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Friday, October 15, 2010

Divergent Teaching: Art History

Traditionally, I have taught my Art History class from the front of the room. I have projected my PowerPoint presentation on the topic of the day, interjecting a few cute comments between images on slides while the students took notes. Sometimes I would even include a related video or short animation to mix things up. Still, it has been an “I teach, they learn” method.

With the ability of so many of my students to access the Internet from their mobile devices, I am considering a new approach. Instead of a pre constructed PowerPoint presentation, I will project a Ning website onto the screen. Each student will be a member of this Ning, and will have the ability to post and respond to forums as well as post photos and videos. Students will be grouped into small teams where they will have access to the Internet through their mobile devices. There may be several students working in a team with only one device.

As the class facilitator, I will provide a first round topic that each team will research. For example, let’s say the topic is prehistoric art. Each team will search the web for information related to prehistoric art and post information that they feel is both relevant and interesting to the Ning.

As facilitator I will review the information posted to the Ning with the class. Based on this review, I will create a list of second round topics that I will then assign to the teams.

For example, say the first round generated the following discussions: Cave paintings, Venus of Willendorf, and the Nazca lines. I might then assign the following topics: How are cave paintings similar to the street art of today, is Venus of Willendorf the oldest artwork, and Etch-a-Sketch artists.

This give and take between student, facilitator and Ning could continue for several rounds, allowing for a much deeper and richer exploration of the topic than my original Powerpoint lecture method could have ever produced.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Your teaching of Art History was very successful, enjoyable, and impacting when our daughters took it - one 3 years ago and the other last year. However you did it was good - both retaining their interest during class and having the info soak in. Both daughters have had your Art History class and have referenced the class and what they learned about art styles, time periods, personal likes and dislikes, during several family discussions.

  3. Wow! This is impressive! I'd love to hear how it turns out!

  4. Do you have to pay to use the ning? Do you send home permission slips to parents to allow their students to use them?


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