Wednesday, 26 November 2008

new media writing MA to end?

I heard today the shocking news that De Montfort University will be closing the Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media which I've just completed. The course, devised and led by Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger, trailblazers both, has been quite literally life changing for me, and pretty damn influential in newmediawritingland. How shortsighted of DMU.



'The Spindlers'- some freshfaced students from the first intake for the Creative Writing & New Media Masters, 2006.

23 comments:

Bridget McKenzie said...

I was only just promoting that MA to a friend. It's sad news. Does DMU have plans for alternative courses? Are there similar courses elsewhere?

Chris Meade said...

No they don't, I fear, and it was pretty unique. Will post info if I hear of anything comparable.

joanna howard said...

It's certainly a sad thing. I can remember years ago when another quite different course was closed, someone said "You can tell when you're going something new and right because someone will stop you."

Tia said...

I'd just like to point out that the degree is still alive and kicking in the form of its current students, who will be graduating in 2009 and 2010, so two years yet remain for the Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media to influence creativity and education on the web. Two years is a long time in cyberspace. In that time, if DMU doesn't wake up to the opportunities and responsibilities that follow from its launching of the programme, other institutions will take the lead in providing access to the hugely relevant skill set that it offers, and will rake in the rewards.

crissxross said...

Yes, it's a terrible shame the course will be closing. I graduated recently and, like Chris, I found it life changing too. Under the circumstances, I now feel very lucky that I was able to grasp the opportunity it offered while it was available. I'm looking forward to seeing what the current students produce over the next two years. Lots of stimulating new work to come, I'm sure.

Rosie said...

Whilst I can understand that in this economic climate it is very difficult to take risks, this course is an innovation.Innovation costs money, but innovation puts places on the map.

If DMU don't want to run with this, I hope someone will.

New Media isn't going to go away. In fact, it may even be driven by this global recession. Businesses are going to need to use everything available to them to keep their competitive edge and to get noticed. More and more businesses will be turning to New Media for this.

Carolyn said...

While everyone is feeling the pinch, a decision as short-sighted as this is hard to comprehend. It's a landmark program whose effects are already being felt. As far as programs go, i'm sure the overhead is pretty low on this one. Reconsider DMU. When times are tight, it takes truly innovative programs like this to help maintain profile. A university is only as
good as its alumni, and so far the participants in this program are among the best.
Carolyn Guertin

paul_brown said...

I am very concerned that the MA Creative Writing and New Media run by Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger is being closed down by the De Montfort University in Leicester, UK. This is a unique programme and one of only a few worldwide that address the future of literature and writing in the networked age and it is run by two internationally recognised authorities in the field.

As chair of the Computer Arts Society I know this institution made a pioneering contribution to the computer arts in the early years and it is to be regretted that the university can now consider closing a leading-edge programme that builds on such a pre-eminent history. It is my opinion that they should instead be promoting the MA as a flagship opportunity to consolidate DMU's reputation in an field that addresses important and timely scholarly, social and economic issues regarding our future in a networked world.

rmalina said...

This is surprising news at a time when universities world wide are investing in a wide variety of new programs that chart out new scholarship and training needed in the new writing technologies.These programs not only respond to student interest, but also establish cross disciplinary programs needed to broach the kinds of new problems that are faced.

What are the official reasons for the closure of the program ? How many students have now matriculated to date and what kind of careers are they now embarked on ?

Roger Malina
President Leonardo/OLATS

Dene Grigar said...

It is generally unheard of for a major university to begin a graduate program of any sort, see it grow into a successful endeavor, and then drop the program shortly after. It is also unusual for a major university to recruit big names like Sue’s and Kate’s to build such a program . . . only to drop it . . .

As an administrator of a digital media program I understand the costs of running programs. So, if the university is eliminating this MA purely for economic reasons, this decision makes no sense: It is an *online* graduate program with a potential for immense growth. I know for a fact that the costs of operating online masters programs is low in comparison with running a traditional brick and mortar one.

While the logic behind the decision is perplexing, the ethical issue is what concerns me most. Eliminating a graduate program jeopardizes the future well being of its former and current graduates. Yes, the university is allowing students the opportunity to finish the degree, but in the end students are paying good money for a degree that will no longer exist at DMU. This means that students will not have the support needed for success: no academic structure to point to when applying to a PhD program or seeking a position with an employer, no alumni network to draw upon, and no faculty to consult or collaborate with. The degree will ultimately be worthless.

The uniqueness of this MA and the international reputations of its faculty have brought DMU much positive attention worldwide. I cannot imagine what kind of attention closing it down so soon after starting it will ultimately bring. The response thus far does not bode well for the university.

Howard said...

Wait! This makes NO sense. As I understand it, DMU has been making some really well thought-out moves to bring the university and Leicester into the 21st century. I've been a guest in this course on more than one occasion via online participation -- something students ought to be learning today -- and saw worlds open up to them. Isn't that what a university is for? Something strange about this. I fear DMU will regreat this.

Peter Howard said...

