1 Are you mad v2Two readers have posted responses to blogs (my posts from 2013 and more recently) so I’d like to thank them for taking the time to reply and post here my replies to them.

Links to my original blogs:



FIRST COMMENT (responding to April 2013 post)

The first comment was posted at the end of April 2014 in response to a post about the digital upload that I made in April 2013

Nigel writes

Digital upload assessment is only advantageous on the grounds of cost, nothing else. Would the supporters of the new assessment process also recommend that Tate Modern, MOMA, The Louvre etc closed their doors to the visitor and only served a diet of 72dpi digital images? Is the suggestion really that the same experience can be had remotely on a screen as can be had marveling at the texture, depth, vibrancy, and sheer sumptuousness of being at close contact with the physical manifestation of creative thought? Perhaps it is worth considering the values of the IB learner profile and just wondering if the new assessment process negates the ability to fully engage in many of these ideals”.

2 Speak clearlyThanks Nigel and of course you are right about experiencing ‘real’ artwork. But I don’t think anybody at the IB – or anywhere else for that matter – is suggesting that the best way to experience most artworks is to view them on a monitor!

Indeed, as I pointed out in my 2013 post, “arriving at a school and experiencing the physical reality of artworks in an exhibition context and talking to the student (invariably eager to explain their experiences of the creative process) was a wonderful experience. I miss the face-to-face contact, and the reality of artwork that I could touch or walk around” – so yes, absolutely, to appreciate texture, depth etc there is no replacement for the real thing. That’s why it’s so important that art teachers continue to support and encourage the annual DP art show so that audiences can see the work of our students.

But – as I also wrote –for the first time moderation is now based on exactly what the examiner has seen. The decision to move to the digital upload was based on a number of factors, with the desire for a greater degree of consistency and reliability in assessment high on the list. Moderation is an integral part of examination assessment and previously this part of the assessment process was somewhat flawed.

The point of the exhibition in terms of assessment is not necessarily related to the event as a celebration of two years’ creative work: assessment in art is a necessary evil, and in terms of moderation  the digital upload is advantageous in particular because of this greater consistency and reliability. The digital upload makes the assessment process (more) fair because it allows for accurate moderation. This was not the case when the examiner used to visit a series of schools.

Clearly it’s not perfect, and now relies a lot more on teachers/students making files that accurately represent studio and investigation (the photographs etc that used to appear in the Candidate Record Booklet) but – in terms of an approach that is balanced, knowledgeable, thoughtful, principled, reflective and caring – the Learner Profile seems to be very well represented (but I appreciate of course that you may not agree).

Simply put, although the ‘visiting examiner’ was a much loved process,  it was not necessarily the best – or most reliable – way of assessing student artwork.

3 finishedA recent blog for students also looks at the importance of the Learner Profile

SECOND COMMENT (responding to February 2014 post)

In February I posted some suggestions to students of how to help their teachers by organizing files etc for the digital upload (taking good quality photographs etc) and/or preparing either a 1000 word commentary or thinking about the video presentation (etc)

This time the comment (from Andrew) was not related to my suggestions to students. It was about a reference to teachers who had not assembled files for the upload and/or did not understand basic things like reducing a file size. I wrote:

I have to say, from my experience as an examiner this time last year, quite a few teachers were not very well prepared.

Some left it all to the last minute; some had a minimal understanding of the technological issues involved. For example, not knowing how to compress a file etc – some teachers compressed the files so enthusiastically I was left trying make sense of an insanely tiny image (e.g. a 4KB very pixelated thumbnail image).

Andrew felt that I had been a little dismissive of hard working art teachers and DP Coordinators struggling to cope with the upload process.

This is an incorrect interpretation of what I wrote: I made no mention of hard-working teachers and DPCs.

I was just stating facts – quite a few art teachers were not well prepared for the digital upload. I know teachers who freely admitted that they were not prepared!

(It takes a lot of organization in the months before you even get to upload time, so I do sympathise with busy teachers who found it hard to organize the files etc needed).

And I will be the first to agree that the digital upload process is not as good as it could or indeed should be.

I have already blogged about this so don’t feel the need to go into it again.

But I would like to clarify: I was intending to motivate students into helping their teachers, and only referring in passing to those teachers who were not ready/prepared for the upload. The exasperating thing is that even if you are ready with all your folders of files, it’s not a guarantee of a trouble-free IBIS experience, and even if it does go relatively smoothly it will still probably be a long and time-consuming process (as I have already stated).

The visual arts digital upload is a long way from being perfect and the blog post in February was primarily addressed to students with suggestions about how they might help their teachers.

It’s all a bit academic now but I thought I’d clarify what seems to have caused some confusion!