Last spring, crowds of teenagers were let loose in Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum of Art. No tour guides, no shushing teachers, just kids following their curiosity through the galleries. As they roamed, they used smartphones and tablets to upload images of the artworks into personalized, virtual exhibits they would later display to their fellow students.
It was a field trip with a tech-y twist: For weeks leading up to the museum visit, these same kids had explored these same works of art on a social-media website, where they also posted sketches, ideas and peer critiques in preparation for their own art projects.
Hoping to spark creativity and give students a real taste of the artistic process, art teachers from 16 high schools across the state had signed up their students for this pilot project, which museum staffers dubbed a “flipped field trip.” Called “Artists in Process,” it was loosely based on the model of the “flipped classroom,” in which teachers assign online reading, YouTube lectures and other digital resources as homework to cover facts, figures, dates and other basic information, then students spend class time in deeper discussions, analysis and collaborative projects.
“Our challenge was to make the museum experience active, engaging and personal for all students,” said Emily Kotecki, the museum’s distance-learning educator. “Art isn’t one size fits all.”
Working with a company called Odigia that designs online learning platforms, the museum created a social-media site stocked with images from its collections, video interviews with artists and discussion questions, all tied to one of three themes — identity, place, and storytelling.