This afternoon I will be liveblogging the MOOCs in Cultural Heritage Education event, being held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
As this is a liveblog please excuse any typos and do let me know if you spot any errors or if there are links or additional information that should be included.
Our programme for today is:
Welcome and Intro – Christopher Ganley (ARTIST ROOMS, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate)
Christopher is the learning and digital manager for the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. In case people here don’t know about Artist Rooms, this is a collection that came to Tate and NGS in 2008. Around 1100 items of art from Anthony d’Offay with the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the British and Scottish Governments. The remit was to be shared across the UK to engage new audiences, particularly young people. The collection has grown to around 1500 items now – Louise Bourgeois is one of the latest additions. The Artist Rooms Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle with Tate and NGS led by the University of Edinburgh. And today’s event is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and has been arranged by the University of Edinburgh School of Education as part of the outreach strand of their research.
Year of the MOOC?: what do Massive Open Online Courses have to offer the cultural heritage sector? – Sian Bayne, Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh)
Sian is beginning. Jen and I are going to situate the programme today. Jen and I are part of the School of Education working in Digital Education, and we are ourselves MOOC survivors!
We are going to talk about MOOCs in a higher education context, and our research there, and then talk about what that might mean for museums and the cultural heritage context. Jen will talk about the eLearning and Digital Culture MOOC and expand that out into discussing cultural heritage context.
So, what do we know about MOOCs? It’s a bit of a primer here:
- Massive: numbers. Largest we ran at Edinburgh had 100k students enrolled
- Open: no “entrance” requirements.
- Online: completely.
- Course: structured, cohort-based. And we don’t talk about that so much but they have a pedagogy, they have a structure, and that distinguishes them from other open education tools.
In terms of where MOOCs are run we have EdX – they have no cultural heritage partners yet. We have Coursera and they do have cultural heritage partners including MOMA. And FutureLearn who have cultural heritage partners yet (but not who are running courses yet).
The upsides of MOOCs is that they have massive reach, a really open field, high profile, massive energy, new partnerships. But on the downsides there are high risks, there are unproven teaching methods – and the pedagogy is still developing for this 1 teacher, 20k students kind of model, and there is a bit of a MOOC “backlash” as the offer begins to settle into mainstream after a lot of hype.
In terms of cultural heritage there isn;t a lot out there, and only on Coursera. American Museum of Natural History, MOMA, California Institute of the Arts and the new Artist Rooms MOOCs are there. Some interesting courses but it’s still early days, not many cultural heritage MOOCs out there.
So in terms of the UK Jen and I have just completed some research for the HEA on MOOC adoption. One aspect was which disciplines are represented in UK MOOCs. We are seeing a number of humanities and education MOOCs. FutureLearn have the most of these, then Coursera and then there are cMOOCs in various locations. In terms of the University of Edinburgh we launched our first MOOCs – 6 of them across 3 colleges – last January and were the first UK university to do so. This year we have 7 more in development, we have 600k enrollments across all of our MOOCs and sign ups for the Warhol MOOC is well past 10k already.
So why did we get involved? Well we have a strong and growing culture of digital education,. It was an obvious for us to take that step. There was a good strategic fit for our university and we felt it was something we should be doing, engaging in this exciting new pedagogical space. Certainly money wasn’t the motivator here.
MOOCs have been around for a while, and there is still some things to learn in terms of who takes them, who finishes them etc. And we’ve done some research on our courses. Here the Philosophy MOOC saw over 98k students but even our smallest MOOC – equine nutrition- saw a comparable number of registrations to our total on campus student body (of approx 30k). Of the 309k who enrolled about 29% of initially active learners “completed” with a range of 7 – 59% across the six courses. We think that’s pretty good considering that only about a third of those who signed up actually accessed the course – of course it’s easy to sign up for these and hard to find time to do them so we aren’t worried about that. The range of completion is interesting though. We had 200 countries represented in the MOOC sign ups. And age wise the demographic was dominated by 25-39 year olds. And we found most people who took the MOOCs, at least in the first round, mostly had a postgraduate degree already. They were the people interested in taking the MOOCs. And now over to Jen…
Jen. I want to tell you about the experience that lecturers and tutors had on the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC that took place last January. Firstly I wanted to talk about the xMOOC and the cMOOC. the xMOOC is the highly structured, quite linear, institutional MOOCs – the Coursera or FutureLearn model. Some peer interaction, but as a side benefit of the content as the main thing. Teacher presence in these sorts of MOOCs tends to be very high profile – the rock star tutor concept. You won’t meet them but you’ll see them on video. A lot. The other sort is the cMOOC, the connected MOOC. these were thought of by Canadians in 2012/13 before MOOCs became built. Around the theory of connected environments, participants create the course together, very loosely structured, very collaborative, very focused on participant contributions. Not about the rock star professors. This difference has been quite a big press thing, xMOOCs have had a bashing, people suggesting they are “elearning from 1998 minus the login button”. But actually what Sian and I have been finding is that in ANY MOOC we see much more than these two different forms. Our own MOOC is really neither an xMOOC or a cMOOC but had a lot of other content.
