A DILEMMA OF FINE ARTS EDUCATION IN THE ONLINE DOMAIN: BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DISCONNECT
Wentworth Institute of Techology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The opportunities and limitations of distance learning become apparent in subjects that are interpretive as well as methodological. The course, “Architectural Photography”, requires students to learn mechanics and create works of art. Online course delivery and management tools help organize student training, submissions, communication, and assessments.
Student work is often posted to public web sites in the form of self-recorded and produced videos and still photographs. A stream of topics corresponding to the curriculum prompts a constantly running discussion board. Using self-assessment quizzes and independent discussion, students unravel many difficult concepts on an “asynchronous” basis. Semi-weekly web conferences utilize Powerpoint® presentations, videos, live tablet mark-ups, chat and verbal participation to engage students. These online sessions stimulate more students simultaneously, allow for live time “break-out” groups, and allow more overall participation. When compared to the standard face-to-face class session the web conferencing format resulted in much more positive feedback in final evaluations.
Once students have mastered the necessary skills to take photographs, they are asked to generate photographs that are works of art. Such an assignment is easy to give, but almost impossible to evaluate using a typical online grading rubric, wherein the instructor would be required to assign numeric values to the indefinite characteristics of a work of art. This particular class has 28 students. Using the most sophisticated web-cam conferencing tools, online critique of this volume of work is at best daunting. Proponents of distance learning would encourage the use of peer review for evaluation. However, if all of the participants are learning at the same time, the value of their judgment is, at best, suspect. If, by design, the student and instructor do not meet person-to-person to discuss the unique qualities of the work, the evaluation method is flawed.
The disconnect between quantitative and qualitative evaluation in distance learning reaches across many fields of study. The change in students over the last ten to twenty years – disengagement of personal communication, a widespread drop in literacy, the inability of high-level multi-taskers to focus thought, the loss of information in digitizing – can all be associated with the increased application of computers. The study endeavors to find methods of evaluating qualitative work in the digital age by bridging this digital disconnect.
Keywords: e-learning, online evaluation, online fine arts education.