Distance learning courses have for the most part made use of simple structures that focus on the juxtaposition of html texts with static visuals. Instruction in art history demands more. It requires a type of interaction described as performative triangulation, which naturally occurs in traditional art history face-to-face lecture courses. The authors contend that this type of performative triangle model, which consists of interaction between the audience, speaker, and image, is possible in an online art history course if animated interactive activities are provided to engage students in linking texts and images. This paper presents data from two studies conducted on interactive animations in an online art appreciation course. The first study compares student learning of identical content in a face-to-face lecture without an interactive component, a face-to-face lecture augmented by an animated interactions, and an html content module also augmented by an animated interactive. The data from this study suggests that learning occurred just as well, if not better, among students provided with the animated interactives as among students offered only the face-to-face lecture. The second study considers student perceptions of the animated interactions and assesses whether students believe that they learn from these tools. This data suggests that students view the animated interactions as assets to the learning experience.
Article originally appeared in: “Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer Enhanced Learning”, V. 7, n. 1, 2005. Republished with permission.