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e-Learning Institute Named 2010 Campus Technology Innovator

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Campus Technology magazine has named the College of Arts and Architecture's e-Learning Institute a 2010 Campus Technology Innovator for its development of the Assignment Studio, a virtual studio for art instruction that has reached more than 4,300 Penn State students since 2005. Keith Bailey, director of the e-Learning Institute, was the project leader for the Assignment Studio, which is being honored in the Teaching and Learning category. It is one of only 11 projects out of 500 entries selected for the Campus Technology Innovator award, which will be presented at the Campus Technology 2010 conference, to be held July 19–22 in Boston. The Assignment Studio is an innovative approach to teaching online, studio-based art courses that was assembled using an open-source technology. Development began in 2005 in response to the Penn State School of Visual Arts’ desire to offer a traditional studio art course online without sacrificing the essential nature of studio-based art instruction. The e-Learning Institute replicated various aspects of the studio approach, including instructor demonstrations, student critiques, submission of work for instructor feedback, and private, prompt grading through the use of interactive, online rubrics. In addition, the course had to be designed in such a way to accommodate future higher enrollments without significantly increasing faculty workload. “Our guiding philosophy was to provide an equivalent experience for students unable to study in a physical studio,” said Bailey. “By developing a virtual experience for students, our goal is to create a studio-based environment that extends past the time of a traditional face-to-face studio approach.” The Assignment Studio is dynamically structured, with students creating virtual “gallery” spaces for each of their assignments. They then “exhibit” their artwork to the class by digitizing and uploading images of their work to the appropriate gallery spaces, along with artistically descriptive narratives. Students are required to view and critique one another’s work online, and are encouraged to utilize the critiques and make modifications to their work prior to final submission. Final artwork submissions are privately reviewed and graded by the instructor using assignment-specific rubrics designed to evaluate the students’ performance based on a pre-determined set of criteria. To date, the Assignment Studio has been used in six courses, accounting for 97 course offerings. A new version of the Assignment Studio was integrated as the central resource for the launch of the School of Visual Arts’ online Digital Arts Certificate program. For more information on this and other e-Learning Institute projects, visit http://elearning.psu.edu. Contact: Amy Milgrub Marshall, alm157@psu.edu