Will Vaughan

Not a Universal Course

First, the group agreed that we were not seeking to establish or propose a universal course that could be delivered at different places. There were both ideological and practical reasons that militated against this.

Ideologically, it seemed that the construction of a universal course would be too restrictive, particularly in a subject area that was constantly developing and changing and where there were many different ways of interpreting and teaching material.

Practically, it would be impossible to deliver a universal course when the institutions and courses in which the subject area is taught are so diverse.

Provision of Courseware

On the other hand, it does seem practical and desirable to promote the development of courseware which can be used by different institutions in different ways in their work. Work is already going on in the construction of such courseware in a number of institutions, particularly those that have expertise in distance learning, such as the Open University in Britain, and the Bergen Distance Learning Project in Norway.

Areas in such work might be most fruitfully be provided are those which deal with areas of the subject that require the acquisition of precise and relatively uncontroversial information. One clear example would be one or more courses on techniques used for the construction of works of art and related artefacts. There could be an introduction to architectural methods and terms, to processes for making sculptures, paintings, prints and the like. Not only do these areas require a certain degree of factual learning - of the kind required, for example in learning languages or anatomy. They are also appropriate for self-test processes that can be easily implemented using IT.

Current Practice

It will be one of the tasks of the working party to make a thorough report on current practice. The following observations are to be seen as a preliminary to this.

There seems as yet to be relatively little systematic development of curricula using IT methods in the History of Art, except for in places where it is combined with other subjects (for example at the University of Leiden?). There are many cases of individual teachers developing stand-alone courses, particularly in the United States. One famous example is that of Professor George Landow at Brown University, who supervised the construction of a hypertext environment for teaching Victorian Art. In Britain Birkbeck College and the Open University are constructing an 'Introduction to Art History' CD-ROM. But this will not be fully operational for another year at least.

More common is the provision of support material for teaching, as in the case of making digitised images available for study in relationship to a specific course. This is done frequently in the United States with large-scale lecture series - as in the case of Professor Vincent Scully's Survey of Twentieth Century Architecture at Yale University.

Exemplary Case

Because experience with IT-driven curricula is so sporadic and varied in the History of Art, it seems important that practices in other subjects are explored to see how useful they might be at providing models.

Invitation for Participation

This is also an area in which participation will be invited. The working party is aware that its knowledge of curricula development is not comprehensive and they would welcome contributions here, particularly with a view to identify exemplary models.