Art education goes global in a virtual world

Art history students

Art history students
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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A world first online art history program offered by the University of Adelaide and the Art Gallery of South Australia is setting a new benchmark for online learning.

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts (Studies in Art History) program are taken through a virtual tour of the Gallery's most exquisite art collections, discovering Australian, Indigenous, Japanese and European Art from the comfort of their lounge room.

Program co-ordinator Associate Professor Catherine Speck said the Masters program is the only online course in the world that covers all four art subject areas, combining academic and professional expertise and delivered via sophisticated technology.

Since first offered in 2010, the online art history program has developed to include a mixture of online audio-narrated lectures, real-time virtual tutorials, and more than 40 videos featuring artists and curators.

"We have students in Asia, Canada and throughout Australia who are logging in to our virtual classrooms examining works of art that are not accessible to the general public," Assoc Prof Speck said.

"They are also able to view one of the world's largest online Indigenous public collections at the Art Gallery of South Australia."

One third of the online course is taught by Art Gallery of South Australia staff.

Project Curator at the Gallery, Lisa Slade, described the joint delivered program as "the perfect balance of academe and art world".

"Imagine the richness and rarity of the Gallery as a classroom, both live and virtual," she said.

The only criterion for the course is an undergraduate degree in any discipline.

New students are given an intensive introduction to online technology and local students attend an induction day involving a tour of both the University and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

"The feedback we have had from the students about this course is extraordinary," Assoc Prof Speck said. "It is not only the content that is a drawcard, but the flexibility and practical nature of the course is a big attraction."

Graduates from the last 12 months have gone on to work in curatorial positions, media and marketing and sponsorship.

Enrolments for the 2012 courses close soon. For more information go to


Contact Details

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762

Associate Professor Catherine Speck
School of History and Politics
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5746

Marika Lucas
Senior Publicist
Art Gallery of South Australia