Information Age Education Blog

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The Google Art Project

Google continues to develop powerful aids to teaching, learning, and education. Recently I read the following article:

Croxall, B. (2/8/2011). Getting started with Google Art Project. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2/14/2010 from

At the current time, Google Art Project is a partnership between Google and 17 of the world’s premier museums. The project is summarized by the following quoted material from the website:

  • Explore the Museum with Street View: Google has brought Street View, which we all first encountered on Google Maps to the museums. In each museum, there are select galleries in which where you can virtually move about. You can turn in full circles and not only see the art but see each artwork in its context: where “context” can be read as its frame, the museum’s architecture, and the other works of art that surround it.
  • Get Up Close and Personal with the Artwork: In addition to Google’s own 360-degree views, the museums have provided Google with digital images of select works of art. But these aren’t just any old images—they’re very high quality, allowing the viewer to get much closer to the art than you could ever get in real life. And in the case of 17 images (one from each institution), the museum has provided gigapixel (i.e., 7,000 megapixel) versions of an artwork. The detail of something like Van Gogh’s The Starry Night has to be seen to be believed. In addition to the amazing scans, Art Project provides catalog details, viewing notes, links to other works by the artist in Art Project, and links to relevant YouTube videos about the work.
  • Build Your Own Collection: Art Project also allows users to curate their own collections. Once you’ve logged in to Art Project using a Google Account (such as Gmail), you can save specific views of an art work—either the full object or a zoomed in detail.

The accompanying 3-minute video provides a good illustration of what the project has done so far. I was reminded of a time a few years back when I served on a University of Oregon committee that helped to disperse funds to support various computer technology projects proposed by faculty members. A couple of the proposals were for computerization of very large slide sets (think in terms of 20,000 to 30,000 individual slides per faculty member) that the faculty members used in teaching various art and architecture courses.

Now, of course, there are huge collections of such artwork available on the Web, and many faculty members have computerized their personal collections. The Google Art Project is a step forward from a relatively static slide collection. It helps to bring to life the experience of visiting great art museums. While this is not yet a “live” virtual reality, it is a step in that direction.

What You Can Do

You know that the message sent is not necessarily the message received. You, for example, have “constructed” a personal meaning to my message given above. My overall intent is to provide you with some information and ideas that you will act upon in a manner that leads to improving our informal and formal educational systems.

So, pause for a few seconds and think about the meaning you have constructed from my message and some possible action that you might take based on this meaning. What occurs to you that you, personally, will try out in your quest to improve our educational system? Will you help your art-oriented colleagues learn about this new Google Art Project?

Final Remarks

Spend a bit of time reflecting on what you have just read. How does the information fit in with your current knowledge, beliefs, and activities? How can you make use of the information to help improve our informal and formal educational systems? Who do you know that might benefit from reading this IAE Blog entry?

If the IAE Blog entries are useful to you, then consider signing up for a Free Subscription. (See the menu on the left side of the page.) You will automatically receive email about new postings to the IAE Blog. Typically, there are about three new postings per week.

Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications

You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.

Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.

Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.

Distance education and distance learning: a vision of the future of education. IAE Newsletter - Issue 25, September 2009.

Open Content Libraries.

The multiple academic cultures faced by an elementary school teacher.




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