Digital technologies are transforming the way audiences engage in arts and culture, prompting artists and arts organisations to rapidly adapt their creative practices. With so much change in the air, how can arts practitioners make the most of new approaches enabled by this digital transformation? 

This was the challenge faced by Australia Council for the Arts, who engaged PLUS UTS (the University’s Enterprise Learning arm) to develop Digital Transformation for the Creative Industries, a 6-week online short course aimed at individuals working in the arts and cultural sector. The brief for the course was to address a gap in knowledge about digital transformations shaping the arts landscape and to provide artists and others working in the industry with practical tools to better navigate and adapt to digital transformation. 

To make this happen, the Postgraduate Learning Design Team collaborated with FASS academic Sunil Badami alongside guest experts from across faculty and industry to unpack some of the most cutting-edge approaches to digital practice in the arts sector today. By combining authentic video case studies alongside hands-on activities, this course has seen continued success and is now on its fourth delivery in less than twelve months. 

Learning from the experts: artist case studies

To give participants an authentic look into how digital transformation is shaping the creative industries, the learning design team drew on Australia Council for the Arts’ extensive network of established and emerging artists for a suite of video interviews. Artists from a range of creative backgrounds – visual arts, performing arts, literature and emerging media, to name a few – shared their perspective on module topics including emerging technologies, online audience engagement and digital leadership. These expert practitioners included Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Lynette Walworth, internationally renowned media artist Shaun Gladwell, and Caroline Spence, Executive Director of Sydney Dance Company

To further enrich these case studies, UTS academics from FASS, DAB, FEIT and Business were also invited to share current research on the convergence of art, technology and social change. Through online discussions participants compared and synthesised insights from both artist and academic perspectives, culminating in a reflection on the interconnections between these ideas and their own personal creative practice. 

Equipping learners with practical tools

After engaging with these case studies, participants needed to put these insights into practice. In consultation with UTS academic experts, the learning design team designed a series of hands-on practical exercises around core elements of digital transformation. Online activities which aim to prepare participants for their own digital transformation include mapping the user journey of their digital audience, drafting a digital business model canvas, and even experimenting in emerging technologies such as AI art.

The result has been a rich and engaging course drawing out the best elements of active and authentic learning. In feedback surveys, many participants have said they look forward to returning to the well-curated collection of resources in the future, a response that points to the ongoing benefits of the course for participants embarking on their own personal digital transformation journey. 

An exemplar user journey map developed specifically for an asynchronous online activity in this course.

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