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Digital Slides a Reality

You may remember, a while back, that I referred to the death rattle of the slide projector. For someone looking at teaching A. P. Art History again this year, that news is cause for both rejoicing and trepidation. I had already started using some digital images, stored in a school laptop, to supplement our aging and incomplete slide collection, but the organization and presentation can be a hassle. Our analog slides are, many of them, faded and ugly, but how can a teacher hope to replace them all in the middle of teaching a course that requires so many of them?

An article (For Art History Scholars, Illumination Is a Click Away, August 14) by Karen W. Arenson for the New York Times discusses what might be the answer:

A vast digital library of world art has gone online with its first 300,000 images. The project — known as ARTstor and financed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — could eventually revolutionize the way art history is taught and studied. It is available for nonprofit institutions only. The way technology has been able to transform education is remarkable, said Neil Rudenstine, the former Harvard University president who is now chairman of ARTstor. "That only happens, if you are lucky, once a century."

Marguerite A. Keane, an adjunct lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, certainly feels lucky. Using ARTstor last spring during its test phase, Ms. Keane said she was able to assemble all the images for her semester-long course, "Introduction to Art History," in a few hours, the time it normally takes to gather slides for one class. If a student referred to a picture, she could usually locate it immediately and show it in class, zooming in on any details she wanted. "It was extraordinary," she said.
I must get my hands on this technology immediately. I still have a few weeks before classes begin, so ARTstor is on my to-do list.

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