Blogs Field Guide ArtsConnectEd

Asking Art: Global Change

Every four years, the September energy of a new school year coincides with political intensity leading up to national elections. Influenced by this moment and last night’s opening of The Living Years, we’re drumming up conversation about art and global change. Educators—we’re inviting you to share your insights into this topic by mining ArtsConnectEd. Through […]

Every four years, the September energy of a new school year coincides with political intensity leading up to national elections. Influenced by this moment and last night’s opening of The Living Years, we’re drumming up conversation about art and global change. Educators—we’re inviting you to share your insights into this topic by mining ArtsConnectEd.

Through the month of September, educators participating in Asking Art (details here) will receive one complimentary gallery pass for two adults. To participate, begin at ArtsConnectEd’s Art Finder. Ponder these questions from any angle—economic, political, environmental, societal, informational, technological, etc.:

When you think of global change, what artwork comes to mind?

How are artists making art that investigates our complex world and offers ways to reflect on globalism?

We believe that exercises such as this “asking art” prompt can help us as educators teach a generation of informed global citizens. Educators, join us in this conversational exploration.

ArtsConnectEd + iPads = win-win for teachers

It was a win-win situation for Therese Cacek, the winner of the first ArtsConnectEd iPad Challenge. She had been trying to come up with a lesson that would inspire her 6th grade art students at Holdingford Elementary, a little less than 2-hour’s drive northeast of Minneapolis, to use the ArtsConnectEd website as part of an […]

It was a win-win situation for Therese Cacek, the winner of the first ArtsConnectEd iPad Challenge. She had been trying to come up with a lesson that would inspire her 6th grade art students at Holdingford Elementary, a little less than 2-hour’s drive northeast of Minneapolis, to use the ArtsConnectEd website as part of an assignment to learn to use Photoshop Elements.

“In past years I had taken the students to the ArtsConnectEd site and encouraged them to find an image that they could manipulate and then digitally put something about themselves into the artwork. One frustration was that the students did not seem to ‘look deeper’ into the website. … That’s when I saw the ‘iPad Challenge’ with the direction to create a set as an introduction to the museums. It was a perfect. It was exactly what I wanted the students to do—become familiar with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Walker Art Center as museums and then compare and make choices about the works. The creation of the art set worked as a perfect teaching tool to guide my students into deeper consideration of a choice for their digital manipulation project.”

The possibility of winning an iPad was interesting to Cacek as well because of her growing passion for bringing technology into her art classroom. She muses,

“Technology has added a whole new dimension to teaching in the art room. Like paint, clay or pastels, technology also offers another avenue of creative expression. Today students are less intimidated and more willing to experiment with computer software used to create and manipulate digital imagery. The emergence of YouTube brings a keen awareness to the need to teach and understand media’s power and influence. Technology is exciting. It challenges and is continually changing.”

You can view Therese’s winning Set “Minnesota Museums Tour” on ArtsConnectEd.

While you are at it, take a look at the honorable mention Set “Photograms: A Cameraless Image” by Edina High School photography teacher Kim Raskin.

With ArtsConnectEd, users can not only access over 20,000 works of art and resources from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker, they can use the materials they find to build customized Art Collector Sets, save them, and share their work with others. Building an Art Collector Set is fun, but it is also a perfect lesson planning tool for teachers. The iPad Challenges are incentives for teachers and other users to produce outstanding Sets and share them with all ArtsConnectEd users.

iPad Challenge #2!
The next round of the
ArtsConnectEd iPad Challenge is underway. Any K–12 teacher, active substitute teacher, home school educator, teaching artist, student teacher, and college education major is eligible to win an iPad. Just submit an original Art Collector Set that is relevant to a lesson plan by midnight January 7, 2011.

You could be the next ArtsConnectEd iPad Challenge winner!

ArtsConnectEd iPad Challenge #1 winners Therese Cacek (center) and Kim Raskin (right) with Susan Rotilie at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Educators’ Evening October 21, 2010.


Picture This: The ArtsConnectEd Workshop

If you had walked into the Walker Art Lab on the morning of the 11th of July, you would have been greeted by the sight of numerous ladies huddled over their laptops. No, they were not journalists. Neither were they extremely fashionable computer game beta-testers. They were, in fact, participants of the exciting two-day ArtsConnectEd […]

If you had walked into the Walker Art Lab on the morning of the 11th of July, you would have been greeted by the sight of numerous ladies huddled over their laptops. No, they were not journalists. Neither were they extremely fashionable computer game beta-testers. They were, in fact, participants of the exciting two-day ArtsConnectEd workshop, conducted by Susan Rotilie, Program Manager for School Programs at the Walker Art Center, and Christine McKigney, Coordinator of School Outreach Programs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

So the word “ArtsConnectEd” might not be familiar to some of you. To give you a good hint, here’s a question: what do you get when you mix a sleek presentation builder, gigantic artwork database and education community website into one?

