Magazine article School Arts

ArtSite: Sharing Art and Ideas

Magazine article School Arts

ArtSite: Sharing Art and Ideas

Article excerpt

Years of teaching art led me to wonder how I could enhance learning through a simple computer program that both teachers and students could use to encourage creative discovery and, at the same time, build a knowledge base of art from all over the world. I envisioned even a single classroom computer becoming an exciting resource through which teachers and students could access art from numerous museums and also the art and writing of their peers--a program that could grow and change as years pass.

The Internet offers a wealth of art images. Think back just a few years. Unless you were able to travel extensively, it would have been difficult to view multiple works by an artist who interested you, since they would be widely dispersed.

Planning ArtSite

My plan was to create an intranet program, which could be customized for any teaching environment. I wanted to design a program that made extensive use of low-cost Internet resources. The software would give teachers and students the ability to easily access, select, and organize images and descriptions from museum or gallery websites. They could build their own art collections emphasizing their choice of subjects, styles, cultures, and historical interests. Students could contribute to a group portfolio displaying their own art and writing. All pages could be easily searched, saved, and printed for sharing and grading.

When I began my work, choosing the navigational topics was easy. The "Museum" section would be for teachers to select and display art and descriptions they have found on museum websites or written themselves. Each Museum page would include a group of project suggestions to encourage self-guided learning related to the image and description shown. In the "Studio" section students could add their own art and writing for display in the "Portfolio" section. A key concern was to provide a password-protected "Teachers Resource" section where teachers could customize program content as well as manage student records. The whole project would be called "ArtSite," a word many European art websites use instead of "website."

Providing useful program content and designing a simple and functional interface were important. To start off, the program would be loaded with images and descriptions from a number of Internet museum websites in ten collection categories: American Painting before 1945, European Painting before 1900, Works on Paper, Modern Sculpture and Design, Modern Painting, Photography, Egyptian Art, Greek and Roman Art, Asian Art, and Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. The art had to provide a rich learning environment so that students of varied cultural backgrounds would be motivated to contribute their own selections and research.

Making ArtSite Work

The backbone of ArtSite is a database-driven website. …

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