Love for art apparently has no boundaries — at least that is the case for two archdiocesan high schools.
A distance learning relationship emerged last September between St. Hubert High School, an all-girls school in Northeast Philadelphia, and Lansdale Catholic, a co-ed high school about 20 miles away in Lansdale.
The collaboration happened because of Jean Broden, who now teaches an Advanced Placement art history course for both schools.
Broden, who taught at Lansdale Catholic for six years, transferred to St. Hubert’s a few years ago. She explained that administrators at Lansdale Catholic wanted to continue offering the advanced placement course, and she was asked to teach it at St. Hubert’s.
Distance learning had already been initiated at St. Hubert’s for language classes, but this was the first time Lansdale Catholic offered this type of class.
Although Broden presented most of the art history content through PowerPoint slides, she had to make some adjustments in the distance learning environment.
“It was tricky for me to rework some of the things I did when all my students were physically right in front of me,” said Broden, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. “I needed to revamp some of the activities I would have done so I could do them through the computer system. Some things were scrapped. Some new things were added, and some were adjusted.”
One change Broden made involves quizzes, which she now puts on a PowerPoint slide that everyone can see at one time. For written tests, Broden relies on a friend who lives nearby and teaches at Lansdale Catholic to bring the students’ tests back and forth.
“It’s opportune but not necessarily ideal,” she said. “As the course progresses, I need to work that out.”
She noted one logistical challenge for the Lansdale students is that they need to type classroom assignments at home and e-mail them to her.
Distance hasn’t been an issue in some cases because of technological resources like Google Drive, which enables users to share files through Google’s servers, for free. “Anything that needs to be shared I do on Google Drive,” Broden said. “Everyone has a Google Drive account and that way I can put something up and everyone has access to it.”
Broden said a recent group project was successful because students from both schools worked together through Google Drive.
The students in Broden’s classes have met one another in person during a field trip last fall, and she has another trip planned for the spring.
Her students at St. Hubert’s like having the opportunity to interact with classmates at Lansdale Catholic. “I think they really enjoy this look into another school, this look into another group of students,” Broden said. “I think for them it’s been wonderful. It’s worked out very nicely.”
Broden said she has fun teaching this course and she loves to see how enthusiastic her students become about art.
“I offer extra credit anytime they find art somewhere,” she said. “They’ll come in and say, ‘I saw this movie last night and there was this painting in the background.’ Someone brought in a Bed Bath & Beyond ad that had Roy Lichtenstein art on the front cover. That to me is the best part of this class.”