Teaching art history from slide carousels might be a thing of a past, but the transition into digital doesn’t have to be difficult for faculty or students. Modern-age students now expect learning to be easily accessible, interactive and align clearly with the reading materials. Introducing MindTap—where those expectations are met through an approachable learning experience in a clearly organized digital format.

Art History faculty at Genesee Community College have found that MindTap helps develop a unified teaching approach between multiple faculty teaching different course sections—especially when bridging traditional and online courses. GCC has integrated MindTap into most of our Art History courses at this point—we’d be lying if we said it hasn’t been a work in progress. I look forward to sharing some of the training and transitional steps that have worked for our faculty below.

Leverage the Power of Hands-On Digital Training

The biggest barrier in getting our faculty on board with utilizing digital software as part of their Art History course was addressing and overcoming tech fears. Leveraging the digital course support and customer success teams at Cengage was an integral step in easing faculty reservations and successfully training our faculty.

To start, we invited a Cengage Specialist to visit the college for a MindTap training session where our faculty learned how to use MindTap tools and discussed the ways digital content can directly benefit their courses. Faculty were then given the opportunity to work with a Cengage Tech Representative to assist in setting up their specific courses. Through adoption of MindTap, you’ll also receive assistance from a designated Cengage rep, so you won’t go through the process alone.

Create—and Share—Course Templates

As the supervisor of Art History, I was able to work with the publisher to create course templates that seamlessly integrate into our Learning Management System – Blackboard. These course templates have been very helpful for new art history faculty that are just getting started. For seasoned faculty, it was a better solution for them to work directly with a Cengage Representative to customize their course needs. Many of the faculty had already spent countless hours developing their own course content and this “one to one” assistance allowed them to integrate MindTap into their class without losing all the earlier developed curriculum.

Proactively Address Fears and Reservations

Many of the well-versed faculty were skeptical at first, sharing stories of their first experiences working with online publisher content. It’s true that, in the beginning, technology was more cumbersome and less interactive. This has all changed over time and the technology is now truly a learning enhancement tool for classes. Faculty were impressed with the image forward content, which leaves the image in place and allows the text to scroll. The interactive icons above the art images definitely make learning more fun by connecting to Google Maps and YouTube video links. These resources work to reinforce the learning in interactive ways that the students actually enjoy.

Onboard Your Students

Based on student evaluations, the experience of learning in a course enhanced with MindTap has been overall positive. The most difficult part for the students is logging in the access code and taking the steps to set up their computer web browser to use MindTap. Cengage has resources to help explain this process—including a quick video tutorial and access to Cengage Tech to make sure the process goes smoothly for them. I recommend integrating these resources into the beginning of the course to prepare students for a successful start. The set-up is worth the effort to access the content. Students like the interactive platform and find the ebook, study resources, assignments and quizzes very user friendly.

Here at GCC, the transition into using MindTap has been a positive experience for our faculty and students. This was made possible by the Cengage support staff, so take advantage of these resources. They’re available and ready to help you get started—and whenever you need them during the term.

Heather Jones is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Genesee Community, teaching studio art and art history courses. Her teaching experience includes a variety of teaching methods—including traditional, online, SUNY COIL instruction and study abroad courses. She received her M.F.A at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a B.F.A at Alfred University. Heather is a professional mixed-media artist creating artwork based on sustainable concepts. She was recently awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.