Effective Artsbox

Liz Gardener is an Arts Award adviser for Staffordshire Libraries, one of our Good Practice Centres 2015-2016. In her guest blog, Liz tells us about her experience of Artsbox and offers guidance for anybody thinking of creating online portfolios.

Effective Artsbox

Well that’s another successful moderation done! And this time around my work with young people on Arts Award Bronze has delivered some interesting learning for me around using the Artsbox website and app.

This website is not allowed!

Getting permission from schools for pupils to be able to access the Artsbox website was a challenge. Despite having permission from parents / carers for its use, school Internet Safety Policy and firewall settings often barred the way. Discussing the schools’ position on accessing Artsbox in school at the project planning stage, as well as finding out what device or access issues the young people might have at home is something I will definitely do in the future to avoid potential difficulties.

One solution was getting Artsbox added to the schools’ approved website list. If accessing Artsbox at school is a definite ‘no, no’ though it is best to know at the outset so that the use of the website is excluded or treated as an add-on by individual young people rather than being an integral part of collating evidence.

Really App-y

One of the strengths of the Arts Award provision I deliver is that it allows plenty of use of arts_badges_handsmedia – ideal as a way to engage and motivate young people who struggle with literacy and give them room to shine. However, an increasingly large number of the young people I work with are ‘smart phone savvy’ but have poor IT skills when using PCs. The arrival of the Artsbox app last year was, therefore, something that I welcomed as an accessibility improvement.

There had been a few negative reviews online about the app concerning connectivity problems and, being in a rural county which does not have fantastic internet coverage to begin with, the thought of encouraging its use was balanced against the trouble-shooting that might be involved! But the potential benefits outweighed those concerns.

I embraced the App this time around and my young people have loved it. The ‘point, shoot, upload’ immediacy and marginal IT knowledge required have proved accessible to everyone. My young people have excitedly fed back that they have captured far more evidence through the app than they might otherwise have done without it.

Its’ use can also overcome the challenges of school access to the Artsbox website and, thankfully, the one and only connectivity issue we had was the result of trying to upload a video from the top of Mount Snowdon!

The Blair Witch effectsmartphone-1031273_1920

Blurry videos, out of focus photographs, muffled audio or extreme background noise…Whether simple error or attempts at being ‘arty’ such things rarely prove useful as evidence for Arts Award.

Independent working is great and something I want to foster in young people I work with, but having that conversation about the quality of what gets uploaded to Artsbox and reviewing the content regularly is essential. Equally ‘It’s on Artsbox’ may seem to provide the tick in the box but making sure that each young person labels each piece of evidence and indicates which part of their Arts Award it links to so that both Adviser and Moderator can find it is essential.

I also found it useful this time around to get the young person to type up a contents list for their Artsbox. This provides an opportunity for final reflection about whether the evidence available actually does the job it needs to do and also gives the moderator an overview of what is on the site before they get stuck in!

Advisers interested in using Artsbox can register at www.artsbox.co.uk

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