ArtsConnectEd is the answer. Made nine years ago as a joint effort between the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art , it’s a handy, user-friendly web tool designed to help educators build their very own curriculum using the artwork of the two institutions. And we’re not talking about two dozen photos of paintings here. There are thousands of pieces available for your perusal – from sculptures to sound clips, from bite-sized videos to event descriptions. You don’t even have to register to browse. Simply click on ‘Art Finder’ and go wild. If the prospect of leafing through 21062 pages of artsy goodness threatens to overwhelm, just enter some search terms into the ‘keyword’ search bar to narrow the scope of results, or pick and choose a trait from the cloud of tags on the homepage.

Want to make your own slideshow? Interested in playing curator for the day? Then simply click on ‘Art Collector’, register and jump right into making an ‘Art Collector Set’. Adding your chosen pieces to the set is only a matter of pointing and clicking. If you think you’ve made a particularly noteworthy set, click the ‘share’ button and send it to anyone you please!

Sounds pretty fantastic, no? Well, the workshop participants certainly thought so. After being given a short and sweet tour of the website’s infrastructure, they couldn’t wait for a chance to try ArtsConnectEd themselves. And what a chance they got. At the sound of Susan and Christine clapping their hands, the room fell silent and all eyes wandered to the new words on the projector screen. ‘ Scavenger Hunt’ . We give you an image from the ArtsConnectEd database with no additional information, you play detective and find its title and artist using any of the ArtsConnectEd resources. To the amazement of all Walker and MIA staff present, people were finding them in a minute or less and then traipsing to the front of the room to collect their prizes. Sigh. And we were so hoping to keep all that chocolate for ourselves.

Since everyone had become so well-acquainted with ArtsConnectEd in such a short space of time, we decided to let them explore the tool for themselves and build their own Art Collector’s Sets.  The results were varied and nothing short of fascinating. One set described the numerous manifestations of shoes in the world of art, while another explored the possibilities of art as inspiration for creative writing. Not too bad at all for only a day’s work!

But that’s not all that took place. To give them some ideas on how to effectively use ArtsConnectEd in their teaching, the workshops participants were taken on engaging Visual Thinking Strategies tours at the MIA and tours about elements of contemporary art at the Walker. Armed with comfortable walking shoes and a keen sense of humor, two docents from each museum cruised the galleries with our lovely teachers, showing them how to apply said strategies to different kinds of art.

‘Hang on a minute. What on earth are Visual Thinking Strategies?’ you ask. They are, in short, educational methods that develop critical thinking through the consideration, discussion and analysis of images.

It occurred to me that the introduction to this concept was a particularly thoughtful addition to the workshop schedule. After all, instead of just showing educators a handy and versatile webtool, why not also suggest some pertinent ways with which to use it in the classroom? Using VTS with the resources of ArtsConnectEd opens up a world of possibilities. Through the implementation of these strategies, ArtsConnectEd becomes more than a way to look at our art collections, taking on a directly auxiliary role in the development of an important cognitive process.

All in all, the participants were mixed – experience with art education and web applications varied enormously. However, it was easy to see that everyone was unified in their desire to find new and exciting ideas to bring to their classrooms. And despite some nigh-bellicose encounters with technological hiccups, they definitely succeeded.

If you would like to know more about ArtsConnectEd from Susan Rotilie herself, go check out Show and Tell: The New ArtsConnectEd !

Developing Electronic Educational Content for Museums

In February 2010, the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts convened a one-day think tank of museum education technology professionals to discuss the practice of educational content development for technology applications.  Think tank participants represented a range of experience in developing and managing both museum and community generated educational content, primarily surrounding the […]

In February 2010, the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts convened a one-day think tank of museum education technology professionals to discuss the practice of educational content development for technology applications.  Think tank participants represented a range of experience in developing and managing both museum and community generated educational content, primarily surrounding the practice of art museum education.

Invited participants included:
Willamarie Moore – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Tina Olson – Portland Museum of Art
Tim Svenonious – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Marc Mayer – Art21

Local participants included:
Sarah Schultz – Walker Art Center
Susan Rotilie – Walker Art Center
Robin Dowden – Walker Art Center
Abbie Anderson – Walker Art Center
Sheila McGuire – Minneapolis Institute of Art
Treden Wagoner – Minneapolis Institute of Art
Kris Wetterlund – Sandbox Studios
Scott Sayre – Sandbox Studios

The following is the product of those discussions.  Think tank participants invite community comment, additions and refinements to these recommendations.

