Thursday, February 26, 2009

CAA 2009 Session, Web 2.0 and Art History

The panel promised to be for those interested in Pedagogy and Technology, and upon reflection, I guess that is at face value what was delivered. I can't hide my disappointment that I was ready to hear fresh ideas, not reports of the trial and error variety. I confess that my expectations may have been set rather high knowing that smARThistory founders, Beth Harris and Steven Zucker, were on the docket. I am an unabashed fan of their site. I am inspired by their approach sharing conversations around works of art with the widest possible audience. It is a model that stood out clearly from the others.

Their presentation, unfortunately constrained by an overstuffed six-paper-panel, was limited to a quick overview of the development of the project. It was surely useful for those unfamiliar with the site, and I saw admiring heads nodding around the room of around 75 arts educators. But I was a bit frustrated not to pursue some of the particular pedagogical challenges that they face, like exactly why is the survey textbook not being read, and why is smARThistory a better road to travel. Sadly, the question and answer session featured misdirected queries like: "how do you stop plagiarism" and "what is a blog anyway?"

All in all, the presentation by the folks at smARThistory seemed to be the only one that really offered fresh thinking. Their focus on object-based analysis might just be what other members of the panel could introduce as a model in their own courses to better engage students with objects beyond wikis and the like.