Kadenze: Learning About or Learning by Doing?

Kadenze is an online learning platform “developed to benefit students and faculty members of the creative arts“.

A preliminary analysis of the course syllabus for “Introduction to Generative Arts and Computational Creativity“, suggests that learning is framed by structures of learning about, rather than learning through doing or performance, as there is no indication of how Kadenze itself can be used to evince learning by Doing it With Others (DIWO).


There is mention of the course providing “an in-depth introduction and overview of the history and practice of generative arts.”

It “offers an ontology of the various degrees of interactivity and generativity found in current art practices”, and “surveys the current production in the field of generative art across creative practices”, to “introduce the various algorithmic approaches, software, and hardware tools being used in the field”, and finally address “relevant philosophical and societal debates issues associated with the field”.


Projects 60%

Quizzes 30%

Assignments 10%

Quizzes suggest that learning is framed by the acquisition metaphor, where Kadenze’s primary function appears to be facilitating content transmission by the “course instructor” (didactically “instructing” learners, rather than dialogically and reflexively guiding, facilitating and discussing), who aims to test learners’ recall ability of delivered syllabus content.

As if learning in the creative arts can be engendered mechanically transmitted or digitally transferred and hence acquired by learners via the metaphorical Nurnberg funnel, illustrated below.


Delivered content does not engender learning, just as learning about swimming differs from learning swimming. Learning Generative Arts and Computational Creativity by doing, requires learners to generate art and compute creatively, through Kadenze, as the the mediating technology or online medium.

Like OSS, the Kadenze course designer could go beyond learning by doing, by facilitating learning by Doing It With Others (DIWO) as a Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) technology.

The Course Designer’s Philosophy of Human Learning

It is abundantly clear that like OSS, Kandenze has the potential for CSCL-facilitated learning by DIWO, but this technological affordance, cannot be fully exploited, if the course designer stubbornly clings onto Cartesian and empiricist epistemologies of learning that are oriented towards outcomes (rather than process) and advocate instructing, training and conditioning, for knowledge acquisition, retention and recall (rather than learning by doing).

It is thus imperative that course designers reframe their notions of learning, in order for the full range of potentialities afforded by technologies such as OSS and Kadenze, to be more widely accepted and realized.

Observations: Adobe Connect Session 1, September 10

Descriptive Notes (followed by reflective notes)

  1. 4 out of 6 learners were eating and drinking on camera. Chewing was amplified online. L1e only started eating after seeing the rest eating online. L1e did not eat onsite in previous weeks. (Computer mediation appears to lower inhibition to engage in extra-curricular activities)
  2. Learner 5b (L5b)—dressed in a high contrast black and white striped long sleeve blouse—participated in Adobe Connect sessions in the previous semester, and slouched against her chair (appears the most relaxed, possibly because of her prior knowledge and experience with web conferencing with the tutor)
  3. The 6 learners demonstrated an internal script that required them to click on a new tab, to play video prescribed by tutor. (When the first video was launched by tutor, I was waiting for the video to pop up on my screen, and was unaware that it was already open in another tab. Only after some time, did I realize that I had to play it. This is unlike onsite learning, where the tutor controls the video and plays and stops it. One advantage is that the learner can continue playing the video, even when the tutor assumes learners have completed viewing the video, and continues with the lesson)
  4. L4j suggested that learners “try it out”, by attempting to kiss telematically. L4j aborted the attempt to “kiss” L5b. (Computer mediation paradoxically inhibits and disinhibits experimentation)
  5. The chat and private chat features were used throughout the session. (Social aspect of CSCL was amplified with banter that would have been impossible onsite, but continued unabated throughout the session. This playfulness and directness in peer to peer communication facilitates questioning by reticent learners, and peer to peer exchange and clarification without any need for intervention by the tutor, who permitted the boisterous discourse.)
  6. Learners are positioned on screen, according to the order in which they share their webcams. Learners pointed at one another on multiple occasions with a grin, when tutor asked who read what. (Learners never pointed at one other onsite, where they remained in the same seats throughout all 4 weeks. Learners’ position onscreen changes every session, and even during the session, every time they turn off the camera and rejoin the session. The ability to stare directly at learners’ faces is new. It would be impossible for learners to see all faces (including their own) simultaneously onsite. Facial expressions and movements are amplified onscreen. L2a noticed L3p eating a second sandwich—something she did not notice the previous week, when they were seated side by side onsite. What was invisible, is now visible to learners and tutor, with computer mediation. Implications on the affective dimensions of teaching and learning are profound.)

OSS: Facilitating the Sharing of Failures & Successes

Failed research studies that have found blind alleys account for only 14% of published papers, according to this article by The Economist.

In the teaching and learning of visual representation and expression, knowing what has failed, is just as important as knowing what has succeeded, because without access to these unsuccessful attempts, we inadvertently waste limited resources exploring these same blind alleys already explored by other artists.

It is imperative that I explore how OSS provides teachers and learners with access to a repository of successes and failures in curriculum planning, curriculum enactment, and evaluation, as teachers and learners work on their individual and group projects.

How does this openness afforded by OSS and vulnerability online bear on teaching and learning? Do learners and teachers self-censor their work, and manufacture identities that differ markedly from their onsite or online behaviour? Will the openness make learners and teachers more of less inhibited? Will they be more guarded, or more impulsive in their discourse? Does this openness facilitate collaborative learning?