Adapting Object-Based learning for the Virtual Classroom - Transcript

Teaching online or bimodally in the arts and humanities requires us to re-think how we deliver object-based learning, especially for modules focused on an understanding and analysis of materials and processes of making.

Our programme (Art History) traditionally relies on access to museum objects for teaching these topics. However, as teaching moved online in the pandemic, we instead identified household objects that we could use: things we were confident students would have access to; that would still allow them to learn about materials and processes; and develop the requisite skills and knowledge to meet our intended learning outcomes.

For example, our module Object and Medium looks at the material and process of making photos and films. Rather than use historical collections, students worked in groups to make their own on their smart phones and shared them with each other for analysis through our VLP (Canvas).

Group work was key: it encouraged critical analysis and reflection; students in diverse living situations could complete the task; and different sorts of learners could participate in peer discussion, which is crucial in an online environment that can become isolating.

After the task, nearly all of our students reported that making their own ‘objects’ improved their understanding of the materials and processes they study (91%), and that that making their own work led them to feel more confident in their ability to analyse these sorts of objects in general (85%). 

This approach to object-based learning is therefore very successful in helping students develop the analytic skills and knowledge they need, as well as building collegiality in the virtual classroom.

As we move back to in-person or blended teaching, we continue to use virtual object-based learning as part of a flipped classroom.