OBSERVATIONS: What’s different in developing educational content to be delivered via technology?
• Creator needs to understand the capabilities and limitations of the technology
• Creator needs to understand what is possible and what is not – controlling and expanding expectations
• Creator needs to select the most appropriate technology for the problem being addressed/content being presented
• Creator needs to understand the context(s) for use by the target audience
• The [changing] role of teacher as facilitator, mediator and catalyst
• Audiences ability to utilize and engage constantly varies by generation
• Information can be conveyed in multiple layers of non-linear, digestible chunks controlled by user interaction
• Content creation for technology applications allows for learning both by a specified path or serendipitously
• Informal connections and narratives can be dynamically generated through aggregation and query
• Flexibility of content can be thought of as being infinite
• Media-based storytelling can humanize content and make it more engaging
• Captured audio/video documentation to be delivered to a wide audience as a potential learning resource
• Platforms can be varied to adjust to learning style – read-it, watch-it, listen to-it, interact with-it
• Content and technology need to be addressed/attended to simultaneously

OBSERVATIONS: What does educational content via technology do well?
• Provides models that can be customized
• Provide a platform to illuminate and connect disparate teaching practices
• Sharing process, product and revision while integrating community feedback
• Breaking down physical and geographic barriers
• Providing dynamic and malleable content, not frozen as in print – nothing is ever “done”
• Providing an opportunity to blur between the “official” and unofficial – craft vs. capture, expert vs. amateur
• Involves a range of “people” as voices, characters, collaborators, contributors, evaluators
• Captures content (people, processes and events) with unscripted spontaneity
• A single product (e.g. a Web project like ArtsConnectEd’s Artist’s Toolkit), can support the learning styles and interests of multiple audiences
• Time is less of a barrier. When content creators are empowered to publish content directly to the Web they can serve audiences faster than other publishing models (see ArtsConnectEd and MFA Educators Online). The needs of audiences can be served shortly after those needs have been identified

OBSERVATIONS: What are some of the greatest challenges in working with educational technology?
• Hard to manage massive amounts of fragmented static content
• Greater distribution vs. loss of control
• Very difficult to classify and describe many multimedia programs because there are no widely shared definitions of modes of learning
• Generates new issues related use and reuse of resources
• Opens a much greater range of legal responsibilities
• No content is ever “set in stone”  and technology is ever-changing
• Sustainability of technological platforms, resources and hardware
• Persistence – users expectations that products will live on forever
• Engaging educators in iterative, technology-based work processes
• Content and technology need to be considered simultaneously during the development process
• User expectations that content creators use state-of-the-art, intuitive methods and technologies

RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Consider new models outside of your own discipline –  successful elements of reality television, and documentary film strategies that present multiple perspectives
• Provide context for how material is designed to be used (learning, audience, timeliness)
• Exploit the dynamic nature of electronic content to update, refine, improve and expand it over time
• Strengthen bonds and relationships that are made in person
• Pursue projects in time to capitalize on a passion or interest that addresses a real need or opportunity expressed by the visitor/user.
• Involvement of multiple stakeholders in the beginning – collaboration and buy-in from target audience
• Adopt more formal, professional work practices and protocols surrounding the development and support of technology-based products
• Museum educators need to create a stronger relationship with production of critical content
• Foster awareness for the resource(s) through marketing
• Incorporate end-user training on the related program and technology into a projects implementation plan
• Cultivate a community of learners
• Develop trust and respect for users as producers – foster and invest in crowd-sourcing
• Develop a soft criteria with guidelines and models for user created content
• Provide a context for the content being delivered
• Integration of other external supporting media – beyond your own, using any other tools/media the audience may have at their disposal
• Develop standards that better describe museum generated multi-media resources
• Design content to be sustainable and commit to maintenance with the needs of the end-user in mind
• Collaborate with internal and external partners and stakeholders
• Invest in technologies your institution can support, i.e. off-the-shelf or low-tech. Think of what you develop as an ongoing program not a one-time project, and build in ongoing resources (staff, money, support) accordingly

RECOMMENDATIONS: What roles can museums play in supporting the development of educational content?
• Adopt a broader definition of what our content is, embrace a more informal voice
• Recognize and value our role as a public content provider
• Provide a system for rapidly responding to opportunities to capture media (documentation)
• Develop standards for the craft of capturing content – interview processes, content and production standards
• Develop systems and processes for facilitating production, work flow, integration and access
• Develop technical knowledge within in-house staff to guide development, even if it is performed by external contractors
• Value the importance of collecting and archiving electronic media and documentation as much as accessioned items
• Build knowledge of best practices and uses of educational technology through staff, director, and board training

List compiled by Scott Sayre. The think tank outcomes were presented at the AAM 2010 Annual Meeting.

