St. Corona

Very excited for my article “St. Corona: Teaching Art History during a Global Pandemic” to be included in the Sixteenth Century Journal’s special supplement Teaching the Early Modern World in the Era of COVID-19!

There is also a fantastic article “Black Lives Matter in the Medieval and Renaissance Classroom: Using Digital Tools to Enable Student Success” by Horacio Sierra included in the issue.

https://www.escj.org/blog/st-corona-teaching-art-history-during-global-pandemic.html

Can art amend history?

In May I started my survey class with Saint Corona. When my next course starts in two weeks, this is how I will begin:

Welcome to AHIS 1214,

I want to welcome you to this class by sharing with you why I think art history is important. The cover of the June 15, 2020 Time Magazine features a painting by the artist Titus Kaphar. He created the image specifically for the issue devoted to a special report on the American protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th. (see below).

Woman holding child

He wrote a piece to accompany the painting that can be found here: https://time.com/5847487/george-floyd-time-cover-titus-kaphar/

Kaphar is one of my favorite artists. Watch this TEDtalk to see why.

We will begin by looking at images of the Madonna and Child, the art historical tradition that Kaphar references in his time magazine cover. We will also be covering European art in the seventeenth century. I want to be very clear the sumptuous paintings we will see were made possible by the wealth generated by colonialism. One of our learning objectives is to make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and our contemporary visual culture.

Kaphar’s TEDTalk is powerful. I hope it inspires you to look closely and think critically in this course. Because yes, I believe art can amend history. We need it right now more than ever.

Warmly,

Alena

I don’t know how to teach online… yet. What learning to teach online during a pandemic has taught me about resilience.

On March 13th I did not know how to teach online but as it became increasingly apparent, I was going to have to learn. Since then I have learned the power of not yet.

In her groundbreaking work on the power of a growth mindset Carol Dweck emphasizes the importance of “yet” in successes inside and outside of the classroom. The Stanford psychologist has put forth two different basic beliefs we have about ourselves.

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities (Popova).

A fixed mindset says I can’t teach online. A growth mindset says I can’t teach online… yet.

So I had to figure out a way to be able to teach remotely. When I first started teaching and felt something wasn’t quite right I started taking classes in Vancouver Community College (VCC)’s Professional Instructor Diploma Program. To prepare for our new reality,  I went back to VCC’s School of Instructor Education and found a course of study for teaching online. I am now almost finished the program, with one course remaining.

Yes it has been hard. My partner and I have been juggling child-care and both working (more than) full-time. We have been forced to create new routines. He takes our children for drives so I can meet colleagues over Zoom. I make new curriculum maps during nap time. I work on assignments after they go to bed.  But these challenging times have also created more space for me to spend time with my daughters. For the past two months we have read more, played more, coloured more, sang more. I remembered what is important in my life. And ironically I have  never been more productive or reflective. Spending time with my four year old and two year old has reminded me that I want them to grow up to be resilient. Together we have embraced our seclusion and used it as a special time to learn new things. Tori worked on using the big girl potty and Evie practiced reading and writing letters. For little ones these are big, challenging tasks. And that’s why instead of saying “I can’t read” we say, “I can’t read, yet.” When they say something is hard, I remind them we can do hard things.

Our kids are new to using the potty and reading, just like I am new to teaching online. My own anxiety about teaching in a new distance format reminded me how scary it can be to learn something new. It reminded me how many of my students feel when they enter class. For many instructors we have been experts for so long, teaching the same way, we forget what it is like to be a novice. And just like I want to model resilience for my daughters, as educators we need to be modelling resilience for our students. These are truly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times. For years now higher education has been talking about preparing students for a world not yet created. Now more than ever we need to be transparent about what we are doing in pandemic times: we are “working effectively in groups to solve problems together; reading and interpreting complicated data, events, and texts; undertaking original research; and understanding and making sense of ambiguity (the gray areas).”

2020’s drastic pivot in teaching and learning gives us an opportunity to reimagine our teaching. For some it might be an opportunity to experiment with new technologies. For others changes in format can allow for changes in assessment using Universal Design for Learning.  For all of us we could think about supporting our students by using Open Educational Resources (OER). Most importantly however, Cathy Davidson reminds us of The Single Most Essential Requirement in Designing a Fall Course Online: “Adjust accordingly. We need to be human first, professor second.  We need to design as humans for humans in a global crisis.”

At some point post-secondary institutions might go back to business as usual. But I wonder what we can learn from these truly VUCA pandemic times. One mindset shift recommends replacing “I cannot wait for this to be over!” with “After this ends, what will I appreciate?”

So much of my learning from teaching online I am going to take back to my face to face delivery:

  • I am revising assignments to be more aligned with the learning objectives
  • I am ensuring that assessments are authentic and sustainable (versus disposable)
  • I am writing clearer instructions and more detailed rubrics
  • I am ensuring that content is accessible for all learners
  • I am working to build my intercultural competency
  • I am excited to see how I can build community virtually, and use technology to connect with students across time and space.

Like it or not many of us will be teaching differently in the next academic year. We need to stop focusing on why it won’t work and figuring out how we can make it work. For us and for our students.

As the most resilient person I know, my Dad (and maybe the US Marine Corps), always says: Improvise. Adapt. And overcome.

39359A6A-885E-46F5-9517-EA76414BF664

Assessment Activity Plan

Art & Visual Culture Renaissance to 20th Century

This blog post is part of an assessment activity plan exercise for EDUC 4151. I will expand upon it for the final assignment in this course – Creating a Course Module.

