Sunday, April 10, 2011

PLN IN ACTION: How It All Works

My PLN is pretty well-developed and so this week I decided to lean on them for help.  I learned that I will be teaching the Art History class next year in the art department.  My goal is to revamp the class and take it from a lecture-based, watch the slides go by kind of class to an interactive, student-centered course.  I want my students to build the content of the class with my guidance.

I asked my Tweeps and my ning colleagues what resources they would use to do this.  I also asked for their ideas on how they would make Art History into a more interactive, student-centered class.  I am still collecting information, but already I've received some great feedback.  I developed a diigo list for gathering all the links.  It is public so others can see it and I hope they might consider suggesting other links to add.  To see the diigo Art History link click here. 

Immediately I got a response from Melinda Larson-Horne, the talented French teacher at Pewaukee High School.  She suggested both and google art project Smarthistory looks really promising with wonderful ways to search including by artist, time, style or theme.  It features a timeline that you can click on to see what was happening in art.  The timeline is image based so visitors can immediately see the works of art and then click to learn more.  You can also create your own content, browse the blog, download podcast to iTunes and watch videos embedded on the site.  There is also a link called Teach with Smarthistory, which has a number of other fantastic resources. They have a flickr photo group that I joined.  Members contribute their photos of famous works they've visited and seen.   Lastly I see that they also have a Youtube channel and a Vimeo link as well.  Fantastic resource that I will definitely use.  Thanks Melinda!

I already knew about google art project from  Theresa McGee, another PLN person whom I follow on Twitter and the Art Ed 2.0 ning community.  She also does a blog and shared her own use of google art project there at the Teaching Palette.  I had fun exploring the the virtual art museums and galleries at the Google Art Project.  I think it could be very powerful for students to view.  I especially loved how I was in the Uffizi and then suddenly headed outside and was actually on the street in front of the Uffizi where I'd really walked a few years ago on my trip to Italy.  VERY COOL....Bella!  You can create your own collections on the site and customize your visit.  This could be a really powerful tool for student-centered explorations. 

I was especially pleased with the suggestions of Ian Sands, an artist and art educator who I follow on .  Ian shared a link to his school website and ning network.  He already teaches art history this way, sending his students on webquests using mobil phones to find the information they need to develop the content for the course.  I like the use of cell phones and also the fact that Ian has a vimeo video of himself explaining the entire process.  I'm guessing his students watch this for the first time when things are introduced.  Teaching is so isolating so to actually feel I am a fly on the wall in another teachers' class room is really powerful.  Thanks Ian for your help.

Why have a PLN?  In less than 2 days I received answers and numerous resources that I may or may not have stumbled upon in my own research.  I found people who are already doing what I want to do and grew my teaching community and the community for my students.  Perhaps I will collaborate with Ian, maybe my students can quest for art history knowledge with his students, chatting online or even via their cell phones.  Love it!


  1. Love the connected classroom idea! Let's work something out. Ian

  2. I will definitely contact you to work something out. I think it would be great. Maybe we can skype too!