Hunters and Collectors: ArtsConnectEd

Online visitors, students, and educators get creative with a dynamic new ArtsConnectEd.org As back-to-school rituals go, logging on to new Web sites is today’s equivalent to that analog practice of signing out a heavy load of textbooks. This fall, K–12 students and their teachers across Minnesota will usher in the new year by exploring a […]

ArtsConnectEd Hunter

Online visitors, students, and educators get creative with a dynamic new ArtsConnectEd.org

As back-to-school rituals go, logging on to new Web sites is today’s equivalent to that analog practice of signing out a heavy load of textbooks. This fall, K–12 students and their teachers across Minnesota will usher in the new year by exploring a fully overhauled, freshly supercharged artsconnected.org—the product of a long-standing educational partnership between the Walker and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA).

When it originally launched in 1998, ArtsConnectEd’s function was to provide digital access to the collections at both institutions, mainly for people who couldn’t make the trip to the Twin Cities. Now, browsing more than 90,000 works of art, plus reading, watching, and listening to more than 1,000 art-related articles and video/audio records is just the beginning. The big change in the new version of ArtsConnectEd is the ease with which teachers and students at all grade levels can use this content to create presentations, quizzes, handouts, lesson plans, research, and curricula—and share these materials with each other. A host of examples is already available for use in the classroom, such as an “Animals in Art” presentation that includes an ancient Chinese bronze horse from the MIA and Franz Marc’s The Large Blue Horses, a highlight of the Walker collection; and “Building a Story,” which helps students create a fictional tale based on works of art. One lesson investigates different kinds of brushstrokes; another offers an “adventure” for younger students based around the color red. One teacher had his students use the site to create MySpace-style pages focused on photographers that interested them.

“It is much more self-directed in its design than many other online resources,” says Kevan Nitzberg, an Anoka High School teacher who is part of a “power user” group that has been using ArtsConnectEd since its earliest days. “That helps to give students open-ended access to researching and using the data they discover.” He and his fellow power-user teachers are developing and field-testing activities with the new site in classrooms around Minnesota this fall. “We really re-envisioned this site as an easy, flexible, and fun-to-use tool,” says Susan Rotilie, the Walker’s manager for school programs, who is a codirector of ArtsConnectEd along with the MIA’s Treden Wagoner. “We’re looking forward to seeing the creative ways that people put it to work in all academic disciplines.”

The relaunch, which has been funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, represents a milestone in a partnership between the Walker and the MIA that goes back more than 10 years. “As the needs of our audiences have changed and our technological capabilities have changed, our commitment to ArtsConnectEd and our partnership with the Walker have grown,” says Wagoner, the MIA’s technology and training specialist. He and Rotilie, plus other education and new media staff at both institutions, have been working for more than two years on the overhaul with Sandbox Studios, Inc., a company that works with museums on education and technology projects. In addition, the ongoing consultation, feedback, and testing from those ArtsConnectEd “power users” have been instrumental. “Our opinions always were important, which often isn’t the case in a public school system,” says Litchfield High School teacher Gerard Kulzer. Rotilie says the ArtsConnectEd redesign wouldn’t have been possible without Kulzer and his colleagues. “They challenged us to make the new ArtsConnectEd useful in the classroom and pushed us to create a state-of-the-art online educational resource.”

Aside from boasting an array of new functions, the redesigned ArtsConnectEd reflects other, broader changes on the Internet, such as the shift to engage people as creators of and contributors to Web sites. ArtsConnectEd still showcases the Walker and MIA collections, but it does so through the content that users create. Another change reflects new “learning/teaching paradigms that have literally turned the entire educational process on its head,” as Nitzberg puts it—such as considering teachers and students as both consumers and producers of information. “When students provide their own direction to their learning experience, ultimately that experience is much more meaningful,” he says.

Finally, the relaunch of ArtsConnectEd is just one way in which the Walker is responding to broader cultural shifts in learning enhanced by the power of online technologies. “Introducing new tools for accessing and sharing information is just the beginning,” says Walker director Olga Viso. “Along with other new programs and initiatives, including a major reinstallation of our collections in November, ArtsConnectEd presents opportunities for people to be creative themselves, to have two-way conversations about art, and to contribute to an expanding network of communities both here and outside the state of Minnesota. Ultimately, it’s one of our key tools for connecting art and the visions of artists to the larger world.”

ArtsConnectEd Homepage

ArtsConnectEd is a joint project of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center. The project to improve ArtsConnectEd was funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant.