Abstract3D animation is taking an ever increasing role in the development of the media and digital artefacts that children consume. This demands that children are equipped with the tools, skills and critical faculties to be able to create what they consume. Focusing on 3D animation as a means to be digitally creative, this thesis explores the formal learning pathways available through the school system in England, and the knowledge domains behind 3D animation, including research on computational thinking and multimodality. The goal was to understand the role of 3D animation in supporting the development of digital creativity. Three research questions were formulated: 1. What characterises the opportunities for learning 3D animation in the formal curriculum? 2. What are the affordances of 3D digital animation work for young people? 3. What possible connections are there between computational thinking and multimodality in the production of 3D digital animation?
For research question 1, the national pupil database and open access government data were used to examine student choice of GCSE for computer science and media studies, as well as the attainment of students on these courses, considering the role of ethnicity, gender and poverty indicators. For research questions 2 and 3, students that participated in a 3D animation summer camp were interviewed about the reasons behind their subject choices and learning journeys in the camp.
Results showed gender disparity in GCSEs and that opportunities for children to learn computing and media studies in formal settings have decreased substantially since 2013, with gender and socio-economic divides emerging. As digital media takes a tighter grip of everyday lived reality, formal pathways for digital creativity amongst young people appear to be narrowing. Additionally, it was found that young 3D animators had strong support networks. Financial support was necessary in many cases. The factors that impacted student choices of film signifiers involved a mix of hardware limitations interacting with software, time allowed for the work, skill levels of peers, and the often tacit expectations of the camp itself. The research showed that the affordances of 3D animation work for young people are highly dependent on their social circumstances, the limitations of the discourse inherent to curricula, the limitations of the software and those of the hardware used. It also showed that computational thinking concepts such as automation, abstraction and decomposition were seen to heavily influence components of multimodality theory.
In conclusion, this thesis highlights concerns about the development of digital and media literacy through formal education, by providing the first major study of a 3D animation camp and demonstrating the importance of software and hardware in semiotic decision making. It argues that media concepts should be present in computing, and computing concepts present in media studies. This research is important because it informs curriculum changes and raises questions about the democratisation of digital media.
|Date of Award||22 Apr 2020|
|Supervisor||Debbie Epstein (Director of Studies) & Billy Wong (Co-Supervisor)|
- Digital Art
- 3D animation
- Media Studies
- Computer Science