Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2008

Enhancing Education through Collaborative Digitization

Amanda Hurford and Jim Bradley
Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer; and Head of Metadata and Digital Initiatives, Ball State University

In 2005, the Ball State Virtual Art Gallery was established to record and display the talents of current and former Ball State University (BSU) sculptors, painters, photographers, video animators, and mixed media artists. The collection is the product of a unique collaborative digitization opportunity between the BSU Libraries, the Ball State Department of Art, and the BSU Museum of Art.

Using state of the art equipment and software, the metadata and digital initiatives department of BSU Libraries preserves artworks that are selected as outstanding examples of student achievement by Department of Art faculty or by special exhibition jurors. The original intent of the collection was to create a public showcase of student work, as well as to provide a method for students to quickly and simply assemble a portfolio of their artwork. However, as the collection grows larger, unexpected practical uses continue to emerge.

Instructors have found the collection valuable as a demonstrative tool – displaying works created in their classes as an embellishment of their tenure review materials, grant applications, or exhibition proposals. Student artworks can be also called up by instructors for classroom use, spurring creativity in current students by demonstrating how previous artists have interpreted and completed a particular assignment. Additionally, the Ball State Virtual Art Gallery may be used as recruitment tool for the Department of Art, assuring prospective students an online presence and electronic portfolio.

Nicole Cardassilaris, visual resource manager and gallery associate at BSU, agreed this collection is a great way to publicize the Department of Art and its student talent. “It's a valuable marketing tool,” said Cardassilaris. “People can look at the work of the cream of the crop at Ball State.” She also spoke of the informative aspects of the collection. “It can better prepare incoming freshman, because here they get a feel for the caliber and level of the assignments.”

Since the collection is part of the Digital Media Repository, it can be made accessible through a variety of search engines and information portals via the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). This is one aspect of partnering with the library that Cardassilaris greatly appreciated. “As the Art Department grows,” she said, “new programs can be advertised through Google.”

Two years after its inception, the Ball State Virtual Art Gallery has grown to several hundred examples of student artwork, and shows no sign of slowing down. The collaborative nature of this project will allow the continued documentation and representation of the talents of BSU's artists for many years to come.

For more information, contact Amanda Hurford.