Rethinking Survey

As a means of introducing students to the history of art, design, or visual culture, the survey model is ripe for rethinking. Each teaching environment will necessitate retooling the model (and these resources) to a certain extent.

But, if we were to go further, what could an introduction to art history be outside of the survey as we know it? The CAA News, like many in the field of art history, discussed the issue in 2005. This site still follows a very linear model. We’re working on changing that through a second phase of the project which will be hosted on Omeka. How would you – or have you – changed the linear survey? Want to blog about it here?

In the meantime:

  • One way to rethink the survey is to get students out of the classroom and into contact with objects in museums and galleries. Whether this is physically possible or not, the AHTR museum video resources make the link between campus and collections and can be augmented by Google Art Project and Columbia’s excellent “Real Virtual” architectural panoramas.
  • Pedagogies such as inquiry-based learning and teaching allow the classroom to become a place of constructive learning instead of the common darkened room and projector. The Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art project is a great example of this in action in classrooms.
  • Use class activities (find them with the lesson plans) regularly to keep the lesson dynamic and your students engaged in the learning process.
  • A class blog is one way to keep students engaged outside class hours, and to encourage those who are less vocal in class to contribute to the construction of knowledge and experience during the semester. You’ll need to set up your blog before the semester starts (using WordPress or Blogger, or within Blackboard) and then you can use it for everything from setting class readings to asking students to prep questions for your upcoming field trips. Need tech help? Your campus probably gives you free access to “Lynda,” tutorials on incorporating technology into your work.

Exploding the chronological Western culture-heavy survey model is easier wished for than done, but thinking thematically is one way to plan a semester worth of information. We are working to support thematic art history in the classroom here.

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