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Donna Gesualdo, New Museum of Contemporary Art, USA
Session: Achieving Educational Objectives
The New Museum of Contemporary Art's Education department has been working with alternative high schools and at-risk students in the New York area since 1984 as part of the Visible Knowledge Program (VKP). Pairing artist-instructors with classroom teachers on a semester or year-long basis, the Education department provides professional development and technological support to VKP participants collaborating on the integration of contemporary art with core high school curricula (Social Studies, English, Science) and the development of online Classrooms and Studios. In liaison with museum staff, the teachers and artist-instructors develop and teach weekly lessons that explore the connections between contemporary art practice and current cultural and social issues introduced in the different subject areas.
Launched in March 1999, the Visible Knowledge Program Web site (http://www.vkp.org) uses cold fusion programming to provide an interactive and continually expanding resource and work space for educators, artists and students. The site complements the practical in-class learning experience by providing a cyber learning environment consisting of four areas—Classrooms, Studios, Galleries and a Library. The Classroom and Studio spaces offer participants individual or group work areas to upload images of student and artists’ work, personal statements and lesson plans in progress. Both the Curriculum Units and the Classrooms are linked to Forums where visitors and registered users may participate in dialogue and offer feedback on the lesson plans and posted work.
The eventual goal of the VKP Web site is to reach and support educators worldwide. As the site is still quite new, the activity online consists only of the teachers and students from the schools with which the museum has established collaborative programs. Even at that, the use of the site has been sporadic. The challenge the department now faces is how to fully incorporate the site into the classroom learning process and then successfully extend it in an organic manner specific to each unique group of students.
During my presentation, I will address the difficulties I face in trying to incorporate a web-based program into the "real" classroom where teachers and artists are somewhat resistant to new media. I will also discuss the measures I have taken to generate more interest in and activity on the site and offer suggestions to other web administrators and museum educators for sustained participation, both online and in the classroom, throughout a collaboration. Lastly, I will present some solutions for effectively using a web component in the classroom so that it meets the needs of both the teacher and the students.