Incorporating Digital Art History into the Curriculum

As the beginning of the semester rapidly approaches (and the summer sadly ends), I find myself trying to incorporate new digital tools into my three courses. After the GMU/Getty institute in Digital Art History ended, I began changing my syllabi to include more digital tools and projects. I have to remind myself not to overload students with all the wonderful “things” out there. That said, I feel strongly that a working knowledge of some basic digital skills will help students develop better research skills, study habits, and critical reading and writing skills. And let’s face it: these days students need digital skills to get jobs.


Here’s a rough breakdown of what I’ve included in my three classes for Fall semester.

Art: Its History and Meaning (global survey of art history)

  • Thinglink: I will show students several Thinglink examples in class. Then we wil do one together. Eventually I will have them complete several annotated images as part of their course project.
  • Animoto: Students will have the opportunity to use Animoto (over powerpoint) to present a 90-second “commercial” about a scholarly article.

Native American Art (upper-level undergrads and grad students)

  • Thinglink: Similar to the class above, students will make their own annotated images. Because this class meets once a week, students will create 1 annotated image in Thinglink each week.
  • Animoto: Students will have the option of using Animoto as one component of their final project that asks them to write a Smarthistory-like entry about an object in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Methods in Art History (grad-only seminar)

  • Google Drive: Students will submit materials in a shared folder. They will also learn to collaborate and comment in Google Docs and Google Presentation.
  • Zotero: I’m using Zotero to help students create better bibliographies. And frankly I’m hoping it will help them learn to incorporate citations better into their research papers and M.A. theses.
  • Google Maps: Some students might be interested to map their research for their thesis. Plus, they should have a basic understanding of how to map data and in the process create tidy data.
  • Google Fusion Tables: If there is time, I’ll talk about Fusion Tables as another option for visualizing data.
  • Voyant-tools (and several other data mining tools): Whether they will use it or not, my hope is they will have a basic understanding of what data mining is and how they can use/do it.
  • WordPress: Every student should have basic knowledge about blogging platforms and website creation.
  • And more!


With some luck I’ll write a few posts throughout the semester that reflect on how how the digital adventures are going.

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