So our MOOC, #EDCMOOC, was based upon a module of the MSc in Digital Education module that generally has about 12-16 participants, and instead trying these ideas about the self in online environment in a MOOC format, at huge scale. So we decided rather than doing week by week lecture heavy format, we would do something different. Instead we did a “film festival” – clips for participants to watch and talk about. Then some readings on theory of digital education. And questions to discuss. We asked students to create public facing blogs which we linked to, we also used the built in discussion spaces. And instead of weekly tests etc. we had a single peer assessed “digital artefact” final assignment.
We gathered all blogs, which they had registered with us, in one place – so you could see any post tagged with #EDCMOOC. And we had a live hangout (via Google+ / YouTube) at the end of every few weeks – and we would pick up on discussions, questions that were coming up in those discussions and coming in live. The students themselves (42k of them) created a Facebook Group, a G+ group, used the hashtag but also these additional groups meant there was so much material being produced, so much discussion and activity beyond a scale anyone could keep up with. A hugely hectic space for five weeks, with everyone trying as best they could to keep an eye on their corner of the web.
Bonnie Stewart described our MOOC as “subverting it’s own conditions of existence”. And it was a chance to rethink that xMOOC/cMOOC divide. But also what the teacher is in a MOOC. What it means pedagogically to be in a MOOC. There are interesting generative questions that have come out of this experience.
So, I want to show you some examples of materials participants made on the MOOC. Students shared these on Padlet walls. We also had an image competition halfway through the MOOC. e.g. “All Lines are Open” by Mullu Lumbreras – the Tokyo underground map re-imagined with many “You are here” markers – emphasizing the noisiness of the MOOC! There were many reflective and reflexive posts about students trying to get to grips with the MOOC itself, as well as the content. There was such a variety of artefacts submitted here! There were images, videos, all sorts of assignments including super critical artefacts, such as Chris Jobling’s “In a MOOC no-one hears you leave” – although interestingly we did. There was also a chatbot assignment – allowing you to talk to “an EDCMOOC participant” and used comments from chats and from the course to give back comments, really interesting comment on the nature of the MOOC and the online environment. We also had a science fiction story all created in Second Life. This must have taken such a lot of time. We have found this on the MSc in Digital Education as well that when you give people the opportunity to create non textual assignments and contributions they give such creative and take such a lot of time over their multimodal work.
We also had – a nod for Artist Rooms colleagues – a Ruschagram tool as an assignment. And indeed people used their own experience or expertise to bring their own take to the MOOC. Artists created art, scientists drew on their own background. Amy Burbel – an artist who does lots of these online videos but this one was all about the EDCMOOC.
So I’d like to finish with some ideas and questions here for discussion… Elizabeth Merritt from the Centre for the Future of Museums asks about MOOCs in terms of impact. Rolin Moe talks about MOOCs as public engagement on a different scale. Erin Branham asks about reach – why wouldn’t you run a MOOC even if only 20k people finish. We have comments on that actually… David Greenfield emphasises the innovation aspect, they are still new, we are still learning and there is no one single way that MOOCs are being used. There is still a lot of space for innovation and new ideas.
Q1) I work at the Tate in visual arts, the idea of assessment by multiple choice is very appealing so I wanted to ask about peer assessment. How did that work? Did there need to be moderation?
A1 – Jen) It is quite controversial, that’s partly as the MOOC platform don’t handle peer assessment too well. We didn’t get asked too much to remark assignments. Peer assessment can work extremely well if the group know each other or share a common understanding.
A1 – Sian) It was strange how assessment focused many people were for a non credit bearing course though, they wanted to know how to pass the MOOC.
Q2) I wanted to ask about the drop out which looked absolutely huge…
A2 – Sian) You mean people who didn’t begin to engage with the MOOC? It is problematic… there has been a lot of criticism around drop outs. But we have been looking at them from a traditional education point of view. MOOCs are free, they come in, they sample, they leave. It’s about shifting our understanding of what MOOCs are for.
Q2) What did you learn from that…?
A2) I think it would be too hasty to make too many conclusions about that drop off because of what it means to be in a MOOC
A2 – Jen) there is some interesting research on intentions at sign up. Around 60% of people signing up do not intend to complete the MOOC. I don’t think we will ever get 90% retention like we do on our online MSc. But Sian’s point here holds. Different demographics are interested for different reasons. Retention on the smaller equine science MOOC was much more about the participant interest rather than the content or pedagogy etc. The 7% retention rate was the more innovative assessment project.
