Understand and build what we already have in place. We may be able to make progress more quickly than we might imagine.
The value of beginning steps and giving attention to low-hanging fruit (see column on the left) is evidenced in many profiles and essays in the LSC Guide. The importance of modest first steps, just making-do, becoming advocates for change is illustrated by the story of the evolution of the Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture at the University of Maryland College Park.
The faculty of the Art History Department at UMCP were eager to take advantage of the possibilities presented by new visual media for enhanced teaching and learning within their department.
The Under-utilized Resource: The Visual Resources Center, which housed the thousands of slides used in the traditional art history classroom.
As the department was transitioning to digital media, that space was becoming an informal collaboratory—where people gathered to share ideas and help each other deal with the challenges of teaching in a digital world. Although the need for different space was clear, the VRC staff quickly realized that these informal conversations and the informal tinkering with spaces was a positive and promising feature of the digital revolution, inspiring new and increased communication and collaboration across individuals and groups at many levels in the UMCP community.
Impact on learners and learning
In a course titled “Leonardo and the Science of Art,” science and engineering students, guided by an art history professor, explored the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci as a multi-talented scientist, inventor, and artist. With access to an array of technological resources and flexible space in which to move, these students built models, both physical and virtual, and created visual presentations of varying types. Their freedom to move about the space facilitated quick transitions from one activity to another.
University of Maryland College Park: Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture
Profile and Essay