teaching methods and provide an archive of screen cast material on a virtual learning environment (VLE) for students to access outside of class time. 

The screen casts being developed, are based on the contextualised use of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, key applications within the Fashion and Textiles industries and are intended to supplement the level 1 curricula for BA (Hons) programmes in Fashion Design, Contour Fashion, Textile Design and Fashion Fabrics and Accessories. The following topics are to be covered:  the use of Adobe Illustrator to create a technical drawing of a garment; the use of Adobe Photoshop to develop a montage image, colour palette and textile designs. These resources will be used by a cohort of approximately 180 students per year. 

An important aspect of the project is to evaluate the efficacy of the resource. Two questionnaires are to be used. The first was completed at the start of the academic year. This entry questionnaire performed a skills audit, where students are asked to assess their own abilities in Photoshop and Illustrator and attitudes to the use of video tutorials as a learning tool. A further questionnaire will be completed at the end of the 12 week CAD teaching block, after students have had the opportunity to use the screen casts. This will allow students to assess again their attitudes to the use of the resource and aims to draw out feedback on specific aspects relating to their design. 

2. Project progress

What would you say has been the key success of the project?

Initial development of the screen casts using the internet based ScreenR application has proved to be successful. ScreenR enables a short recording of a screen demonstration with audio to be made and saved as an .mp4 which can be uploaded to a server and accessed by students via a VLE. The process is simple and requires no financial outlay, other than an inexpensive clip on microphone. The recordings have a maximum length of five minutes and, with no editing features, the material for the screen cast has to be delivered in one take.  Screen casts can be recorded and then uploaded immediately for students to use. 

Have there been any unexpected benefits as the project progressed, could you give some details?

The potential for using screen casts to supplement CAD teaching across all years of the undergraduate programmes is huge. Already the screen casts developed have been made available to students in years 2 and 3, to act as revision material. Further there is great potential to develop screen casts to cover the diversity of specialist applications used within the school, providing students with a valuable resource for self-directed study. 

Could you give details of any unexpected hurdles you encountered during the course of the project?

The main hurdle in this project is finding a quiet space within the University to record the screen casts. A busy academic office, with the phone ringing is not a suitable recording studio. This means that time to record screen casts does need to be planned into a weekly schedule, along with finding a suitably quiet space to work, where there are going to be no interruptions.  Further it has been found that the size of the monitor display used for recording also needs to be considered. If it is larger or has a different aspect ratio to the monitor that the screen cast is going to be viewed on, the quality of the recorded video on screen can be blurred. 

A small pilot study found that it is essential to promote the screen casts to students during class time. It was found that running a key screen cast for that session at the close of the class was a good way of promoting their use during the week.  

3. Impact on teaching and learning

How do you believe the project has impacted on your teaching?

An analysis of the entry questionnaire was conducted, it is apparent that no matter what the skill level in Photoshop or Illustrator students felt they had, most students agreed or strongly agreed that learning through the use of video tutorials was both helpful and enjoyable. Formal teaching also scored very highly irrespective of abilities levels. Learning using a textbook or handouts was not rated as highly. This result was a surprise and further reinforces the development of screen casts as a useful learning resource, shifting the emphasis away from writing handouts.  

How do you believe future students may benefit from the project outcomes?

Having the screen casts available on the VLE to supplement the taught CAD sessions will help to provide extra support for future students outside of class time. This may become particularly relevant if there is an increase in part-time students as a result of the new fee arrangements being introduced in 2012.  

What would you consider were the potential wider community benefits from your project?

Traditionally producing video based learning resources is seen as time consuming, requiring software to edit and refine the recorded material. Early indications from the method adopted here suggest that this low budget and time efficient approach provides a favourable return on student satisfaction: a model that is highly transferable to other disciplines and the wider teaching community. 

4. Collaborative aspects of the project

How have students responded to the project?

Only the findings from a small pilot study completed early this year can be reported. In this study a small number of screen casts were made available on the VLE to cover some of the Contour Fashion and Fashion Design CAD curricula. Students responded very positively to the resource and informal feedback suggested that further screen casts covering more of the curricula would be beneficial. The main study starts in January with approximately 190 first year students. 

Have other members of staff been asked, or offered, to cooperate as the project progressed?  

This project was presented to at a School of Fashion and Textile’ s staff development event on Technology Enhanced learning in April 2011. Here a number of projects were presented with a technology-enhanced theme, including the use of audio feedback using mp3 files and the use of screen casts. Workshops were run to show staff how to develop a screen cast and mp3 feedback. These sessions created a good level of interest in the project and an awareness of how the technology can be used with relative ease. 

How do you see other staff and students in the department potentially benefitting from the project outcomes?

Following the main study in January, the project holders aim to present their findings to the School, along with a series of workshops to provide practical advice for staff on developing their own screen cast material.  It is hoped to encourage the use of screen casts within the School and provide further academic support for students on the VLE.

How do you envisage the wider subject community may potentially benefit from the project?

A paper based on this project is to be submitted for the ALT-C conference in Manchester, September 2012. Here a full discussion of the project as well as an analysis of student feedback will be presented.

Contact Information

Carolyn Hardaker, Associate Head of Department

Gina Rushin, Senior Lecturer

back to Art Design Media Learning and Teaching Projects 2011-12



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