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Author Biography: Lori Fuller Rusch is an adjunct professor of Art History in the greater Los Angeles area teaching

at Citrus College, Rio Hondo College, and as a lecturer at Cal State LA. She is self-described as a freeway flyer looking for her forever home. Ruschs research interests are based in the connections between the Mexican Muralists and Los Angeles regional art created during the 1930s WPA program and the direct correlation to 21st century street art. She was author of a successful grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the restoration of a WPA wall relief by Donal Hord in a South Pasadena middle school. Rusch is passionate about teaching and art and admitted fell in to the tech ed world accidently as the result of a less than satisfying introduction to teaching on line courses. Activity Summary
High school arts magnet students create a virtual 5000 mile field trip using social media tools including Face Book and SKYPE to prepare and execute a long distance interview with Cambridge Scholar Dr. Nigel Spivey. Class or subject area: Art History Grade level(s): 9-12 but could apply to any level students Specific learning objectives: Provide a student driven activity in order to interview an internationally acclaimed Cambridge scholar (subject matter expert). Brainstorming, writing, editing, public speaking (speech writing and delivery), documentation of interview. Successful and appropriate navigation of social media tools including Facebook, SKYPE.(safe and effective use of technology for secondary students).

Anniversary Book Project


By: Lori Rusch

How Students in Los Angeles Met a Classics Scholar in London

The 5000-Mile Field Trip:

Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact:

Abstract Social media can provide a no cost, interactive environment for critical thinking and learning. Facebook and SKYPE were the primary tools utilized for conducting a live interview with a Cambridge scholar by secondary students. Background/Problem For four years I taught a college credit art history class at an arts magnet high school located on a state college campus. My students were visual artists that took a full traditional academic course load in addition to 12 hours a week of studio classes. I was assigned to teach world art history during the 2 &1/2 hours studio block and relied heavily on documentary films to reinforce our class lectures and discussions. During our first learning unit on prehistoric art I showed several episode from the How Art Made The World series featuring Cambridge Classics scholar Dr. Nigel Spivey. My students, in a word, became obsessed with Dr. Spivey. Spiveys science based analysis of why humans are compelled to make art, combined with his engaging demeanor left my students wanting more. Weeks after we had moved on from discussion of early mans art I was still hearing about Nigel on a daily basis. I needed a way to give my students more than a mere video could provide so I suggested they write him a letter that I would then forward via email. Two of my most enthusiastic students composed a letter to Dr. Spivey on their metro link commute telling him about our class and asking if he would participate in a video chat. I forwarded the letter to Dr. Spivey and with in a very few days he responded. The class was ecstatic in his affirmative response to their query and it was now my responsibility to make the technical arraignments required to conduct a video interview. Solution How hard could it be to secure a 100-seat classroom with live video capabilities and tech support at a state university of 30,000? I came to find out over the course of the next few months that it was, in a word, impossible. I was also faced with the dilemma of creating a student lead activity that I needed to supervise while having no means of communication with my students outside of our regular class time. Additionally I met with resistance with my supervisor, who doubted my students interest in the project. Social media provided the solutions to our problems. Since I was not on the regular faculty at the school I had no access to the teacher web pages. My only communication tool was through my personal email account. Email would not provide the platform for

collaboration that this project would require. After thoughtful consideration (most educators would not go near Face book for a very real fear of negative carrier repercussions) I decided to create a Face Book page for my students. This was a tool they were very familiar with, and I would able to monitor easily. Though Facebook the students submitted their purposed questions for Dr. Spivey. They also, much to my delight, self-edited! Student were also able to create awareness and build enthusiasm for the upcoming interview by posting copies of the publicity posters they made, and by announcing lunch time film festivals where we gathered to view the How Art Made the World series again. It is interesting to note that in the four years since I created the Facebook page for my students, I only needed to remove one untoward post. Current and former students stay connected and become informed on the latest developments in Art History via our Exquisite Corps Facebook page. The next problem to be solved involved the technical and physical logistics of the interview itself. After repeated failed attempts to secure a classroom wired for video conferencing I attended the Mobile Ed Conference at Pasadena City College where I sat in on a SKYPE call with a tech expert. Coincidently the speaker was in London, as was our Dr. Spivey. I was sure I could master SKYPE and thought Dr. Spivey could as well. The planning processes mentioned about took over six months to resolve and finally in the just a few weeks before the end of the school year the day of the interview arrived. Our project continued to meet with ambivalence from the school, one supervisor insisted that students would not come early to school on a late state day. They recommended I make it mandatory, because if I didnt I would only have a hand full of students show up. I knew better! When I arrived at 7:30 for our 9:00 am (Los Angeles time/5:00 pm London time) SKYPE call I was greeted by a dozed students sitting on the floor outside the locked classroom. One student even dressed like Dr. Spivey does in the documentary! Ultimately we had 75 students and parents show up. I did a fast test call to make sure our interview with Dr. Spivey would go off without a hitch. The students were so excited as the anticipation had been building for months, I could not let them down. Finally, the moment arrived when Dr. Spivey said Hello Lori and we saw his face pop up on the screen, and the students gasped with delight. What proceeded was a 45 minutes substantive interview. The students who had prepared the questions in advance had the option of presenting them themselves or having others do so for them.

Dr. Spivey was very engaging and the students were thrilled with his responses. Some students even came up with spontaneous follow up questions. We thanked Dr. Spivey for his time, wished him a good weekend and logged off SKYPE. The students were jubilant, and I was as thrilled as I was relieved. Shortly after the interview I received a congratulatory email from a parent who had come to listen to the interview. She mentioned how rare it was for young people to show the kind of passion and enthusiasm for an academic that is usually reserved for figures from popular culture. I feel so fortunate to have been able to facilitate this kind of learning. My students realized that their academic idol was as down to earth as they come and more importantly that he was interested in them. He was after all a teacher! Conclusion The use of social media in the classroom continues to gain acceptance in the secondary and post secondary academic world. Where as four years ago it was rare, even risky, to communicate with minor students via Facebook, I know of many educators who keep class pages now. If you mention the word Twitter to an academic today you be probably be met with rolling of the eyes. But I am sure that very shortly educators will be more willing to explore the multiple options for learning that social media can provide. As educators of 21st century digital natives we must continue to strive to speak their language. SKYPE and Facebook were the perfect no cost tools for our virtual field trip to London. Students utilized their critical thinking skills, polished interrogatory question writing, self and peer editing, advertising, and public speaking all facilitated by no cost social media. The potential for small group work at the post secondary level is great, as are the applications for primary and secondary students as well. These simple tools and techniques could be applied to any age students from any discipline.

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