Back in the early days of the Web, if an art teacher wanted to exhibit his or her students’ work on the Web it required learning HTML code and finding server space to store your files on the Web. The first publication of student artwork on the Web was a virtual gallery called ArtSpace (now archived) that was created in 1994 by Karen Hellyer an art teacher at University Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois, with assistance by Usama Hajj, a student at the school. Today, Karen (a former student of mine) teaches Studio and Digital Art at the Bay School of San Francisco.
I was thinking of Karen’s site as I browsed several websites over the past two days that display student/children’s art. There are, of course, many more options today for an art teacher interested in showing student work on the Web. Here’s a quick rundown of eight options (at no cost) with examples.
1. Use your district or school website. In many districts and schools, Webmasters or technology specialists work with teachers to post curriculum materials and student work on the district or school Web server. Some art teachers prefer this approach because they don’t have to deal with the technical issues of creating and uploading the files. On the other hand, you typically give up control over how the work is shown on the Web and when it will get displayed. For examples, see the Ontario School District (Oregon) website and the Roanoke County Public Schools (Virginia) website.
2. Create a department website with desktop software. Creating your own department website using Dreamweaver or some other desktop web-authoring software program is another option. Check out the websites for Auchinleck Academy Art and Design (East Ayrshire, Scotland), Harvard-Westlake Middle School’s Visual Arts Department (Studio City, California) the American School of Bombay (Mumbai, India), and Kris Fontes (Union City High School in Union City, Pennsylvania) for excellent examples.
3. Create a department website using a web template site. Instead of using desktop software to create your website, there are a number of free Web-template sites available online. For example, Google Sites and Weebly.Com both allow you to easily and quickly create a website using available templates, point-and-click, and drag-and-drop methods. I don’t have any school sites to share with you here, but I did create the Art Education 2.0 Annex with Google Sites and Angela V. Christopher, Tennessee Elementary Art teacher, created a personal website/blog with Weebly.com. So, you can at least see what sites can look like using those online services.
4. Set up a blog. Since blogs are so easy to set up, manage, and update, they have become a popular alternative to creating a website to publish school materials online. With free blogging sites like Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress.com, you can have your own blog up and running on the Web within a matter of ten minutes or less. For examples, check out the blogs of Ann Gray, Kim Sajan, Jeff Hall, Tim Needles, and Anne Pfeiffer.
5. Use a media-sharing site like Flickr, YouTube, or TeacherTube to post images or videos of student work. One of the benefits of using a public media-sharing site is that students’ work is exposed to a wider audience than typically occurs with a school-based website. This raises the authenticity of the learning experience by putting the work out in a public realm. Knowing that people everywhere will see their work online inspires students to work hard at creating polished presentations. Also, most of these public sites offer the option of allowing for comments from Web visitors. Some schools and teachers embrace these opportunities, whereas others are fearful of possible negative repercussions and block these sites from school use all together.
Once your students’ work is uploaded to Flickr, you also have the option of using a free slide-show viewer like Pictobrowser or Blow-up to display your Flickr images on your blog or website. For example, I recently used Pictobrowser to display 52 images of ATCs (wait a moment for the images to load on the bottom of the page) created for the Olympic ATC Exchange that are stored on my Flickr account. You can also, of course, embed student-made videos in your blog that have been uploaded to youTube, TeacherTube, or just about any other video-sharing site.
For examples of art programs that post student work to Flickr, see the photostreams of Darien Public Schools’ Art Department (Connecticut) and Fortismere Secondary School’s Art & Photography Department (North London), which also posts student work to Blip.tv. Other examples worth mentioning here include Graffiti Zone’s photostream and YouTube channel, plus Tricia Fuglestad’s TeacherTube page, art teacher at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
6. Post to sites that invite submissions of student artwork. There are a number of sites that solicit submissions of student and children’s artwork from teachers, parents, and students themselves. One that I came across recently that was a delight to browse through is THEBLOG WEEMADE. Although there doesn’t appear to be any specific guidelines or age limits regarding what can be posted, the majority of the work I viewed on the site was from age 7 and younger. What I like about this site is not only the ingenuity exhibited in the children’s artwork, but also its simplicity in the way the work is displayed on the site. No ads or commercial pitches compete for your attention, the children’s work takes center stage.
Two other sites that look promising are Saatchi Gallery (London, UK) that showcases work by art students all over the globe in the Stuart section of its website and offers teachers everywhere the opportunity to create a school portfolio to display their students’ work plus rtkids whose aim is to offer a national exhibition space for school and college children’s artwork throughout Great Britain.
7. Participate in contests that exhibit student work on the Web. Some art teachers choose not to have their students get involved in art contests, whereas others have their students participate frequently. Those in the latter category will find a number of sponsored art contests for their students to take part in that typically display the winning entries on the Web. For example, Sakura of America sponsors an annual cray-pa contest for students in the elementary and middle school grades. In the Houston, Texas area there is an annual Culture Shapers Visual Art Contest sponsored by local businessmen and women for area high school students. Of course, there is also the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards that many U.S. high school art teachers and students participate in every year.
8. Post your students’ work to Artsonia. I left perhaps the most popular option among art teachers today, which is to register on Artsonia and then create your own galleries of student artwork. Artsonia, the world’s largest kids’ art museum, offers a wide range of educational services to support art teachers on the site along with a number of choices for parents to purchase their children’s work on clothing, mugs, mouse pads, and so on. If you take issue with the commercial aspects of Artsonia, as some art teachers do, I encourage you to consider one of the other options mentioned above.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you can think of (or have tried) a different option for displaying student artwork on the Web that I’ve failed to mention here.