Playing Art Historian: Teaching 20th Century Art through Alternate Reality Gaming
AbstractWhile technological advancements have brought changes in pedagogy in a range of disciplines, many of the fundamental elements of teaching in art history have remained consistent. However, the traditional model of lecture and slide recognition transfers poorly into online environments, and new modalities of courses offer opportunities to revisit and reconsider these models. In the spring of 2014, Keri Watson taught an upper-level course on Twentieth Century Art History at the University of Central Florida. The course was designated as mixed mode, meeting for an hour and fifteen minutes as a lecture with the remaining content delivered online through Webcourses, a Canvas-driven learning management system. Canvas offers many of the fundamental features of learning management systems, including discussion boards, student groups, and content structures, which can be used to augment the course experience. A course of this kind presents a range of technological and pedagogical challenges and opportunities, particularly when presented to a group of sixty students. Thus, we collaborated on the design of an alternate reality game (a virtual-physical game hybrid using a narrative to build an experience) to transform the course and further explore the potential of online learning. In this semester-long pilot, we ran and evaluated a prototype of an original game entitled “Secret Societies of the Avant-garde” as an experiment in playful learning for art history. The game draws on inspirations from gaming and digital pedagogy. In this overview, we will contextualize our approach to designing the game, and analyze our process and outcomes.
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