Since Curriculum 2000 was introduced, level 3 (ASA2) art and design students have received 75 per cent of their grades from the research and development of their assignments, and 25 per cent for any outcome produced.
This has led to a significant increase in the use of the internet as a source by all students.
During research for Bristol University Research Design Network, I found that a small core of students now use only the internet when producing coursework for GCE and foundation studies in art and design.
It is often easier now for students to gain information by computer than via other means. A new type of candidate is emerging - one who supplies only website addresses in bibliographies and references. It now seems possible to achieve a pass at level 3 through this means, as candidates have to produce written contextual studies of at least 1,000 words. Most refer to the internet in broader referencing.
Alarming as this reliance on the internet seems, there is relevance and purpose in art and design for some candidates bypassing traditional sources, such as books and periodicals, in favour of their virtual counterparts. The web is easy to access. It has contemporary information - for example, downloadable images of artists and photographers that are not available through any other source except gallery catalogues. And it is free and immediate - a candidate can go from a lecture and have visual reference material within half an hour. The web is a primary research arena for students of graphics and photography. For them, websites offer a range of literature and technical information as well as being worthy of aesthetic consideration.
Among the the top five sites cited by students was Adidas, following closely behind Google, the Tate and the Design Museum. "Purchase" sites such as Adidas offer far more in visual terms to candidates than do "information" sites, because they are multi-layered, with set objectives to display the archive or collection.
Purists might be alarmed that a shoe and sportswear manufacturer is providing educational sustenance for art and design candidates. But it is the design element of the site, rather than its content, that has excited many students, its user-friendly access and front-end graphics being rated as among the best.
Candidates made use of a huge range of materials - from www.churches.com to animal welfare resources (eg www.
animalactivist.com and www.bornfree. com, from games and Japanese cartoons to sites of environmental interest and charities. One site sampled by many students was that of the children's charity Barnardo's and its Silver Spoons campaign (see www.barnardos.org.uk), featuring research into images and their impact and allowing the link between image and charitable donations to be traced.
The most popular sites are those containing catalogues and archives of images - the most cited was Google.
Peter Day is a lecturer in further education at Bristol University
3. www.designmuseum. org.uk 4. www.adidas.com
My personal favourites would be:
* www.tropisms.org - explores the relatively new phenomena of blogging or video diary on the web. It's quirky and run by young people.
* www.designmuseum.org.uk - I think the use of downloads is the natural progression for educational material and the Design Museum has some excellent ones, if a little limited in number.
* www.gettyimages.com - not completed yet, but will become a vast archive of images, combining the Hulton and Time Life picture libraries.
* www.billviola.com - the best artist's site I came across.
* www.benetton.com - Jhas a photo and video archive of its campaigns