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Wednesday, 25 March 2015 10:05

FATE Biennial 2015 Conference: Tectonic Shifts

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Tectonic Shifts: FATE 2015 

The FATE national biennial conference will be hosted by the Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI, March 25 – 28, 2015.  The theme, “Tectonic Shifts: Breaking New Ground,” will invite an examination of how the forces of change are shaping the foundation landscape.

Josh Yavelberg will be presenting his paper, Gamifying and Going OER with Art History Surveyat the conference on Friday, March 27 from 4-5:30 pm under the session, Experiential Learning in Art History chaired by Randy Horst of Goshen College. You can also download the presentation. will be heavily advertised throughout the event as we hope to build on the growing community of scholars interested in Art History Pedagogy, or the Study of Teaching and Learning in Art History.  

It is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of an Open Educational Resource (OER) collaboration area for This wiki space will allow for the continued development, review, and revision of OER modules developed for art history courses. Before I introduce you to this addition, I should briefly explain the rationale.

OERs are a growing phenomenon within education. The term refers to freely distributed academic information that may be utilized to supplement course material once housed only within published textbooks. In the current landscape of education, where costs are rising for students, often creating barriers to success, the growing livability of these resources in our more connected world hold many advantages. Sites such as Khan Academy, the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others already house excellent academic information that supplements much of what the published texts contained. Some sources such as Khan Academy provide learning modules, whereas others simply contain supplements to the reading. 

The benefits of these sources are as endless as the instructor allows them to be. The diversity allows for instruction regarding academic quality, perspective, and critical thinking. These allow us, as teachers, to be flexible in our delivery, open up new avenues for exploration on a topic, and consider the world of information available in the twenty-first century.

Every great innovation is not without its issues. OERs are spread across a vast information landscape that requires sifting through and accepting or rejecting resources based on their academic merit, often difficult to ascertain. These modules also require time and energy on the part of faculty to once again develop their lessons rather than trust the information from an already organized text, this requires time and effort, especially to translate them to a digital lecture format. OERs do not come with the rigorous peer-review process necessary for publishing. Links often are moved or become dead, causing students to be without information when they require it. And, when utilizing sources for such modules, the issues of copyright are always looming. 

Many of these issues can be overcome through a community of practice such as this one. I personally became concerned when asked to develop modules to be adopted at UMUC as they removed the textbook requirements for Art History I and II. I developed the modules for both classes in isolation and then delivered them into the content without any formal review. I have thus overcome some of the issues of analysis by placing the review process onto the students, asking them to suggest sources and provide critical analysis. They also gain extra points by finding dead links and suggesting replacements, allowing me to keep the material instantly up to date. I still believe that an expert review process is necessary if these modules are to be used in academia and am happy to now say that there is a place for this.

The OER Collaboration area found on the main menu of this site will take you to the wiki. This wiki does currently require a separate log in as it is a different content management system than the current site and has different functionality for revisions. I have begun by uploading my course modules developed for Art History I and II, as well as including the modules I use for my Contemporary Art course that I teach occasionally at the Art Institute of Washington. I encourage comments, updates, and general feedback throughout these modules as we work together to make them great.

I also am requesting new directions for OER modules. The ones that I began developing still utilize the linear western perspective, thus we lack thematic modules, cultural modules, modules for special topics, or even modules focused on analyzing a single or comparing multiple works of art. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to the results of our efforts as remove ourselves from our individual silos and once again discuss our lectures as we had in the past in our now lost slide libraries.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015 15:30

Art History Study of Teaching and Learning Journal?

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It has come to my attention that there is concern regarding the lack of a specific journal on the study of teaching and learning specifically in art history. At the College Art Association conference 2015, in a session on the study of teaching and learning, it was noted that there are journals researching education, but nothing specific to our field of Art History. This came up in response to the growing need to defend the importance of scholarship in teaching and learning for review and tenure. 

I am currently putting together an Open Journal System extension to this site to get the ball rolling, but before that can progress, the journal will require editors, copy editors, peer-review managers, and a small army of volunteers willing to review manuscripts for publication. There is also the question of the necessity of such a journal and the reputation of the journal. Can the resources from the field of education provide transferable information? How might we become more aware of these studies in other fields and begin applying them to our own ways of thinking? Is there enough scholars in the field researching and looking to publish studies on teaching and learning in art history specifically?

I invite comments on these questions as I build out a transferable platform. I will say that there was interest from Beth Harris and Steven Zucker from SmartHistory, now under Khan Academy, and the SoTL group at the College Art Association. These stamps might add a level of repute to the initiative.

I just recently updated the website, upgrading the structure in an effort to expand and protect the content contained within. I hope that the new site operates and gains more traction. I also will be moving more into social media to push this dialogue further.