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 12.22.10 PM
Kamila Al-Karem, CE (Corona Era) (2020)

Learner Characteristics:

  • First year Fine Arts students (required course)
  • Various students from other programs (elective course)
  • High number of International Students and/or students with English as an Additional Language
  • Majority of students work part or full time
  • For many of the students this is their first time taking an online course 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify key works of art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Define critical terms related to art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Explain the changes and continuity of visual expressions from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Describe the form, content, and context of art and visual culture from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Analyze the iconography, symbolism, and forms of the period that continue to shape visual culture
  • Make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and the visual culture of our world.

Module Activities 20% (On-going and self-assessed):

Completing the reading and viewing and assignments for each weekly module is mandatory. I have very carefully structured and organized the course material, with the intention that you will dive in and explore at your own pace. I encourage you to explore the topics I present to you, and consider how the themes may relate to your own life or possibly even artistic practice. The survey is often considered the foundation for you to build the rest of your art historical exploration on – make it a strong one.

Writing Assignments 40% (July 5th  / July 12th   / July 19th / July 27th):

For these assignments, you will write four responses to the assigned readings/viewings based on topics I provide. The prompts will range from research essays to more personal responses depending on which prompt you choose. Each writing assignment is to be 750-1000 words and will be worth ten points. You can write in first or third person. Some additional research may be required, as each submission requires a minimum of four sources. Your writing assignments can also be posted in whole or in part to your blog.

Create Your Own Blog 20% (On-going and due Aug 2nd):
For this assignment you will create a blog frequently post written responses, images, articles and videos related to the art and issues discussed in class.

Art in Quarantine 15% (June 28th  / July 12th  / July 19th  / July 26th):

Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed museums around the world, many responded by encouraging people to recreate works in their own homes. For example the Rijksmuseum called for “everyone at home who needs some relief” to first an art work, then use 3 items in their home to reconstruct the work and share it. Many of these works are now being shared @tussenkunstenquarantaine (Between Art and Quarantine). This assignment challenges you to do the same. I am excited to see what you will create.

Rational

Module Activities:

  • Identify key works of art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Define critical terms related to art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Explain the changes and continuity of visual expressions from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Describe the form, content, and context of art and visual culture from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Analyze the iconography, symbolism, and forms of the period that continue to shape visual culture
  • Make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and the visual culture of our world.

Each week there will be a couple of low-stakes, activities for learners that relates to the content they have reviewed. These include adding definitions to terms in the glossary, completing crossword puzzles,  short discussion activities, matching iconography with images, short quizzes, wiki’s, and even a hashtag activity. At the mid-term they have an short survey for them to reflect on their engagement. At the end of the semester they will self-assess their completion of the activities.

Writing Assignments:

  • Explain the changes and continuity of visual expressions from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Describe the form, content, and context of art and visual culture from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Analyze the iconography, symbolism, and forms of the period that continue to shape visual culture
  • Make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and the visual culture of our world.

Students are required to submit four short writing assignments over the course of the semester. I provide them with a list of topics they can choose from. They also have the option of writing on another topic, they confirm with me.

Create Your Own Blog:

  • Identify key works of art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Define critical terms related to art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Explain the changes and continuity of visual expressions from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Describe the form, content, and context of art and visual culture from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Analyze the iconography, symbolism, and forms of the period that continue to shape visual culture
  • Make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and the visual culture of our world.

At the beginning of the course students create (or use a previous) blog. They can share their other assignments here and comment on classmates posts. Each week I give them a list of topics they can research and respond to.

Art in Quarantine:

  • Identify key works of art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Describe the form, content, and context of art and visual culture from Renaissance to the 20th Century
  • Analyze the iconography, symbolism, and forms of the period that continue to shape visual culture
  • Make connections between the images and objects viewed in class and the visual culture of our world.

This has been my favorite assignment to date. This gives students an opportunity to physically engage with works and explore “knowing” in different ways beyond writing and speaking. This assignment is a great way for students to be creative.

Five Pieces of Flair

Five ways I can ensure that learners feel my presence in the course site:

  1. Answer the survey myself. Every semester in face to face or online courses I provide students with a survey. The questions range from very practical (what would like to be called, personal pronouns) to more fun (who is your favorite artist?). This semester I include more questions about internet capacity and hardware access. One way I can establish my presence is by answering some of the questions myself.
  2. Respond to their answers. I try to remember what students say in their survey and refer to it when appropriate (and not something sensitive mentioned in confidence).
  3. Participate along side them. For some of the assignments I have created my own examples for them to see.
  4. Create short videos responding to their assignments. I can do this individually or to the class as a whole, commenting on their progress. I am now learning how to use Kaltura more efficiently.
  5. Adapt to their feedback. I think it is important for them to see that I am responsive to their weekly comments.

 

Adaptability Connection Equity

What we’ve been doing for the last eight weeks is coping. What we are starting to do now feels more like planning. ~ Robin DeRosa

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 1.49.50 PM

I just came across this article. I am a huge fan of Robin DeRosa’s work and I think her ACE model might be helpful for us in thinking about how we move forward. For more on consistent, mission-aligned framework see:

https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/views/2020/05/13/consistent-mission-aligned-instructional-framework-fall-and-beyond 

Her team has also created an open access model that could be adapted to your specific institution: