SmARThistory – A teaching aide for art history

The site smARThistory is a unique, growing resource that aims to be an enhancement, or even a replacement, for the traditional art history textbook.  It allows users to browse styles, artists, and themes in an easy to use interactive timeline.  Clicking on a work will bring up short podcasts lectures, flickr feeds and links to other resources related to the work.

smarthistory screenshot

The site was founded by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker of the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York.  The work is an outgrowth of multimedia materials and blogs they were already creating for their courses.

“For years we have been dissatisfied with the large expensive art history textbook. We found that they were difficult for many students, contained too many images, and just were not particularly engaging. In addition, we had found the web resources developed by publishers to be woefully uncreative. We had developed quite a bit of content for our online Western art history courses and we had also created many podcasts, and a few screencasts for our smARThistory blog. So, it finally occurred to us, why not use the personal voice that we use when we teach online, along with the multimedia we had already created for our blog and for our courses, to create a more engaging “web-book” that could be used in conjunction with art history survey courses. We are also committed to joining the growing number of teachers who make their content freely available on the web.”

The New Media Consortium’s 2009 Horizon Report, which looks at trends in uses of technology in teaching in higher education, cited smARThistory as an example of the “Personal Web”, a set of technologies that allow faculty, students and experts to easily build rich multimedia websites, e-books, and other resources.