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The Online Art Series
Anne Arundel Community College

With the world’s most renowned masterpieces, from the Smithsonian to the Louvre, now available on the Web, the internet has expanded the visual world of learning and brought art and the meaning of art to a new level of distinction. From the humble beginning of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the internet has grown to be a worldwide broadcasting mechanism and visual medium for collaboration and interaction among individuals and computers, thus moving the world of art from the private collection or geographically fixed museum to everyman’s public resource and anyone’s desktop expression.

Art has been on the internet in some form since the internet’s inception. Before the web, art was shared via newsgroups and FTP (file transfer protocol) sites. ASCII art was a favorite among aficionados and was shared via email even before email could support attached image files. One of the major art collections that existed on the internet before web expansion was In the early 1990s, artists would collaborate creating works by taking each other's art and adding to it or manipulating the art to create new works. As the web emerged, art became an established medium of graphic and symbolic representation, and the use of browsers, such as Mosaic, brought color, clarity, and imaging to the text, titles, and links of web pages.

Beyond the presence of online collections, the traditional approach to art instruction – where gallery visits, demonstrations, and slide presentations are critical to the teaching and learning process – are lofty considerations for distance education delivery. Emulating similar and singular experiences and expressions of art in an online context and virtual format requires significant expertise and innovative instruction. Commercial, educational, and public websites rely on principles of art, media, and design, and these skills are critical to the growing demand for web designers and webmasters. Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) has developed a short series of courses focused on the traditions of art while integrating the emerging technologies of development, design, and delivery.

Program Description

Over the past few years, the Introduction To Graphic Arts (IGA) course at AACC has grown so popular that, in order to meet demand, it became necessary to explore alternate options of delivery. As a general requirement for the Media Production degree, the Graphic Arts Certificate, and the Technology Degree offered by the Computer Science Department, the IGA course has multiple demands and a diverse learning population. As a required course for three distinct programs, it is structured to give students a glimpse of the elements included in each industry field, and opportunities to develop design and production skills. In addition to multiple program requirements, the internet and web-development industries have expanded the need to create an online version. Emulating the same visual experience and content of the face-to-face course in an internet-based learning environment became a pressing demand at AACC.

In addition to developing an online version of the IGA course to serve multiple program demands for design and the graphic arts industry, AACC faculty recognized the opportunity to also convert the Media, Materials, and Processes (MMP) course to keep step with the web-based world of communications. Along with an introductory overview of industry standards, the course includes emerging ideas and new developments for the communications technology field. The online MMP course compares various media formats and production processes, while using a variety of technologies to analyze the communications process. It offers theoretical study through CD-based lectures, along with weekly chat sessions wherein faculty address questions, engage students in discussions, present new ideas, and encourage collaboration.

Blending theory and practice has been a gainful venture toward the course series’ success. Students develop sound and slide presentations, produce video presentations, and create individual websites to upload student examples for instructor and peer review. Through this exchange, students are able to see what others are doing and to get a chance to receive comments from their colleagues.

Additional examples of the learning experiences and exercises include

  1. Capturing video formats to create Quick Time movies,
  2. Expressive lettering using Adobe Illustrator,
  3. Analysis of a full-page ad using Adobe Illustrator,
  4. File-format assignments to distinguish the many different types of file formats and best options,
  5. Creating CD layout project using Photoshop, and
  6. Researching and developing an online graphic-design history paper.


Creating online courses that meet the rigors, experiences, and synergies of classroom learning is a challenge in a world where more abstract imagery, visual symbolism, and interpretation are fundamental objectives. The Online Art Series at Anne Arundel Community College– both Introduction to Graphic Arts and Media Materials Processes – includes assignments and lab projects that match the same learning objectives as the traditional classroom courses. The internet has enabled great changes in the ways we think, see, and learn. The Online Art Series at AACC has captured and built on these changes so that students no longer have to show up for class, but rather find, explore, and analyze art anywhere and anytime at their convenience and in their own lives.

For more information on The Online Art Series at Anne Arundel Community College contact Patricia Casey-Whiteman.

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