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University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen and University of St. Andrews

History of Art Departments Glasgow, Aberdeen, St. Andrews

Case Study Report, September 2003

Juliet Kinchin: J.Kinchin@arthist.arts.gla.ac.uk

Paul Stirton: P.Stirton@arthist.arts.gla.ac.uk

Shona Kallestrup: hoa048@abdn.ac.uk

Jeremy Howard: jch2@st-andrews.ac.uk


Links

Background Report 1
Background Report 2

Sample Course Outlines - Pending

Sample Bibliographies - Pending


Report

Setting

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.

Description

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.)

Evaluation

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 resources.

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 academic knowledge.

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 and design.

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 use.

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