An interesting posting on Fast Company last week discussed a new interactive art reference website known as smARThistory. The site is an ongoing effort by Beth Harris, MoMA's director of digital learning, and Steven Zucker, graduate-studies dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology to create an engaging "web-book" to enhance traditional art history courses.
The project began in 2005 after years of dissatisfaction with large and expensive art history textbooks and has evolved into an intuitive reference website that features an interactive timeline with images that link to podcasts and screen-casts. The podcasts and screen-casts are recorded by Harris and Zucker and include spontaneous discussion about the works of art, which they have found to be more compelling to students than monologue. On the website, Harris and Zucker explain that their efforts are "a first step toward understanding how art history can fit into the new collaborative culture created by web 2.0 technologies."
The posting on Fast Company goes on to discuss how virtual textbooks like smARThistory could greatly benefit other disciplines such as math and science with the use of animated illustrations. As we move towards a more collaborative learning culture and more content becomes free via the web, stores must consider their role in this change.