The OSS User Manual

By Randall Packer

The OSS User Manual is based on teaching and software development at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design & Media in Singapore during the second semester 2013-2014. This tutorial has been specifically designed as a primer for students and faculty in the ADM community to use Open Source Studio techniques intended for online research, creative activity, learning, and teaching. This is not an exhaustive tutorial, rather, it has been created specifically for active educators and students to quickly and easily acquire fundamental concepts and technical skills for understanding the Open Source Studio approach to networked practices. The OSS User Manual also provides resources for further study, so that those interested in the full potential of the network as a medium for artistic work, research, and educational use can pursue their own distinct path.

The OSS User Manual has been organized into two parts:

I – The Virtual Classroom in Adobe Connect: the first section is concerned with synchronous media. More specifically, Adobe Connect as a web-conferencing tool for hosting a live seminar in a virtual classroom environment which includes an instructor, students, and guest speakers participating via their cameras and microphones. The live experience of the virtual classroom is intended for remote teaching, or for “on-ground” classes in which remote guest speakers are brought in to present their work. This section of the OSS User Manual goes well beyond the technical requirements of web-conferencing, covering creative strategies for conducting a virtual classroom that brings a quality of engagement and interactive learning to arts education.

II – The Virtual Studio in WordPress: the second section outlines the asynchronous virtual studio space constructed in the content management system, WordPress. The virtual studio is conceived as a working space for students to conduct research, document their work, carry out critical writing, and create online projects. The OSS WordPress multi-site environment is a highly collaborative space, essentially a networked suite of studios in which each student has their own unique Website. The OSS User Manual covers the entire process of writing and other creative activity in WordPress, as well as essential strategies for using the WordPress database as a catalyst for artistic work, research, and study. There are also suggestions for instructors in the use of WordPress to effectively organize and access student work, and to engage students in the workflow process and documentation of their work in highly creative ways.