Clemson Online is new but emerging as the entity responsible for providing excellent online education. “With that responsibility comes a continuous process of curriculum revision to ensure all of the university’s online courses are fresh, relevant, and ever responsive to student feedback,” say Dr. Witt Salley, Director of Clemson Online. One such example is AAH 2100 (previously AAH 210). Changes within different online courses are taking place to ensure that Clemson’s core values for online instruction are met. Clemson Online is committed to exceptional quality and interactive courses that are more than correspondence courses or repositories of content and assignments. To accomplish this goal for AAH 2100, new instructor Lydia Dorsey has re-envisioned and redeveloped the course to exemplify research-based effective practices in online education. Professor Dorsey explains her course revision as follows.
Despite the fact that universities worldwide are continually expanding their online course offerings to provide wider accessibility to post-secondary education, many students and educators alike remain critical of online learning. Opponents contend that the online format cannot provide the same degree of direct student engagement, leaving learners feeling isolated from their instructor and peers, which negatively impacts student motivation and overall learning outcomes. However, with a “learner-centered” pedagogy, online and distance learning platforms can be just as successful as traditional on-ground learning, while also being more immersive, convenient and cost-effective to students.
The newly improved structure of AAH 2100 has been redesigned to incorporate best practices in online learning through creative, technologically-forward means. AAH 2100 will guide students through a survey the history of Western art, from prehistory to contemporary times utilizing interactive, multimedia learning modules. In this format, students are able to explore the depths and nuances of course material that would not otherwise be possible in a traditional, 50-minute class period. AAH 2100 incorporates a variety of learning resources including videos, virtual tours, interactive timelines and maps, in addition to traditional readings and PowerPoints. The course assignments are designed to challenge the students to think critically by analyzing the formal, cultural, and historical properties of art and architecture in relation to broader art historical themes as well as contemporary issues.
“Bridging the gap” between students and distance learning requires regular, creative methods of involvement. To combat the notorious feelings of isolation associated with online learning, students of AAH 2100 participate in ongoing instructor-facilitated peer discussions. Students are required to apply the weekly AAH content to debate historical and contemporary issues surrounding topics such as gender, race, politics, and technology. In creating a responsive peer environment in which to openly discuss and debate key topics and issues in art history, students will have the opportunity to grow as argumentative writers, critical thinkers, and as burgeoning art historians over the course of a semester.
My main priority as an instructor for AAH 2100 is to create a learner-centered environment, in which students actively participate in and are held accountable for the learning process. In my revitalized version of AAH 2100 online, students do not merely memorize material and regurgitate information on exams. Instead, they are immersed in the vast history of Western art and learn how its study can make us more socially and globally aware. Hopefully, they have a little fun and make a few friends along the way.
-Lydia Dorsey, AAH 2100 Instructor
Furthermore, there are many benefits to taking the new AAH 2100 course. First, students receive dual credit, as it fulfills general education and cross-cultural credits. And according toProfessor Blanken, students will be pleasantly surprised to gain and retain knowledge with real-world applications. In addition, through taking this course, they are able to hone in on research, study, and writing skills.
Course development is an iterative process as well as a partnership between faculty and online learning specialists, so Clemson Online will continue to work with staff and faculty who teach the courses to revamp other online courses. Other courses that have recently been revised include ENGL 3150, Scientific Writing and Communication. Clemson Online is listening to students and taking their opinions into account. The goal is to ensure that online courses are equal, if not superior, to classes taken on-campus. Clemson University strives for excellence and the highest quality education, and Clemson Online is working to deliver that to distance learning courses.
| Written by Clemson Online’s Haley Sudduth