Q3) We would love to have that data on drop outs. We aren’t allowed to fail at that rate in public. I work in the National Library of Scotland and we know that there is “library anxiety”. I would hate to think this is a group with inflated library anxiety!
A3) Absolutely and I know there will be more on this later on. But its about expectation setting within the organisation.
Q3) Just getting that data though – especially the research on those who don’t want to complete – would be so valuable for managing and understanding that completion in open contexts.
Q4) Perhaps the count should be from the first session, not from those who sign up. It’s not the original email we are concerned with but the regular drop out which would be more concerning. We get people doing this with on site free experiences. This is more about engaging with the higher up decision makers and marketing about how we could use MOOCs in cultural heritage.
A4 – Sian) It was unfortunate that many of the MOOCs really marketed sign up rates, and inflated expectations from that, as a way to promote the MOOCs early on. Very unhelpful to have messages like “we want this one to hit a million sign ups!”
Q5) These aren’t credit bearing but are there MOOCs which are, how do they work?
A5 – Jen) Quite new territory. Some allow you to have some sort of credit at the end of the MOOC on payment of a fee. And some – including University of Central Lancashire – are trialling MOOC credit counting for something. Work at European level there too. But no one has cracked the magic bullet.
A5 – Sian) Two offering credit so far – one at Oxford Brookes, one at Edge Hill.
Q5) Maybe credit will appeal to those currently absent from the demographic profile – moving to those with few or no higher level qualifications
A5 – Sian) we did ask people about why they did the MOOC, many for fun, some for professional reasons. none for credit.
Q6) what are the indirect benefits of the programme?
A6 – Sian) We have had five or six people enrolling on the MSc as a direct result of the MOOC. We also got great publicity for being at the forefront of digital education which is great for the University. That indirect benefit won’t last of course as MOOCs get more mainstream but
A7 – Sian) 40 days academic staff time to develop, 40 days to deliver it. And that doesn’t include the Information Services staff time to set up the technology, In terms of participants I’m not sure we have that data
A7 – Jen) We kind of have it but it’s taking a long time to analyze it. You get a lot of data from the MOOCs. There is a whole field of learning analytics. We have the data from both runs of the MOOC but it’s hard to find the best way to do that.
Q7) Interesting, for people reflecting on their own time investment
A7) We gave guide time of 5-6 hours per week for the basic involvement but actually many people spent a lot of time on it. And there was a lot of content so it took that long to read and engage with it for many participants.
Q8) How do you assess 40k people?
A8 – Sian) Well that’s why we spent a lot of time trying to make the assessment criteria clear for people marking each other.
Q9) Can you say a bit more about xMOOCs and cMOOCs. A lot seem to be xMOOCs?
A9) There is a lot of discussion around how to go beyond the bounds of the xMOOC.
A9 – Sian) Our MOOC was seen as quite innovative as we were a bit of a hybrid, but a lot of that was about participants using social media and just having a hashtag made a difference.
Q9) So are there people trying to move out of the platform…
A9 – Jen) for the credit and microcredit courses you try to bring students into the MOOC platform as that is easier to measure. And that’s an area that is really becoming more prominent…
A9 – Sian) Would be sad is the move towards learning analytics took away the social media interactions in MOOCs.
A9 – Jen) We do see AI MOOCs where there is some opportunity to tailor content which is interesting…
Comment) Can see these working well for CPD.
:: Update: Jen and Sian’s Prezi can be viewed online here ::
The changing landscape of teaching online: a MoMA perspective – Deborah Howes (Museum of Modern Art)
It is a pleasure for me to tell you just a little bit about what has been going on at MOMA, especially having to spoken to just a few of you – I realise you are very savvy digital education, cultural education audience.
I like to start with this slide when I talk about online learning at MOMA – of MoMA education broadcasts in the 1950s. We have always been interested in technology. It is part of our mission statement to educate (the world) about the art of our time. This image is from the 1950s when MoMA had an advanced idea of how to teach art and creativity – and they invited TV crews in from Rockafeller Centre to record some of what was going on in terms of that education.
So online learning for MoMA can be as something as simple as an Online Google Hang Out working with seniors who go on a field trip once a month without them having to leave their apartment – they have a museum visit and discussing the art. Some have mobility issues, some have learning disabilities. But they have these amazing opportunities to visit and engage all the time for free. We use Google Hangouts a lot and this is an example that really hits home.
This example, like much of what I’ll talk about today, isn’t strictly a MOOC but it’s from that same open online concept and the MOOC is changing. However we have, at MoMA been running online courses since 2010. These are NOT MOOCs as we charge for them. You can take them in two ways. You can be self led and there is no teacher responding to you and there are no students but you go at your pace whenever you want. Or you can do the teacher led version with a teacher, with fellow students, with responses to your comments. We started the concept of starting these courses. We did this with Faith Harris, who now works at Khan Academy, and she was teaching online in the New York Museum of Fashion. She had a clear idea of what the format was – a structured course led by an educator. We did a studio course – how to paint – to see if that would work. That seemed such an usual idea at the time but they are really popular, especially as an instructor led experience. They like to see and share progression and to get feedback on that. Just like a real studio experience. So the “how to” videos, one of the things we tried to replicate online was the feel of exclusivity you have in an on-site course. If you enrol in person you get to paint in our studio then you get access to the galleries when no-one else is around. So here we have Corey Dogstein and he’s also an artist, the students love him, but you can see this video of how to paint like Jackson Pollock and really get into that free form, jazz playing vibe.
My previous role I came from a gallery where I had no idea who was doing my tour, or what they were getting from it, then I was in an academic place where I knew who everyone was, how they were progressing, assessing them etc. So in this role the online teaching experience has been really interesting. In particular taking out the temporarility and those barriers to speak up, you open up the accessibility to a much much wider audience. The range of learning difficulties that students come in with and feel able to participate online, that wouldn’t feel able to participate as fully in person is striking.
We use a course management system called Haiku. No matter what you do it looks like a bad high school newspaper. It organises content top to bottom, welcome messages, etc. 60% of our students to the MoMA online course have never taken an online course before. They tell us they’d rather try it with us! We have a lot of first timers so we have to provide a lot of help and support. We try to make them engaging and lively. The upside of the highly controlled space is that the teachers themselves are making these courses, it’s easy for them to change things, that’s the upside.
We try to think thematically about content, rather than thinking academically along a timeline say. So colour as a way to explore modern art came to mind, and also broadens the base beyond painting and sculpture – design and architecture for instance. So this way we can interview the curator of design, Paula Antonelli, on colour in design. [we are watching a clip of this]. Talk about exclusivity! Even on my 11 o’clock tour I couldn’t get you time with Paula. The students really respond to this. And we also created videos of the preservation techniques around colour.
This course: “Catalysts: Artists creating with sound, video and time” brings all those ideas together, and is a hybrid xMOOC and cMOOC although I only just realised this! We got the author Randall Packer to put this history together using artefacts and resources from MOOCs. It’s so hard to do this history – why read a book on the history of video artworks?! As an educator how many museums have the space to show a whole range of video art? Even at the new Tate underground you have a rotating collection. Rare to have an ongoing historical way to explore these. One of the reasons MoMA was able to jump into online courses feet first, is that Volkswagen are a corporate sponsor of the galleries and were keenly supportive. And as part of teaching the Catalyst course Randall, who is also a practicing artist, thought it would be great if we could get students to make and share work, wouldn’t it be great to make a WordPress blog they could use to share these and comment on each other. And my colleague Jonathan Epstein suggested digital badges – they get a MoMA badge on their blog and badges for LinkedIn profiles etc.
So, over three and half years we’ve registed about 2500 students. Small versus MOOCs but huge for us. Around 30% of enrolees are not from the US and that 30% represents over 60 countries. For us it was about engaging people in a sustained way with people who couldn’t come to MoMA or couldn’t come often to MoMA, and we really think we’ve proved these. This is one of those pause moments for us… so, any questions…
Q1) That quote on your slide “the combination of compelling lectures with the online galery tours and the interaction with the other students from around the world was really enlightening and provocative” – what do you learn from these participants?
A1) We do find students who set up ongoing Facebook groups for instance, and they are really active for a long time, they will go on a trip and write to their peers about what they’ve seen. We learn whilst they take the course, but also over time. What is so hard for museums to learn is what the long term impact of a museum visit… there is no way to know what happens months or years later, or when they are at another gallery… But you get a sense of that on the Facebook groups.
Q2) At the moment it’s $25 to come into MoMA. How much are the courses?
A2) It is. But it’s a sliding scale of prices. For self-led courses… 5 weeks is $99 if you are a member. or $150 for a non member (of the museum) 10 week course. For instructor led it’s $150 to $350 per course depending on time etc. They may fluctuate, probably go down. I like the idea of a cost recovery model. Free is hard for me as instructor. But there is a lot of free stuff, and especially in the MOOC world, they are comparing what’s available, what the brand is worth, which is worth doing.
A3) Of the museum. Typically at the museum you get lots of discounts, free entry etc. as part of that. I think it’s about $75 for an individual membership right now and that’s part of a wider financial ecosystem I don’t get into too much.
So… we have all these courses… We got contacted by Coursera who said “oh sorry we can’t take your courses as you don’t award degrees” but here is a sandbox for K-12 for you. In fact MoMA does a huge amount for teachers. We had just done a huge new site called MoMA Learning with resources for all sorts of classes. So we thought, well this will be our textbook essentially. If we leave it there we don’t need to renogiate all the content again. So we decided to do a four week “art and inquiry” MOOC. There is a huge focus in the core curriculum on discussions around primary source materials, we do a lot of training of teachers but we can’t fit enough of them in our building. We have taught a class for teachers around the country, perhaps beyond, who come for a week in the summer and talk about inquiry based learning. It just so happened when this came together that we were the first MOOC in the primary and secondary education sandbox – I think that has everything to do with why we had 17k ish participants. We had a “huge” engagement ratio according to Coursera, they told us we were off the charts – people are watching the videos “all the way to the end!”. Huge validation for us, but if you think carefully about all the ways people are learning that satisfy them, people look for something to engage with – and museum educators are great at this, great at finding different ways to explain the same thing.
At the end of the course we had a survey. 60% were teachers. The rest were taking the course for different reasons – doctors wanting to talk about x-ray results better with patients. 90% of all those who answered the survey had not been to MoMA or had an online MoMA experience but they did visit the website or site afterwards. We had more friends, we had people following and engaging with our social media. It was a wonderful way to have people access and engage with MoMA who might now have thought to before.
So I have a diagram of MOOC students. It is kind of Ying-Yang. The paid for courses tend to be my age or older, highly educated, have been to many international galleries. Coursera they are 20-30 year olds, it’s about their career, they take lots of Coursera courses. And what struck us was that putting our content beyond the virtual museum walls, people really want to engage with it. In the museum we want people coming to us, to speak to us, but here they don’t visit us at all but they still want to engage.
We had 1500 students get a certificate of completion. In MoMA we have 3 million admissions per year. I have no idea how many take that information with them. For me as a museum professional 17k people made an effort to learn something about MoMA, word is out, and I taught 1500 teachers in the way I would like to in an academic way, and I taught more than I could teach over three years, but in one single summer. And the success of that means we have followed up with another MOOC – Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art. The first one runs again soon, this new course runs from July.
There are a few other things we do online… MoMA Teens Online Course Pilot. This was a free 5 week course in art appreciation at MoMA. These were teens that had taken probably all our teen courses as part of after school programmes. They brought back to us this Real World MoMA episode. [very very funny and well full of art in-jokes].
You get the idea right? I should just let the teens do all the videos! We have a new group of teens coming in doing a completely different thing. This is their medium, they understand. They combine the popular with the collection in an unforgettable way, the kids will never forget these five artists they focused on.
I just want to go through some pedagogical background here. There is a huge body of really interesting reseach on how the brain works, what makes memories… One of the things I always try to think about is what makes your brain remember, and why a museum is such a great way to learn. So one thing that is that you learn when something new comes in – a new sight, a new sound, a new smell… Museums are like that. They are new experiences. For children they may never have been to a museum or even to the city before. I try to make the online courses take that into consideration. How can we do that, and make the brain hold on to what it being learnt?
I don’t know if Howard Gardner is familiar to you? His ideas that different brains work differently, and that we need to present material in different ways for different people. We have hands on aspects. We have scientist experts, we have critics… we try to present a range of ways into the material.
So here also is some student feedback – the idea that there is more in the course than can be absorbed but that that is a good thing. We also try to ensure there are peer to peer aspects – to enable sharing and discussion. So here we have the learning communities from that studio course – where participants share their art… increadible learning experiences and incredible learning communities can exist beyond the museum and beyond the university but it is great to be there to support those communities – to answer questions, share a link etc.
I wrote a post you might like: moma.org/blog search for “how to make online courses for museums”
Moving forward we have a couple of hundred videos on YouTube but we were asked if we would put these into Khan Academy. We filtered the best down, gave them embed codes, and they have created a structure around that. As a museum you don’t have to do everything here, but reusing is powerful.
And moving forward we are doing some collaborations with the University of Melbourne.
And my forcast for Museum-University Partnerships forecase? Sunny with a chance of rain! There are real challenges around contracts, ownership etc. but we can get to a place of all sunny all the time.
Q1) We would be developing online learning as a new thing. When you decided to go down the online route did you stop anything else? Did you restructure time? How does that fit with curator duties?
