We are both researchers in a traditional sense and also design and art practitioners. We work in an environment where our students make things as well as study theory. Our hypotheses surround our experiences, both as academic 'makers' and through our observations in the classroom. Our position is, that if practice and theory are integrated and embedded within art and design educational experience, meaning is brought to theory and thoughtful positioning to practice. There is a wide range of literature on the theory/practice relationship within art school environments. We draw on this material but in many ways diverge from it as we consider the impacts of students' experiences and knowledges from outside the institutional environment as equal to those they experience within it. This paper suggests that an examination of the wider contexts and cultures within which students operate can lead us towards a consideration of relationships of theory and practice within the classroom environment as a media ecology.