CAA 2016 Recap: New Online Pedagogies for Art History

Forum Discussion: Rethinking Online Pedagogies for Art History

College Art Association Annual Conference, February 6, 2016, Washington D.C.

Chairs: Anne L. McClanan, Portland State University; Virginia G. Hall, Johns Hopkins University

The preliminary material from the participants looked terrific, so we were particularly delighted to see the conference room fill and remain that way for the entire session. The panel was organized as a series of short, focused case studies intended to provide usable takeaways for art history faculty interested in broadening their skillset of online pedagogical tools. All of the tools and/or teaching strategies discussed in the panel are specifically online resources, but many can be incorporated into face-to-face art history courses as well. Our PowerPoint presentations are linked to the titles with the panelist permission.

The Language of Art History: Building Students’ Fluency through Digital Tools, Alicia Walker, Bryn Mawr College

Prof Walker explored Voicethread and Classroomsalon, showing increases in students’ fluency in key art historical terms as well as improvements in class participation. Both the number of students participating and the quality of classroom exchanges rose as a result of using these tools. She also offered some practical advice, such as giving careful consideration to which courses warrant developing these supplemental tools—they were quite time intensive to set up and so best suited for frequently offered classes.

Closing the Loop with, Virginia B. Spivey; Parme P. Giuntini, Otis College of Art and Design

Dr Spivey highlighted several of the most important features of the Art History Teaching Resources website, and Prof Giuntini then outlined best practices for assessment both on the course and programmatic level. The AHTR site’s scope is already extensive, with sample syllabuses and other resources, but AHTR is also launching an e-journal in Fall 2016 that will further expand its role in the field.

Collaborative Learning within the LMS, Thomas Harbison, Sotheby’s Institute of Art

Harbison introduced how to use peer review within a generic online course.

Flip the Flip: Student Authored Lecture Replacement for Online, Hybrid and Traditional Classrooms, Walter J. Meyer, Santa Monica College

Prof. Meyer described several overarching principles before delving into the details of his case study. Electracy, defined by Gregory Ulmer as being “to digital media what literacy is to print,” can be taught by focusing on student-crafted deliverables, putting students in the role of the teacher. In this case, the groups of students made lectures posted to YouTube, and the details of the assignment are shared in Meyer’s PowerPoint.

Going Medieval: An On-site Seminar’s Experiential Approach to Website Design, Kathryn Starkey, Stanford University

This presentation offered an inspiring instance of how online tools can effectively enhance student learning in a face-to-face course. During an intensive international summer program in Germany, the students researched and wrote an online guide to the historic monuments of the city where they were based. Several noteworthy observations that could apply to many of the tools discussed in our panel include: the importance of having a “Plan B” (their planned app proved infeasible), surprises with the constituency of the class (thought it would be humanities students, but was primarily STEM majors), and the ways this site gave the students an important sense of agency and accomplishment in their work.

Electronic Portfolio Projects in the Art History Survey, Shalon D. Parker, Gonzaga University

Prof Parker explored how to use the ePortfolio strategically within the introductory survey for art history, in which the students were called upon to create themed itineraries. She also very generously shared her assignment, which serves as a skillful model in a number of ways of how to organize this kind of project.

Teaching Art History Online with Omeka and Neatline, Nicole Riesenberger

This presentation demonstrated engaging ways to use Omeka and Neatline within an art history course. These tools worked in concert to give students a deeper understanding of the spatial relationships of the material studied, the model given was a Fifteenth-Century Italian Renaissance Art course. Nicole Riesenberger also has compiled with colleagues a very useful guide to best practices in Omeka.

Concluding Remarks, Marian Feldman, Johns Hopkins University

Prof Feldman allowed us to step back, observing that while the joint presentation by Giuntini and Spivey concerned a resource for instructors, the others were geared towards the student users. In the later cohort, some of the tools sought to augment longstanding classroom practices whereas others mapped out new areas. One way the prior models now have new life in the digital sphere is the emergence of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and using OpenStx, Feldman has begun to assemble an OER Ancient Near Eastern Art textbook in a series of self-standing modules on topics such as cylinder seals.