A1) We didn’t drop anything. The Volkswagen sponsorship allowed us to build the team from myself and an intern to include another individual. But it’s a huge time commitment. Curators don’t have the time to teach but they are happy to talk to camera and are generally very good at it. I was at John Hopkins, and previously to that at the Metropolitan Museum… I was used to having media equipment to hand. There wasn’t that at MoMA but we created a small studio which makes it easy for curators to pop in and contribute.
Q2) Could you say a bit about the difference of practical versus appreciation type class?
A2) for practical classes the key is *really* good videos. Being able to replay those videos, if shot well, is really helpful and clears up questions. It lets them feel comfortable without asking the teacher over and over again. If you’ve ever been in a group critique that can be really intimidating… turns out that the level of distance of photographing your work, post online, and discuss online… students feel much better about that. There is distance they can take. They can throw things at the wall at home as they get critiqued! It is popular and now online you find a lot of low price and free how to courses. But our students who return it’s about the visits to the gallery, the history of the gallery, connecting the thinking and the artwork to the technique
Q2) So unspoken assumptions of supplies available?
A2) No, we give them a supply list. We tell them how to set up a studio in their own bedroom etc. We don’t make assumptions there.
Beyond the Object: MOOCs and Art History – Glyn Davis (University of Edinburgh)
Our final speaker is one of the “rock star lecturers” Jen mentioned!
So, in comparison to the other speakers here the course I have been preparing has not yet run. We have just under 12000 signed up so far, we anticipate around 20k mark. I am an academic and I teach film studies, particularly experimental cinema. A lot of the films I talk about it can be hugely hard for people to get hold of. That presents massive difficulties for me as a researcher, as a writer, but also for these sorts of learning experiences.
Where I want to start is to talk about Andy Warhol. A book, Warhol in Ten Takes, edited by myself and Gary Needham at Nottingham Trent University. We start with an introduction about seeing a piece called “does Warhol make you cry?” at MoMA – and he was at the time. So many rights to negotiate. That book is solely about Andy Warhol’s cinematic work, focusing on 10 films in detail. Those that are newly available from the archive, those where there was something new to be said. He only made films for five years – making 650 movies in that time. A lot even in comparison to Roger Corman (5 a year or so). Some are a few minutes long, some many hours. The enormous challenge was that in 1972 Warhol took all of his films out of circulation – he wanted to focus on painting, he was getting sued a lot by collaborators who wanted money from them. And they remained that way. Just before his death he said “my movies are more interesting to talk about than they are to watch”. He may have been joking but that sense has hung around studies of his work. Take a film like “Empire” (1964) it’s a conceptual piece – 8 hours and, in terms of content, time passes and it gets dark – has been little shown. Very few of his films are in circulation. MoMA has around 40 circulation copies available but that’s a rare place you can see them, you can see screenings at the Celeste Bartos screening rooms. The only other place to see them is at the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh on VHS. If not that its 16mm. You can’t pause or rewatch. It’s cold. It’s really hard to do Warhol research… so many pirate copies also out there…
So are his films worth seeing or are they just conceptual pieces? Since the films have started to come out of the archives films like Empire have been shown in their entirity… people then discuss the experience of sitting through all of them. Indeed in his PhD thesis (Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis), Justin Remeselnik suggests they are “furniture films” – you can admire and engage with them but not to be paid attention to for an increadibly long time… and yet in Pamela Lee’s book Chronophobia talks about seeing Empire the whole way through, as a phenomenological record of pain it’s fairly incredible. She’s not alone here… another writer, Mark Leach, asked an audience to provide live tweeting during a screening of Empire, and then compiled these into the book #Empirefilm.
This is a long diversion but… Gary Needham and I tried to think hard about the experience of the Factory and the working environment there, what was it like to see Warhol’s films in the context of other experimental filmmakers in the 1960s. In trying to put together a MOOC these ideas sat with me, as the rights negotiations for the book took place over 18 months. We had 30 new images created – we had to apply for grants to get these made, rather than reproduced – by the Warhol museum. We had materials from BFI. We were able to use publicity materials as well. And we had to get agreements from so many people. The Whitney Museum has a Warhol Film Project and acted as our fact checker. It’s a 500k word book so that took some time. One of Warhol’s assistants, Gerard Malanga, allowed us to use his diary entries in the book. I came to Warhol knowing the rights access issues. And I came to the MOOC knowing those issues, knowing the possible time lag…
Chris provided a great introduction to Artist Rooms earlier. I head up the Art and it’s Histories strand. Sian and Jen head up the education strand but I work with artist historians and theorists doing research projects around the materials. So making a MOOC was an idea we thought about as a way to bring out Warhol to a wider audience, and to highlight the Artist Rooms content. I had a lot of questions though and I knew we could not use moving images at all. Could we talk about Warhol’s work without images or clips? What does that mean? Can we assume that people taking the course might source or be able to watch those things. I’ve been teaching Warhol for 15-20 years. I can show all manner of images and clips to students for teaching which are fine to use in that context but which would be impossible to use online for copyright and provenance reasons.
