italy study abroad

melon vine logo with the duomo in florence added at the top

May 14-May 31, 2004


The opportunity to attend the "Study Abroad in Italy, Art Education" summer session came as I began work on my culminating project for my MAed. It couldn't have come at a better time. After spending the last three years with my head in books, going to Italy to observe a highly succcessful community sponsored school system in action and real art is just what I needed.

There were twleve in our group from East Carolina University including the professor, her husband, myself, another grad student and eight undergrad students. We traveled by air to Roma and then by train to Pistoia, Firenze and back to Roma.

In Pistoia we observed three seperate community sponsored preschools, Firenze and Roma were the usual mad tour of every inch of art and history possible per day.

Experience and personal narratives/stories are two very important and effective teaching methods in adult education. I took the opportunity to set up a research project with the students to learn more about how experience and personal narratives impacts learning. The students co-operated in a plan to divide the sites we would visit and do some initial research on the sites, share their research online with the group via a black board forum before we left and again as an introduction as we experienced each site or art work first hand. I took my video camera and documented the activities along the way. I filmed the students as they shared a short relfection about their experiences. I asked them to compare seeing the art work and historical sites first hand to their impressions from studying it in a book. I also asked how their experiences impacted their own art work.

Back from our trip, I began editing the documentation and publishing them as short films on this site. It required further research on several of the sites. I found that I had an increased my appreciation of them as I reflected on the research and video together.

The video documentation is useful in several ways. I become more familiar with the students level of development which is useful in planning and assessment. It enabled me review the student's reflection again at my convenience.Thoughtful planning could be based on the interests and questions apparent from the documentation.

The students may find their reflections helpful as well. It provides more time for them to review the art work and historical sites, prepare more research and increase their understanding of their experiences. Field trips and study abroad trips usually don't permit enough time in a museum or at a beautiful piece of architecture for a thourough aesthetic experience. Video documentation can help enrich that experience for the students. An online resource like this also allows a large group of students to compare and review the experiences from the perspective of their peers at their convenience.

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