Penn State Instructor of Art Anna Divinsky recently developed an online version of ART 010 (Introduction to Visual Studies) through iTunes U, making the course available to anyone with an iTunes account. Since the course went live last month, it has gained more than 21,000 subscriptions and is currently featured on the iTunes U homepage.
Q: What made you want to develop an online course?
A: My experience stems from traditional teaching face-to-face studio art courses, so I wanted to develop a well-rounded online art course that included some of the studio face-to-face components such as art technique demonstrations, constructive and detailed feedback, and close communication with the instructor. I also wanted to create a course that encouraged the students to look at art in a new way that might not be familiar to them.
Q: How did you adapt ART 010 for iTunes?
A: The School of Visual Arts, Education Technology Services and the eLearning Institute collaborated to design a course within iTunes U. There were no art courses available at that time on iTunes U, so this was a very exciting opportunity for us to create the first art course. ART 010 was the perfect choice because it is an art appreciation course for non-art majors — learners without any previous art experience.
Q: Is the online course as interactive as the traditional one?
A: Yes, the learners are able to progress through the course by reading the materials, watching videos and creating artwork just as they would for the actual ART 010 course at Penn State. In addition, after creating artwork for the course, they can share their pieces and feedback utilizing the ART 010 hashtag. The use of the hashtag and apps for the Apple course make it even more interactive than the original. We are looking to explore new ways of enhancing the total learning experience with the possibility of delivering it to different audience.
Q: What do you have to say about movements toward expanding education opportunities beyond traditional classrooms and making learning possible online?
A: I find these movements really exciting. I think that online teaching and learning offer many opportunities to learners of all ages and backgrounds, encouraging people who might not be able to participate in a traditional classroom environment to receive high quality education. These learners include people from all over the world, joining their experience and creativity to participate in online learning. I believe that due to these opportunities a lot more people will be pursuing education.
Q: Do you think that online learning can ever be a good substitute to traditional learning?
A: I believe that online and traditional learning environments are not competitors. Blended learning provides great exposure and experience for the students. Some courses absolutely need the student to be present, while others provide a very beneficial learning experience online. I think that both can co-exist, informing and inspiring one another.