So, there are roughly 250 Warhol pieces in the Artist Rooms collections. There are particular strengths there. There are a great number of posters, as Anthony d’Offay said to me, these give a great overview of events during his lifestyle. There are also stitched photographs – another strength – and these are from the end of Warhol’s career. There are not many so to have a number to compare to each other is great. There are also early illustrations and commercial works. And there are self portraits from the early to mid 80’s. So for me how do I put together a course on Andy Warhol based on this collection? His most famous work is all from about 1962 to 1966. These pieces are silk screens of Monroe, Electric chairs, guns, Campbells soup cans. They are hugely expensive and not in the collection. But are these so familiar that I can assume those taking the course will know them. But the other partners in Artist Rooms – from the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate – that did cover some of this famous 1960s material, to sex up the course a bit!
So this let us take shape. This will be a five week course. Each week will be a video lecture from me (sex, death, celebrity, money, time) and then a video interview who have worked with Warhol’s work in one way or another – curators, academics, conservators etc. Who could give a fresh perspective on Warhol and what he means to them. I’ll come back to them shortly.
I’ve talked about Warhol’s ubiquity and that’s been an issue as we finalised materials, looked at editing videos. Warhol is one of the most well known artists in the world. His images circulate so widely on such a range of objects (maybe only exceeded by the Mona Lisa) that familiarity with them is high. You can buy just about everything – from mugs to skateboards… the Warhol story is extraordinary. What’s really interesting for anyone teaching art history or theory is that he provides a really interesting test case with regards to reproduction and distribution.
For instance the Marilyn Diptych ( Andy Warhol, 1962). This was based on a publicity still for the 1953 film Niagara which he cropped to his liking. He started to make works just after her suicide in 1962. They have been described as work in mourning. And they are important examples of pop art, collapsing the worlds of art and pop culture. But also commenting on the mass media reproduction of imagery. The uneven application across this piece suggest the blurring of images in newspapers, and the important difference between similar reproductions. Thomas Crow (in his essay for Art in America (May 1987), “Saturday Disasters: Trace and Reference in Early Warhol”) writes that Marilyn disappears quickly when you look at this work, what becomes clearer is the blurrings, the paint level variations. But I have been using this image to teach with Walter Benjamin’s essay on mass production in relation to art work. His essential argument is that endless reproduction, owning of facsimiles etc. changes our relation to the original. It could seem less valuable… or more valuable… as we have seen with Warhol’s work. And Warhol’s own work is a reproduction itself of course. And his painting is the valuable thing… not the press still…
Being able to talk about this work and reproduction through the MOOC and the digital format adds another layer. MOOCs raise the question of what the use of gallery visits may be. What’s the difference of talking about a work and engaging with the original piece. The process of art or art history has always involved travel to galleries, biennials, festivals. Writing about it means seeing the work, there are financial angles there, there are green angles there. For example I am going to Newcastle for three days to see “Crude Oil” (Wang Bang, 2008). It is a 14 hour movie, you can only see it in installation. I intend to move in… my husband thinks I’m mad!
And what about the experience of engaging with the stuff here. I spent three days at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh preparing for the MOOC watching to VHS, speaking to staff, and also looking at Warhol’s “time capsules” – receipts, ephemera, e.g. a box from 1978 is just “Concorde stuff”. I was accompanied by a curator, they opened boxes for me… some smelled bad due to moldy stuff, exploded soup cans, a still-inflated silly birthday cake which was a present from Yoko Ono. They are treated as art works. They are still cataloguing these things. So I spoke to the curators about how they are making the time capsules educationally engaging. They have video of celebrities going through them, for instance John Waters gives a great critique of one of the time capsules. They did a live opening, streamed to the ICA, of one of the time capsules. I mention these because these were really interesting examples of opening this type of content and artist up to others.
Let me just say a bit about how we have made the videos for the MOOC. My colleague Lucy Kendra who had filmed other MOOC content saw this filming experience as unusually immediate and intimate in form. We spoke to curators and conservators at the galleries, Gary at Nottingham, and Anthony d’Offay himself. We were also given access behind the scenes at the Tate Store – they took out 10 pieces as a backdrop which was so valuable. We had interviews of an hour, an hour and a half. We have so much materials. For the Warhol class there will be a required 10 minute version of the video, but we will then give a longer, possible unexpurgated, videos for those that want to see them the whole way through. These are fantastic and extraordinary videos. I think they are fantastic representations of these institutions but I think it may open the doors to careers in some of these roles. We hope they may open doors in ways other art education courses may not do.
