From Wanda Sullivan

Interesting teaching frame: from Wanda Sullivan, an Art History professor at Spring Hill College, whose name is not provided in the citation at the end, very adaptable for lit and gen ed classes:

“I teach Contemporary Art History online. The majority of the students are not art majors, so I do not have a captive audience. As a newcomer to online teaching, my biggest challenge is engaging the students online. How can I, in this type of environment, get “civilians” to appreciate contemporary art and surmount the mainstream idea that it is pretentious and only for the elite? During each week of the course, I introduce that week’s topic: a PowerPoint comprising images, a discussion thread, and my “Art of the Week” choice. I strive, as we say in the art world, for unity with variety.

First, I try to make it personal. I ask for an “art biography” from each student to break the ice, requesting them to describe their current level of art knowledge and tell me about their favorite type of art. I also tell them to be brutally honest, so I can get a feel for my audience. This is my way of connecting with each student individually, something that comes easily for me in a face-­ to-­ face class, but not always online.

Second, I employ humor as my secret weapon. “Now That’s Weird!,” “Now You Made Me Mad,” and “That’s Not a Rectangle!” are examples of some of my weekly topics. Besides drawing the students into a subject that they may find strange and unusual, humor keeps me engaged and entertained as well.

Third, I give weekly assignments, in an attempt to spark the students’ interest and exploit their need for variety. I give these creative titles to make it fun, including “Art in the Wild,” “I Hate It!,” and “Mainstream Art.” I frame these assignments like online scavenger hunts. The students are enthusiastic about this aspect of the class, and several even mention it in their evaluations. I vary the pa­ram­e­ters to create enough variety to keep them interested. Some weeks they can find material online, but at other times they have to go out into the community to fulfill the assignment. They post their images and respond to their classmates’ images. It makes for some lively threads.”

Source: Major, C. H. A Hopkins Series on Education and Technology : Teaching Online : A Guide to Theory, Research, and Practice. Baltimore, US: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015 with some edits by this course’s instructor

(Found on the FB group, Teaching in the Time of Corona: Resources)

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