LESSONS LEARNED FROM LAUNCHING AN ONLINE MASTER IN ARTS EDUCATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This presentation provides an overview of the new online Master in Arts Education program implemented by the University of Florida in 2010. Online learning provides an effective venue for learning while working, as it offers flexibility for scheduling and location of learning, as well as the potential for collaboration, and for personalize instruction. As the art community continually evolves to respond to societal changes and new technology, like digital media and the Internet, it has become essential that art educators and artists remain at the forefront of developing educational methodologies and techniques. While a deep respect and understanding of the fundamentals of art are paramount, it is equally important for art educators to investigate contemporary practices, emerging technologies, and new learning environments in the field. The University of Florida new online Master of Arts in Art Education prepares art teachers to thrive within 21st century educational environments. Combining the flexibility of an immersive and virtual environment with rich, hands-on studio experiences, students in our program learn and collaborate with fellow teachers to apply their learning to their classrooms and community.
Today, digital visual experiences are inherently embedded in our physical environment, invisibly integrated into our everyday tasks, and increasingly mobile and interactive in our culture. The Horizon Report (2006, 2007) outlines several key trends of technology’s impact on teaching, learning, and creativity. For example, the academic significance of digital work is highlighted for its impact on processes of dynamic knowledge, mobile and personal technologies as a delivery platform, personalized content and services, and collaboration. These changes due to new digital media are spawning new modes of representation and styles of discourse as technology interfaces with pedagogical methodology. As Bruno Latour notes, “New innovation will be absolutely necessary if we are to adequately represent the conflicting natures of all the things that are to be designed.” (p. 12). Innovation becomes essential in imagining and designing teaching and learning for the 21st century.
In this session, I will present my instructional strategies and lessons learned with implementing an online program and course required for a Master in Art Education degree. I will describe and show examples of how I provide learning experiences in an online environment. An initial design objective was to innovatively balance interactivity and engagement in the online courses in order to provide a professional learning environment, and authentic real life activities for our remote Art Education graduate students. This included one-to-one mentoring, scheduling group discussions via Elluminate® (synchronous online platform), and detailing assignment feedback to provide a more personal learning experience. Within this course, I developed the idea of a [ART]iculations to build community and offer opportunities to engage students in art beyond discussion boards of the online environment. The discussion will illustrate that within an on-line environment a rich educational experience can be provided that develops higher order thinking skills, builds community, develops cooperative learning experiences, and harnesses the diversity of class research interests.