Reaching the ‘Pinnacle of Convergence’: Defining the Model of Teaching in the Centre for New Media Arts, Australian National University


A curriculum ideology that is often held in the arts, is that art is not driven by commercial demands or direction and, therefore, our curriculum need not address partnerships and linkage to industry in respect to real work experiences. In the Centre for New Media Arts (CNMA), Australian National University (ANU), you could argue that we exist as a hybrid of art, having evolved from the Schools of Music and Art, into a Centre for the Arts and Technology, fifteen years ago.

We now find ourselves at the pinnacle of convergence, the blurring of specialist interest boundaries and practice with ‘new’ academic subjects emerging with titles such as Cinemedia, Anthropology and New Media, Digital Humanities, New Media Percussion, Design Arts, Shakespeare and New Media, etc. This spectacular growth now provides CNMA with a perfect opportunity to examine our pedagogy and explore our common beliefs, values and ideologies in New Media Arts.

At undergraduate teaching we face students of diverse focus, variable knowledge, learning capabilities and commitments, and who each have individual direction and career aspirations. The students are in themselves coping with the balance of specialist subjects and array of exciting electives to study. Any principles and values attached to the curriculum ideology of a pure arts focus in CNMA is now challenged as our education environment evolves and students are socially and economic alert to future directions and fashionable trends. As Toohey (1999) comments:

  The concept of tertiary education as preparation for employment has become so dominant
  that the idea that graduates might question the ways in which work is organised and distributed
  in society seems unpatriotic. We see the effect of these beliefs in the higher education curriculum,
  as degree programs in humanities and fine arts are redesigned in order to offer students
  preparation for a career in government service or arts administration.

This paper is concerned with two themes: 1) how we provide our students with real world experiences and opportunities in the context of

  preserving popular beliefs and values in research led education, and

2) a reflection of new media arts curriculum explaining the Centre of New Media Arts, ANU, nurturing

  profile, steering students through an interdisciplinary matrix of knowledge and creative production.

Toohey S (1999) Designing Courses for Higher Education (Buckingham: Open University Press) ch.3 p. 45.

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Eleanor is Head of the Centre for New Media Arts at the Australian National University. Under her direction the Centre has experienced major expansion and incorporated her unique vision of new media and a cross-disciplinary approach. During this time, she has also undertaken roles including: Convenor Postgraduate Studies CNMA (ANU); Deputy Chair Megalo Print Workshop; ACAT Consultant National Museum of Australia – Skylounge; Advisor ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies; Government Arts Advisor ACT – New Media; Printmaker in Residence at Megalo Print Workshop; Researcher at Edith Cowan University, and Producer of CNMA events at the National Museum of Australia. Prior to her appointment as Head of the Centre for New Media Arts, Eleanor was Head of Design at Hull School of Art & Design, University of Lincoln UK.

Eleanor is a prolific artist, having received numerous awards, grants, and commissions in her career. She is a regular contributor to numerous professional associations, having published since 1985 and presented papers at conferences in the UK, Taiwan and Australia.