Inventively Linking: Teaching and Learning with Computer Hypertext

By Taylor, Pamela G.; Carpenter, B. Stephen, II | Art Education, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Inventively Linking: Teaching and Learning with Computer Hypertext


Taylor, Pamela G., Carpenter, B. Stephen, II, Art Education


One of the most relevant considerations in education and art education today is how the use of computer technology affects teaching and learning. More specifically, art educators are becoming more concerned with how the use of computer technology informs our own educational practices (Dunn, 1996; Gregory, 1996; Heise & Grandgennett, 1996; Prater, 2001; Taylor, 1999; Wilson, 1998). In this article, we discuss the ways that interactive computer technology, specifically hypertext, facilitates an intertextual approach to the practice of creating and teaching thematic units of instruction in K-12 art classrooms.

Intertextuality

Intertextuality1 refers to the discovery and creation of new ideas that are made through examining relationships. An authentic intertextual "reading" may serve to deepen and more profoundly influence a learning experience. Wilson (1994), referring to Rorty (1979), reminds us that such an approach to the creation and interpretation of a work of art as text should occur with the hope that it will help students to want something different-that it will help them to change their purposes and thus change their lives.

Taking an intertextual approach to the study of art may be disconcerting to many whose experiences are based on linear, organized, and hierarchical exactitudes. Vast connections and considerations can be confusing to say the least. What is needed, however, is more than just a tool or instrument to organize this intertextual approach. What we need is an apparatus that provokes and promotes intertextual thinking.

Hypertext

The term hypertext2 is used to describe any computer program or application that involves linking and connecting. The World Wide Web (WWW) on the Internet is composed of documents that have been written in a hypertext markup language (html) that defines everything from links to type style and size. Basic hypertext applications such as the software "Hypermedia" and "Hypercard" allow the writer to create a series of linked cards that the reader accesses by clicking on certain "hot buttons." "Powerpoint" presentations are hypertextual as are "Inspiration" concept web models. "Storyspace" is a computer application that involves the use of boxes, called writing spaces or lexia that contain information and other boxes of information that may include written text, images, sound, and video. These boxes and/or key words, phrases, images, or parts of images may be linked to form associative and connective paths throughout the web. Unlike the WWW and "Hypercard," "Storyspace" provides three possible overviews of a constructed web. These three overviews are the chart view, the outline view, and the "Storyspace" view, which consists of a graphic representation of writing spaces as boxes and links as arrows. Through each of these views, both reader and writer can see, access, and comment directly on any or all parts of the constructed web. In other words, the reader is not blindly following links as on WWW pages and buttons on "Hypercard" files.

"Storyspace" readers see and access links in whatever order they choose as well as create their own paths and add information throughout the web. In doing so, readers change the structure of the original web, making it more than it was before they encountered it. In other words, new ideas may be discovered or even provoked through this hypertextual process of inventively linking resulting in an authentic intertextual reading.

Inter/hypertextual Units of Instruction

Communal unit. "Sharing a Place Called Home" is a unit of instruction for elementary school students created by art education university majors with the hypertext computer software "Storyspace." The unit overview space features the title of the unit, a brief description of the objectives, and a list of lesson titles or questions such as "What constitutes a home? Who lives there? Who doesn't? Is a house always a home? What is homelessness? …

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