One Thought from Thursday

THURSDAY

Mercifully, and especially after our group dinner tonight, we have a short assignment tonght. What is my one thought from today? In our discussion about pedagogy and digital means this afternoon, some of the comments at my table–about student preparedness for college-level work, teacher-student engagement, effective methods of education–concern the state of higher education today in the U.S. Larger than the question of Digital Humanities are issues of class size, equitable allotment of resources campus-wide, goals of the art history survey class, and the quality of K-12 education.

During the last two years college freshmen and sophomores spent their entire public school careers under the “no child left behind” parameters. These students may be skilled at taking objective tests, but they are not well versed in the critical skills of analysis and expository writing which art history classes usually require. It is not really possible to remedy some of these deficiencies in one or two art history classes, especially considering the content-heavy nature of the survey classes. I do not wish to be pessimistic, but I am not really sure if Digital Humanities can remedy the situation.

However, in my survey classes I have transformed to active teaching and “flipping the classroom” techniques. Some Digital Humanities that I have used include:

  • excerpts from iTunes University lectures (Yale and Open University primarily) and TED talks
  • student critiques of MyArtsLab (online component of Stokstad and Cothren’s Art History text book)
  • annotated PowerPoints for class to watch/read before class in order to free up time for class discussion and team projects
  • student projects involving creating new components for MyArtsLab
  • team projects involving creating an iBook exhibit catalog (for an upper level class)
  • team projects involving Zotero anotated bibliographies (for an upper level class)
  • watching cartoons in class; I love cartoons! it is astounding that students pay attention to these but usually will text or snooze during films; subjects range from early animation, i.e. Gertie the Dinosaur and other Winsor McCay cartoons (coincides with comix and graphic novels); World War II propaganda cartoons (Walt Disney, Warner Brothers) and films (major Hollywood studios and directors) and German counterparts; current genre of graphic novel/memoirs transformed to cartoons (Persepolis, The Rabbi’s Cat)

And, Animoto offers endless possibilities for student productions and to create and post online capsules of history.

Students also enjoy this, Mason Williams’ Classical Gas from the Smothers Brothers Show, a (highly selective) survey of art in three minutes: http://vimeo.com/612081

 

 

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