The Digital Transition

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“The Digital Transition: Perspectives from Art Historians,” issue of the VRA Bulletin asks, “Does the use of digital tools change the way art historians teach and do research? Does it change the way students learn? Has our professional preoccupation with the creation of (funding of, development of, staffing for, training for) digital tools clouded our view of the ultimate use?” Art historians in a range of different fields address these pedagogical questions in six essays. Anne Leader and Jeffery Schrader address issues in teaching using digital media and technology. Mark Trowbridge, Sarah Johnson and Erik Gustafson describe the impact of changes in research methods on fields of study. Finally Elizabeth Williams pays homage to the all but abandoned use of slides.

As a scholar who’s study began after the 1990s the time when Johnson describes, digital technologies as taking hold, I found these professors perspectives to be quite interesting (p. 13). Johnson continues on to explain, “some [scholarly] tasks are greatly simplified and expanded by the digital environment; others require huge investments of time, resources, vision and new technical skills. Future design historians’ jobs will be radically different, and hopefully the field can be developed by harnessing new technologies, even if they are not all created equally” (16-17). These are all important considerations as I begin my teaching career.

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