These interviews I could not have forseen, but they have become the bedrock of the course, the USP, the main draw, and these first time perspectives on the artist and his career. Why Warhol is still of interest and the personal interests of the interviewees themselves. We started by thinking the issue would be about content and rights but the interviews have gone beyond the object there.
Q1) Will there be assessment at the end? Will they be assessed by peers.
A1) Yes, I think there has to be for Coursera. I have PhD student Teaching Assistants. I have left some of those decisions to them. They have suggested allowing practical responses to the materials – to get a sense of materials and present day materials, contemporary approach. Or a short written text, a 2-300 word response to a work of their choosing – perhaps from Artist Rooms or perhaps another. These are great TAs though with ideas like building a map of the nearest Andy Warhol to the participant, opening up possible discussion of access. Peers will assess the work and this is where drawing on the expertise of colleagues who have run MOOCs before is so valuable.
Q2) When we did our MOOC we had an easier rights time but we really wanted to use films that it was hard to find legal clips to… we avoided anything we knew was of dubious origins. But we found students sharing those clips and images anyway! What do you plan to do with that?
A2) As far as I know the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh are well aware that material leaks out… if our participants link to those things we can’t help that. We just create that distance and leave that in the students hands.
Comment – Debs) I feel your pain entirely! In addition to the academic excellence issue, at MoMA part of our job is about preserving the identity of the work, of the artists in our collections. We can’t distribute unofficial copies of works by artists in our collection, it wouldn’t look good. And yet… we were one of the first museums to go to Electronic Arts Intermix about using video online. They’d never really been approached to digitalise their works in that sort of context. The first person I spoke to was extremely pessimistic about these once-cutting edge technology using artists works being able to share these works online. We were able to say that in the environment of this course – a limited course, not a MOOC, we have a lot of details on them – it is very comparible to the classroom. We stream it and although you probably could capture the content but most won’t. They were OK with this. We got Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, etc. allowing us to stream the content. It was costly… but I hope as we push these boundaries more the artists and rights holders will go with that. Otherwise we will have a loss to art history and accessing this hard to reach art. That arguement of the most famous work being the most visible already is one I’ve used before, I hope that rings true.
Q3) Do you have specific goals – educational or a specific combination of enrolees – for this MOOC?
A3) There are two or three key goals. Part was a partnership between the university, the Tate and National Galleries. And part of that was about trying a MOOC as a way to do that. It might be that the Tate or National Galleries want to use one of those interviews somewhere else too. For me it is also about trying a new tool, and what is possible with that. I am interested in testing the boundaries of what Coursera will do.
Q4) With the MOOCs which you have completed… with hindsight now is there a lot that you would do differently?
A4 – Deb) Not a lot but… with the videos I wish we had done differently. I wish we had done them straight without “last week you did X”, or interviews with curators etc. I wish I had had the insight to bring in the right people or to make it more long term useful.
A4 – Sian) for our second run we did make changes. We refused to make videos the first time, we were being hard line. But the dominent comment online were “where are the professors” and “where are the videos” so we made introductory videos for each week. That was the most significant change.
And with that a really interesting afternoon is complete with thanks to organiser Claire Wright, and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for providing funding for the event.
Find out more
- More images from today’s event can be found on Flickr.
- View the full programme on the Eventbrite page for MOOCs in Cultural Heritage Education.
- Find out more about the Artist Rooms Collection, and the Research Partnership of the National Galleries of Scotland, The Tate, the University of Edinburgh, and the sponsors of this event, the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- Explore the University of Edinburgh MOOCs
- Browse Jen and Sian’s Prezi here.
- Find out more about Jen and Sian’s E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (#EDCMOOC)
- Read the participant #EDCMOOC Blogs and the teaching team’s reflections on Teaching the #EDCMOOC.
- Find out more about MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- Explore the MoMA Online courses
- Sign up for the MoMA MOOCs that Deb talked about – aimed at K-12 teachers.
- Browse the MoMA Learning, the website for K-12 teachers which is the “textbook” for the associated MOOCs.
- Explore MoMA Teens – the programme that generated the amazing Pop Art Real World video (sadly not online at the moment).
- Deb Howes’ How to Make Online Courses for Museums blog post, as mentioned in her talk.
- Find out more about Glyn’s book on Warhol.
- Download #EmpireFilm – a book of livetweets from a full 8 hour screening of Warhol’s Empire.
- Explore the Andy Warhol Museum.
- Watch John Waters open an Andy Warhol Time Capsule.
- Sign up for Glyn’s Warhol MOOC