About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 602-612
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

EFFECTS OF DISCUSSION BOARDS AND ROLE PLAYING IN ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSES

A. Ter-Stepanian

Southern Connecticut State University (UNITED STATES)
The importance of discussion boards in creating a collaborative learning environment has been emphasized in numerous studies. Discussion boards have also been shown to have an important role in knowledge construction. One of the challenges of instructional design for distance learning is to achieve a balanced combination of these two aspects of discussion board functionality. In online art history courses, discussion board postings may be used to assess students’ command of the material. These can replace the traditional essay type assessments which constitute an important part of in-class testing.
One of the most effective ways of establishing group discussions in asynchronous online courses is to carefully tailor the selection of discussion board topics to encourage learner engagement in the eLearning environment. Analyses of learning outcomes in online art history courses demonstrates that placing students in imaginary situations within the cultural environments of particular historical periods promotes critical thinking and encourages students to explore in more detail the social, political, and religious conditions of the societies in which the works of art were produced. These scenario-based assignments personalize the learning experience, allowing students to draw connections between the material and their own lives, compelling them to exercise both curiosity and creativity – essential components of engaged learning. Discussion board writing assignments that are tailored and specific also prevent plagiarism, an important factor in the ‘open book’ online environment.
Scenario-based assignments are particularly effective when role playing is involved. When students are assigned roles, they often engage with extreme originality; they also interact with their peers with creative playfulness. Role playing may thus be used in a variety of situations, four of which are discussed in the paper - “cultural shock”, “commissioner of an artwork”, “juror of an artwork” and “reporter/interviewer”. In the “cultural shock” assignment, students describe characteristic features of present day cultures, reflect on religious and political differences, region-specific buildings or burial practices, and even gender issues. Similarly, when they assume the role of “artwork commissioner”, students learn to evaluate, compare, and contrast the work of different artists. Role playing is also effective in group projects, where students have to take on a variety of factual historical roles, such as the roles of jurors in reenactments of famous competitions. This allows students to engage in constructive arguments with opponents, consider differing opinions, convince other “jurors”, and support their views with factual material. The “reporter/interviewer” assignment encourages students to compile questions for artists and to respond to such questions as artists would. Skills developed include seeking out additional information (i.e. on artists’ personal lives), reading (i.e. artists’ writings), and enhancing informal writing skills.
The paper describes best practices for the optimal use of discussion boards, analyzes the effects of role playing in the online environment, and compares scenario-based assignments and their learning outcomes. Case studies are used to support this argument, and draw on examples from over sixty online undergraduate art history modules taught over the last eight years.
@InProceedings{TERSTEPANIAN2009EFF,
author = {Ter-Stepanian, A.},
title = {EFFECTS OF DISCUSSION BOARDS AND ROLE PLAYING IN ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSES},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {602-612}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Ter-Stepanian
TI - EFFECTS OF DISCUSSION BOARDS AND ROLE PLAYING IN ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSES
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 602
EP - 612
ER -
A. Ter-Stepanian (2009) EFFECTS OF DISCUSSION BOARDS AND ROLE PLAYING IN ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSES, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 602-612.
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