Inquiry-Based Teaching Using the World Wide Web

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The World Wide Web is a vast, image-rich, and essentially free educational resource that offers exciting opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning in art. Businesses, government and nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, schools, special interest groups, and individuals have their own home pages or web sites. Cultural institutions from around the world have been posting information and educational materials on the Internet. This article offers suggestions for how teachers in their classrooms might use a set of resources found on the World Wide Web.

THE WORLD WIDE WEB

The World Wide Web is the portion of the Internet that includes pictures as well as text and provides the ability to link information on one computer with relevant information on another computer anywhere in the world. At its most basic level, the Internet is a network of computers that are connected to one another (much like telephones are) and thus able to "talk" or share data with one another. Eventually scientists devised an easier way to link information that resided on different computers on the Internet and developed a method of transmitting images, and even sound and video, along with text These advances led to the creation of the World Wide Web, "the scenic route" of the Internet. Software known as web browsers makes accessing information on the Web as easy as pointing an arrow and clicking a mouse. Many web browsers are available, including Netscape Navigator, Mosaic, and browsers provided by America Online, Compuserve, Microsoft, and Prodigy.

The World Wide Web consists of web sites, computers on the Internet on which someone has placed information for others to access. Web sites can be modest, comprising a single home page, serving as a kind of "electronic billboard." Sites can also be large, with one home page that acts somewhat as a title page and table of contents of a book and contains many different links to other "pages." Each of these pages is actually a file which contains information and hyperlinks to other web pages within the site or to other sites. Hyperlinks are words or phrases that, when clicked, take the user to a related page; they are embedded footnotes. Web pages often include graphics, such as photographs, drawings, and other images, and may also incorporate audio and video clips.

Because of the ability to combine text and images on web sites, many artoriented sites have appeared on the Web. Hundreds of museums have produced web sites which feature online exhibitions of their collections or traveling exhibitions. For example, the web site of the University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA, provides online tours of exhibitions, even after the actual shows have moved to other museums (address for websites are listed at the end of this article). The web site of the Detroit Institute of Arts features artworks from the museum's Ancient, Oceanic, African, Asian, American Art, and other collections, organized into "virtual galleries." The web site of the National Museum of American Art extensively incorporates images, allowing a visitor to the site to view artworks from exhibitions and search for artworks from the museum's permanent collection. Many international art museums and contemporary art galleries have web sites, such as the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya, Japan, and the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. There is also a web site known as the Diego Rivera Virtual Museum containing images of the artist's paintings and murals. The web site of New York's Dia Center for the Arts includes works by contemporary artists as well as projects created specifically for the web.

Schools have web sites and many feature student artworks. For example, students at Desert View High School in Tucson, Arizona, have created a web site which describes a school mural project The web site of FayettevilleManlius School District in Manlius, New York, features online displays of students' artworks. …