I am excited to be attending the College Art Association Conference in New York this upcoming week. I look forward to knowing that there are others interested in furthering the study of teaching and learning in Art History and the arts. As such, there are two events I will be excitedly attending among the other sessions that I will report on when I return:


Time: 02/11/2015, 12:30 PM—2:00 PM
Location: Hilton New York, 3rd Floor, Petit Trianon

Chairs: Leda Cempellin, South Dakota State University; Julia A. Sienkewicz, Duquesne University

  • SoTL: What Difference Does It Make?
    Andrea Pappas, Santa Clara University
  • A Skills-Based Approach to the Traditional Art History Survey
    Laetitia La Follette, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Turning 200 Students to Seven Million: What We’re Learning at Smarthistory at Khan Academy
    Beth Harris, Khan Academy; Steven Zucker, Khan Academy
  • SoTL, the Tenure Process, and Art History’s Scholarly Hierarchies
    Anne D’Alleva, University of Connecticut

I will be attending the focus groups being held by Pearson along with a dinner with authors Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren. It seems more instructors are interested in speaking about these issues and I am now currently working to direct these efforts toward finalizing my dissertation. Check back following the conference for an updated reflection on what I learned.

Friday, 21 March 2014 07:25

National Art Education Association 2014

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Spark! NAEA 2014


I would like to thank all of those who attended the National Art Education Association (NAEA) 2014 annual conference and especially my sessions on Monday. I delivered two sessions related to Art History pedagogy, Teaching Fails, and Gamifying Art History and Design. I am still encouraging others to become involved in this website by sharing, commenting, or questioning. I attended a few other sessions that were discussing many similar issues, and I hope that we can continue and expand this dialogue.

Click "Read More.." to view the links to my presentations and comment: 



Teaching Fails!:

The attachments are some of the documents that I use in these curricular designs.

Sunday, 13 October 2013 12:23

Virginia Art Education Association 2013

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Virginia Art Education Association Conference 2013


Josh Yavelberg will be speaking at this year's Virginia Art Education Association conference located in Falls Church, Virginia at the Fairview Park Mariott from October 31 through November 2nd, 2013. Yavelberg intends to speak on the topics of Art History survey pedagogical practices as well as concepts of integrating game theory into classroom management and design. More information and links to the conference presentations will be added to the site along with the handouts from the sessions.



111: Teaching Fails! Thursday 10-31-2013 from 12-12:50pm in Room McLean

An arts instructor shares attempts to integrate technology and alternative teaching methods into art history and foundations art courses and the challenges that arose. Open discussion is encouraged, come and expect to reflect on some of your own experiences and receive feedback in order to learn from your failures. (Presentation)

130: Questioning Art History Survey, Alternatives to "Art-in-the-Dark" Thursday 10-31-2013 from 3 to 3:50pm in Room Great Falls

Become a part of the discussion regarding pedagogical alternatives to the Art History Survey or Art History AP course. Following a heuristic research study, an instructor describes some pedagogical alternatives, the issues encountered, and perceived effectiveness for teaching the history of art. (Presentation)

214: Gamification of Design and Art History Friday 11-1-2013 from 8:50-9:40am in room Falls Church

After a redesign of my Art History survey course and my 2D Design Course, I wish to share with others some basic methods for bringing game theory to your classroom management and course designs that may increase engagement through both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. (Presentation) (Handout)

332: Questioning the Survey, Developing a Community of Practice Saturday 11-2-2013 from 1:50 to 2:40pm in room Arlington

The traditional Art History Survey course has been described as "Art-in-the-Dark." This session will describe some alternative pedagogical methods based on interviews with several faculty and encourages a continued conversation regarding other alternatives as we progress into the future through a newly developed community of practice. (Presentation)

It has been a week since returning from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference held in San Francisco, CA and my head is still reeling from all of the information that I was subject to throughout the week-long endeavor.  The conference spanned seven days, six hotels, and contained over two thousand sessions for the nearly fifteen thousand attendees. Needless to say, it was expansive with topics on everything that could ever relate to education and educational research.  I spend the majority of my time bouncing through technology sessions looking to gain a perspective on the latest buzz in technology, though I found that I was encountering many of the same discussions from last year’s panels.  It will be difficult to go into great detail on each session that I attended so I will summarize some of the interesting concepts that ended up in my notebook.

In sitting through many technology and design research panels, I found it important to look to several of their frameworks for assessing their learning platforms and consider ways that these may be applied to my personal practice and designs. The leading framework discussed was TPACK which utilizes a framework that looks within the context for the “Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge” (  Another framework that was discussed often was the community of inquiry framework for assessing the strength of a platform. This looks at the learning taking place in the form of “presence” broken down to “Teaching Presence,” “Social Presence,” and “Cognitive Presence” ( This model was extremely helpful for thinking through how I plan to engage students in my online classes, but can be used just as well when applied to the design of learning experiences in an on-ground classroom.  (See also, though I haven’t yet found the actual articles that these relate to: Anderson, Redmond, & Locke, 2006; Marshall & Rossman, 2011; Tracey, 2001) Finally, the Quality Matters Rubric was also discussed but scoffed for its price ( ).

There were also more researchers utilizing social network analysis in an attempt to better understand the interactions that take place in online environments. These visualizations are quite beautiful in themselves, but they shed light on the types of interactions that take place and how a social environment or classroom may be improved by leveraging certain “hubs.”These social network analyses along with the community of inquiry framework and previous discussions regarding massively open online courses (MOOCs) lead me to consider the importance of an online social presence and how students can become active as well in the teaching presence area by becoming peer facilitators to the discussions prompted within a course.


This continued in a dialogue that continued from last year’s conference regarding the levels of student involvement in online discussions by Alyssa Friend Wise from Simon Fraiser University. Her research, along with others in her team, has been on online dialogue and the ways that students interact in discussion forums. They developed a more visual discussion thread model that was being tested, but seemed to be utilized in a similar method to the current linear thread model, but more importantly, these researchers discussed the nature of “Speaking versus Listening.” This is a different way of thinking about the nature of online interactions which typically categorizes those not involved as “lurkers.” The notion of listening opens up the dialogue to consider that learning is actually happening as students listen, but to what level is that learning and is it on par with those that are engaged in the discussions? The main take-away from this discussion was that online discussions should be broken into smaller groups to make the dialogue more manageable and engaging.   

These discussions forced me to consider the concepts of online identity and digital literacies as social presences.  There are implications for online learning with regard to personalizing space and the notion of a digital self. There were many researchers who were struggling with the issues of the linear discussion threads, considering ways in which to make these threads more non-linear and representative of a true social environment.  Also, researchers were questioning the symbolic and visual nature of online learning, what is lost and how does the removal of the physical body from the information change the meaning of the research? How is identity related in an online environment?

Though there was little directly discussing topics such as art history or fine arts, there was one discussion by a group of museum educators combined with a researcher on engaging museum education.  From this, I saw some interesting learning environments developed by Maria Moritati ( , a discussion by Betsy DiSalvo (, The Center for Creative Connections from the Dallas Museum of Art (,  and a discussion regarding Walker Art Center’s Open Field Project (  This discussion put me onto the work of Falk, J.H. and Dierking, L.D. (1992) The Museum Experience,Matusov, E. and Rogoff, B. (1995) Evidence of development from people's participation in communities of learners, and the works of Starr who describe the museum as a cultural community and I began to wonder how this cultural community can be modeled within my own classroom.   Similarly, Thinkfinity ( provides resources for arts and arts integration in their engaging site.

What I really became more excited about was the concepts of gamification as I consider how to better engage my art history classes online and on-ground.  I was put onto quite a few resources to consider these ideas, but the essentials are to produce strong challenges broken up into accomplishable tasks that can be measurable to allow for an upward point progress system and the possibility of badges or levels to be gained along the way. These methods can foster greater collaboration and competition between students.  Some resources include Lee Shelden’s The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game, Gaming the Classroom (, Kapp’s The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, Penn State’s Educational Gaming Commons (, and Burton’s Media Group (

Sunday, 11 August 2013 12:12

No Textbook, What Will I Do?

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One of the universities that I teach at has begun a very radical initiative: "%100 eResources by 2015." The announcement from our chair made quite a few art history instructors uneasy. We teach a subject that has become reliant on the survey texts by Gardner, Janson, and Stockstad making it difficult for us to consider a different path. This seems like a daunting task for the traditional classroom; however, this school is also mostly online. Most courses are taught fully online. Students should be comfortable browsing the Internet and utilizing resources that we provide, and the move from a textbook may allow for more access to those students who have difficulty acquiring the textbook due to cost or geographic concerns. 

Where does one begin with designing an art history course without the treasured textbook? Through a sometimes heated discussion, the group came up with the following list of resources for the art history department:

These are some fair resources, but, in most senses, are not comparable to the classic survey texts that have been revised and updated throughout the years by leading scholars in the field of art history. Most of these resources seem effective at first glance, but most are not peer reviewed or are still developing, leaving holes to be filled. Is there one source I would recommend from this list, no, but is there a way to compile and design by pulling in the best portions from these and other eResources, my argument is yes.

I am currently working with my chair to design new modules for an online course that takes this 100% eResource model a reality. The time frame is short, so I am feverishly scouring the internet for more resources that I hope to share with not only my students but this community as well. If there are any suggested sources, I encourage comments so that we may grow this list and provide a rich resource for others tackling a similar initiative.