I'm teaching an epoetry module on this course next semester. It's a pity it looks like I'll only be able to teach it once :-(

It's a great shame this course is closing.

ccragg123 said...

Potty, downright potty. Just shows the parlous state that Britain now finds itself in. The economic situation is just a pisspoor excuse here for an abject failure in marketing of the course on behalf of the university.

Did they do any at all, one wonders?

The course and Sue and Kate are known as WorldWide Authorities on this subject, for goodness sake!!

An academic institution such as DMU is supposed to be in the vanguard of forward inspirational thinking. I genuinely believed this to be the case. Obviously I am wrong about DMU.

Clearly, the CWNM course is rather only the result of Prof Sue Thomas's and Kate Pullinger's prescience and assiduous hard work and it is accidental that DMU has been the fortunate recipient housing it.

Now they appear to be 'pulling the plug' after 2010, I have no doubt whatsoever that another institution - be it in Singapore, in Shanghai, in Seoul or in Bangalore - will jump on it, swooping Sue and Kate up much to the delight of all future students who will jump on it. I would say in the US too but given that they started this 'sub prime' alphabet soup economic mess, they are of course in as much of a mess there as we are.

The online component of the course is tried and true and the content, as I can attest as a student myself, is excellent and unparalleled.

DMU you are, as they say, showing your knickers.

Too bad. Another institution will, I know, be only too glad to fill in for your massive error of judgement.

Best,
Claudia

Sukai said...

I still find it difficult to believe that DMU will cancel a course that very few universities are offering at the Master's degree level. It has the potential to develop into a well subscribed one. It is a shame that all the hard work and innovation that has been put into it by the academic staff is being negated by DMU. I hope that there will be a turnaround before mid 2010.

Mary King/Writer & Photographer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

I am very sad to hear the news. I just hope that Sue and Kate get to continue with their own projects. Of course, you guys might want to think of going freelance with your course and set up your own school in SL -- or you could turn it into an open source MA, perhaps in the same vein as those offered by MIT. I think something bigger and better can come from this yet.
http://robotandai.blogspot.com

su said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I work in a call center. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I work in a call center. said...

I was among the first three to graduate from the course and to me it seems a bit hasty to cancel it.
Things will pick up economically.
I thought that courses like this, that attract a lot of foreign students, must be money-spinners.

sondheim said...

The sad thing for me, about all of this, is that there is a very real cultural revolution underway, partly ideological/political, partly technological, but definitely an extraordinarily deep sea-change - from the canons of classical and well-defined literature and discipline (in both senses of the word - power engenders it) - to an electronic communality with radically new ways of thinking - if not new forms (and possibly so many forms that one might think of formlessness or non-form or something to the effect that 'form' no londer rides on the back of tradition). Almost nothing reflects this in the university system - sure, there are new media courses coming out of art/theory areas, but very little from within literature itself, and this MA, not to mention trAce in the past, has been far-sighted and pioneering. I'd beg the university to reconsider, but given the current world economy, I doubt they'd listen. It's upsetting and depressing; I wish something could be done about it. - Alan Sondheim

Alan Bigelow said...

I have been an online lecturer in this program, and also a full-time faculty member at a college in the United States, so I can sympathize and relate to what is happening at DMU.

This program in New Media Writing, as many people can attest, is extraordinary and prescient in its view of New Media and the important part it will play not just in the creative arts, but in how information is packaged and communicated in business models. The skill sets of students emerging from this program are almost universal in their application, and excellent preparation for multiple career possibilities including, but not limited to, education, publishing, advertising, internet-based companies, arts administration, social networking systems, and so on.

So why do Universities like DMU (and my college, for example) cancel such programs? The easy answer is they believe that short-term savings in a period of tight budgets is a safer move than investing money, even small amounts, in "non-proven" programs like this one. There are other factors involved in decisions like this—personnel considerations, academic turf wars, curricular overlaps—but ultimately, as many of us know, money is the bottom line. Unfortunately, this philosophy does not support innovative programs and long-term curricular growth.

An axiom of the stock market is buy low, sell high. DMU is selling low here, when a small investment could pay off handsomely in the near future.

Christy Dena said...

Damn it, I missed putting a message here sooner.

This is very sad news. The selection of speakers and mentors for the course is the best I’ve seen for such an innovative creative writing course.

The international, remote online teaching model Sue and Kate had developed is exactly what universities need to be doing right now, for economic and quality reasons. Their approach was elegant and highly appropriate to the subject manner.

This is such a shame. I guess De Montfort University didn’t realize the significance and impact of the program.

I am proud that I had the opportunity to be a part of the course as a presenter and mentor. The students, Sue and Kate were all a delight to work with. I certainly will keep referring to the pedagogical model, outcomes and innovative spirit of the course.

Kate said...

I hope that the administration reconsiders. This is a tremendous program that is widely recognized as playing an important role in the field of digital literature. If it closes, the field - and the university - will be poorer for it.

Kate Armstrong
writer, artist, independent curator
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada