Where the project take place and
when?History of Art departments at Universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen
and St Andrews; and HATII (Humanities Advanced Technology and Information
Institute) in University of Glasgow. The project began in April 2002 and has
been in progress for c.15 months.
Who were the staff and students involved?
Academic/Art History Staff: Mr. Paul Stirton, Ms. Juliet Kinchin, Dr.
Shona Kallestrup, Dr. Jeremy Howard. Technical support staff: Brian Aitken.
Students: Undergraduate honours students taking central/east European courses
at honours level in the universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews. Also selected
research postgraduate students at the University of Glasgow.
What was the problem which was being addressed?
A body of expertise in the material culture of Central and Eastern
Europe was identified in art history departments at the Universities of
Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen. However, the introduction of new courses in
this area was hindered by a lack of sufficient teaching resources (both visual
and textual). In response a plan was drawn up to pool resources between the
three university Art History departments, both in terms of staff and images,
and to generate a teaching initiative that would make previously inaccessible
material available to students in a form that could be used for taught and
fully assessed undergraduate courses.
What resources were in place already or contributed
to the development? Research material of the individual project
members as well as the limited library and image resources held by the three
art history departments. The preliminary development of a web-based image
resource-framework had already been undertaken by HATII in Glasgow University.
New resources? Creation, development and
design of a web-site and related teaching resources (images and texts)
dedicated to the 'Other Europes' project.
What did you do? The four academic
participants established a collaborative project between the three universities
to develop teaching resources and an academic network of specialists dealing
with the material culture of Central and Eastern Europe. The project involved
the creation of an innovative web-based teaching resource with the assistance
of HATII (the Humanities Advance Technology Information Institute at Glasgow),
and a new team-taught Honours course for undergraduates. The web-based resource
consists of digitised images with accompanying meta-data and captions written
by the staff. The system allows Art History students to access images by a wide
variety of search mechanisms and to group images and write essays about them.
Their work can be saved so that it is viewable by all staff and, where deemed
appropriate, other students. The resource is available to art history students
at the three universities and accessed by a password and user name. New and
adapted Honours courses, with collaborative teaching, were delivered at
Aberdeen and St. Andrews universities in this first year of the project. These
initiatives have laid the groundwork for future collaboration on undergraduate
teaching between the three university art history departments on Central and
Eastern European honours courses.
How did you do it? We set up the 'Other
Europes' web-site framework, adapting an existing model developed by Brian
Aitken of HATII. Project members produced and uploaded images and texts
providing a body of accessible material (in English) for undergraduate
teaching. Two project members developed new, or adapted existing, Honours
courses to incorporate the web-site for the academic session 2002-03. Those two
staff also taught on each others' courses in Aberdeen and St Andrews offering a
broadly similar course on two sites which utilised the expertise of the two
academic staff .
Why did you do it that way?In order to
maximise existing resources and academic specialisations of the contributing
scholars between the three universities. It is intended that this course will
be taught, with modifications, in all three university art history departments
over the next two years.
What constraints or support did you find?
The principal support for the project as a whole was the availability of the
web-based image resource-framework which had already been developed by Brian
Aitken at HAATI in Glasgow University. On the technical side, the main effort
and expense was in the adaptation and re-design of this web-based teaching
resource specifically for the 'Other Europes' project.
The main constraints lay in the amount of staff time
required, especially in the early stages, to establish the core material and to
make the web-site ready for staff and student use. Financial constraints
impinged on the quantity of our output in that much of the basic preparation
had to be undertaken by the five staff alongside their other commitments.
Library provision for the new course at Aberdeen was
supported by the School of History and History of Art. In general, there has
been much peer encouragement and enthusiasm for the approach adopted on the
'Other Europes' project and its attendant courses.
How much time was expended? Almost
impossible to calculate - as a rough estimate it was equivalent to or more than
the time needed for the development of a new full-year Honours course.
What preparations did you need to make?As
well as organisation of the course, collation of academic content and
assessment of taught undergraduate courses, there was additional work in
preparing this for delivery in web-based format. (Initial training in use of
the use of the web-site; selection, preparation and digitisation of images and
texts; inputting/uploading of material to the web-site, etc.)
How is it going/how did it go?Two courses
incorporating the web-based resource as an integral element were successfully
delivered in Spring 2003 at the universities of St Andrews and Aberdeen.
What's the source of your evaluation?
Student performance was equivalent to that on existing Honours
courses. Student feedback forms were prepared, distributed and the responses
were extremely positive.
What difference has it made? (1) Allowed us
to teach more effectively in the field of Central/East European art and design
history which suffers from a lack of collated resources. This project has also
assisted the four academic staff to introduce new undergraduate courses in
subjects closer to their research interests. (2) Given students access to
material otherwise unavailable to them. (3) Enabled new, innovative forms of
teaching to be introduced which could be adapted for art/design history courses
in any period or geographical area.
Has it had an appropriate impact on
learning?Yes absolutely. The standards achieved by students on the new
Central/East European courses in this first year were equivalent to those of
students on well-established, mainstream courses in the same departments.
'Other Europes' has, therefore, broadened the range of course provision in the
relevant departments introducing less familiar material to the undergraduate
programme. It has also offered a model for development of other undergraduate
courses in fields which are less well served by existing library and image
The mode of delivery has introduced students to a new medium
of teaching (web-based). The staff involved are not specialists in Information
Technology and the 'Other Europes'courses are not intended or designed to teach
technical skills in this field. Nevertheless, the fact that students have
completed this course demonstrates an awareness of, and familiarity with, new
technologies with a wider application than the classroom alone.
What were the problems you encountered, and how did
you fix them?Teething problems/development glitches with the web-site
were to be expected but we were fortunate in having a close collaborator in
Brian Aitken, the designer of the web-resource. Beyond the immediate task of
familiarising the academic staff with this resource, there were some additional
problems in introducing students of mixed experience to this mode of teaching
and learning. In most cases this simply involved more time supervising students
in both the technical and academic aspects of a web-based course. These
problems are various and often depend on the size and relative experience of
the student group. A list of common problems and how to address them is being
prepared and will be updated and expanded to act as a basic trouble-shooting
list. Each problem encountered has been noted and will be addressed and fully
resolved with further investment of time and money.
What would you have done differently?It
would have been useful to have sought further sources of funding in the early
stages to assist in the uploading of images which did not require specialist
Was it worth it? Yes. The enthusiastic
response of students and colleagues has exceeded expectations.
Is it continuing?Yes - it is a permanent
resource for the on-going undergraduate teaching in the three participating art
history departments. The course will be taught in all three universities in the
next two academic sessions. The consortium is also interested in collaborating
with other art history departments, in Britain and overseas, and with
organisations retaining copyright of images of Central and East European art
Is it transportable? Yes - as a web-based
resource it can be accessed and made available to staff and students via the
www anywhere. Access can also be restricted to participating institutions and
individuals, and to ensure control of copyright material for educational
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