Title:2001: A Cyberspace Odyssey
Authors:Phyllis Hecht, Julie Springer
Publication:MW2002: Museums and the Web 2002

This presentation will review the goals, design, outcomes, and the challenges faced by the National Gallery of Art's first online technology initiative for K-12 educators--2001: A Cyberspace Odyssey. As an art museum with a national mandate, the Gallery has long offered educational resources through its Web site. Exhibition literature, virtual tours, teaching packets and activities, and other sources of information for teachers have been staples of the education section of the site. Cyberspace Odyssey, however, marks the first significant effort to provide online teaching resources that are designed by K-12 educators. The program also aims to strengthen teacher's skills and comfort level using technology, while incorporating art into their classroom instruction. The program was thus designed for teachers to explore the potential richness of online resources, to analyze and critique select sites focused on art and education, and establish criteria for good Web site content and design, before beginning to build their own projects. Participation was by application and twelve, three-member teams were selected. Half of these came to the Gallery for a six-day seminar in July 2001, while the other half received the same instruction in August. By the end of each six-day session, teams gave brief presentations on the direction of their projects. Each had a clear focus for their project, with a selection of potential art works from the permanent collections that would support their theme. Upon leaving Washington, teams were charged with continuing their collaboration with teammates through the completion of their Web projects in April of 2001. At that time a panel will select a few of the projects for further development as educational resources on the Gallery's Web site. To support their work in the interim, each team was provided with mentors with whom to consult about the content and technological development of their projects. A password-protected Web site was also established to support program participants, allowing easy reference to project guidelines and deadlines, links to educational resources, participants names and e-mail addresses, and separate work folders into which each team can submit the separate stages of their project.