MoMA’s Art and Inquiry

Figure by Varvara Stepanova

I’m half-way through my first MOOC, and I am so happy I picked a good one. Last semester, one of my classes considered MOOCs for different ages and types of learners, and during my investigation and learning I saw that the Museum of Modern Art in New York offered an “Art and Inquiry” course about using objects to initiate inquiry learning. They had me at Inquiry Learning. Combine inquiry with modern art–I could not resist.

There were a few reasons I should not have signed up–we just moved (again) and are still getting on solid ground here in Georgia; I am in my final hectic semester of library school; and, well, there is just a lot going on in our lives right now. Because of the potential hurdles to staying focused, and because I know that the follow-through statistics for MOOCs are staggeringly low (check out Measuring the MOOC Dropout Rate from Inside Higher Ed to see just how low), I decided to sign up for Coursera’s Signature Track to keep myself accountable for finishing.

So far, the biggest benefit and biggest challenge of this MOOC are one and the same–the sheer amount of people I’m connecting with. The discussion boards are massive, and I have had to employ the discussion board search function to find my way to posts relevant to my focus in the course. Additionally, the way students connect via social media outside of the course has been much different that I expected. I’ve been surprised at how few of us utilize the #artinquiry hashtag on Twitter. I was also surprised at the robust discussion related to the course taking place on LinkdIn, a tool I hadn’t before used as a social media platform.

My Top Take-Aways so far?

  1. Don’t settle for boring. When the answer to a question is unpredictable, students are challenged and engaged.
  2. Don’t let context kill inquiry. Let students seek out information. Giving them too much information too soon robs students of the experience to meaningfully create their own connections.
  3. Meaning goes beyond the intent of the creator. We each create new context with a work of art or literature with every interaction.
  4. Explode students’ learning. Sometimes wrapping things up at the end of a lesson is appropriate. MoMA School Programs Educator Lisa Libicki suggests something different to inspire students to further inquiry. Libicki suggests ending a lesson with a question that “explodes students’ learning” and leaves them wanting more.

I am beginning work on my Final Project this morning– a K-6 professional development lesson focused on supporting an inquiry approach to incorporating visual literacy across elementary curriculum. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck!

And, click the link below to access the artwork featured above–and the rest of MoMA’s amazing online collection.

Figure by Varvara Stepanova from MoMA’s Collection.