Upcycling – it is what we do

Take something old: laboratory glassware in this case. Make something new: vases, oil bottles. We were told no food use. Laboratory glass. Who knows what’s been in it. Sara gave us pens. Special pens. I nicked the olive oil idea from Richard and gave it my own twist.

A festival and community of learning project event, the upcycling workshop engaged maybe 20 people: 25 or 30 if you count presenters, planners, friends and colleagues. Punters, you might say. Some people had an idea. They had come past the stall at Freshers Fair. I am still looking for the website. Maybe it is like one of those ARG Induction games like Nicola Whitton was playing with a few years ago. Or a “festival” like the raves and free parties that put Manchester so firmly on the student map; but, you had to be places to get the messages about exactly which field and when. Marc introduced the event by saying this was off the curriculum. Not part of any module. Learning purely for the sake of learning. There was a little piece or resources: facts about waste and recycling (that bit could do better) but were light touch, gently done. When we got going the music was turned up and the repetitive task of drawing little leaves became meditative. Sara suggested an intention towards mindful practice. Intentionally calming the mind.

There is more method in the madness, however. Because as well as upcycling there is a scratch music workshop using upcycled musical instruments. Which will be recorded as a part of another project on location recording. Then video. Then 3D VR on a projected proscenium within which people work in a pop-up space: teaching theatre, seminar room. One day a lab? Heck. it is a lab now.

Catch the festival and community of learning project at Oxford Brookes.

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About the author

George Roberts

George has been at Oxford Brookes since 2000 and joined OCSLD in June 2006 as an Educational Developer (e-Learning). In his previous role he advised the Head of e-Learning and the Senior Management Team of the University on policy for off-campus e-learning and e-learning partnerships.

He leads the MA Education (Higher Education) and teaches on the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PCTHE) as well as conducting Course Design Intensives (CDIs) and other educational development activities: workshops and consultancies.

He leads the organisation of the annual Brookes Learning and Teaching Conference (BLTC) and is Managing Editor of the Higher Education Journal of Learning and Teaching.

George is a visiting Lecturer at Cranfield University and a Visiting Fellow of Edge Hill University.

He wrote his doctorate (July 2011) at the University of Southampton on biographical narratives of adult users of a community IT centre on a large social housing estate.

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