Venice is now open!

This afternoon was the opening of the online exhibit created by the members of Professor Marjorie Och’s upper-level Art History Seminar on Venice. The semester was dedicated to researching the rich art history of the “City of Water”, and they tracked their research and discussion over the last fifteen weeks in a course space here (and there has been some great discussion there as of late—check out the Billboard posts). Over the last two weeks they have created a site which acts as both an exhibit and a kind of course publication wherein you can read first hand the work they have been doing on topics ranging from Titian;s Altarpieces to Early Modern Women’s Clothing to Conserving Venice to the Venice Biennale. But the homepage of the online exhibit sums it up best:

This site offers visitors the opportunity to see our students’ research on this remarkable city in a format we have referred to as our online exhibit. An actual exhibit on the city of Venice is clearly impossible — one could never transport the Grand Canal or Palazzo Ducale into a museum space. But technology allows us to bring together different aspects of the city, its visual culture, and history in a format where we can discuss the great palazzi along the Grand Canal or the magnificent space in front of San Marco.

And while we still have to put up the timeline and add some links between sections of the students “wall panels” (I take full responsibility for this oversight), it’s an impressive display of a seminar course coming together to share their research and frame a broader examination of a cultural treasure like the city of Venice as a series of individual efforts cultivated and fostered by a group examination of a topic. Bravo tutti!

Also, I have to give a special shout out to Katherine Ahrens research blog, she was constantly tracking and sharing her work, and seemed to have a lot of fun in the process which made reading her work that much more enjoyable. Plus, as an added bonus, she included some really cool pictures of her recent trip to Venice.

Katabasis: A Journey through a Virtual Course Space

Image of Katabasis site Professor Angela Gosetti’s course blog for her “Katabasis in Myth and Film” Freshman seminar has been one of the most fun, active and engaged spaces on UMW Blogs I have yet to see. If you don’t know what katabasis means (kinda like me before following this course), it’s from the Greek and generally means a “descent”, but more specifically denotes a journey downwards into Hades. And with more than 200 posts and 250+ comments—many of which are far longer than the original post—it has been an absolutely fascinating journey through which to witness the life of the mind unfold. Professor Gosetti’s success with this space for generating a group-based discussion for a seminar course is remarkable, and the course blog also provided a platform for all kinds of sharing of web resources throughout the semester. Impressively conceived and executed, you should ask Angela about the thinking behind this one!

Also, be sure to take a look at the creative final projects using all kinds of media, such as an impressive list of films featuring a Katbasis, still photography, a “Choose your own adventure” website, some inspired, artwork, a look at Katabasis in the film Groundhog Day, and much, much more.

Bio Blogs, an experiment in mass syndication

Professor Michael Killian’s “The Bio Blog” is a pretty impressive endeavor that collects and categorizes the posts of over 70 students in his Introduction to Biological Concepts (Biol 121) course. Every student maintained his or her own blog and their posts were tagged according to the section they were part of, which allowed for both an aggregation and categorization of posts in the main blog by section number, student, and most recent posts. But, more importantly, the experiment provided a space where students could actually work through the concepts they were learning about using the innumerable resources all over the web.

An excellent example is the “Bio Tech Rap” song titled “Transformation” performed by the Notorious GFP which was linked to by a student in order to illustrate the process of transforming DNA. The ways in which students are re-framing and performing these complex biological concepts within a pop culture context is fascinating stuff. Also, don’t miss the bio jokes, here is my favorite.

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