blogger counters

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Mini-Lectures Using Learning Objects: Bosch's The Haywain (1516)

Animated learning objects that bring together images, audio, and interaction are a perfect place to engage students. Now that many translate to HTML5 and are designed to be responsive so that they play well on tablets and smartphones (and on all platforms) as well as laptops, etc., they're a great way to deliver mini-lectures. Click to see one that I created for the purposes of this blog. Hieronymus Bosch / Technologies of Perdition in The Haywain.

Bosch's Haywain Mini-Lecture via Learning Object

Hieronymus Bosch's The Haywain (1516) is a wonderful of example art and technology; specifically art illustrating technologies of perdition. It's profoundly apocalyptic as well as illustrative of the human condition. There is really nothing like Bosch when it comes to satisfying visual narratives.

So, I thought I'd put together a learning object as a "mini lecture." In this case I used Articulate Engage because it easily allows integration of images, text, and audio in a number of pre-prepared templates. This one is "guided image" and it features animated arrows along with interaction. It's a responsive object, but unfortunately, it's not responsive enough to be able to expand it on a touchscreen, which is rather unsatisfying.

I am also unsatisfied that there is not a "pause" or a "resume" control button on the audio player, and I ended up putting all the text in the scroll-down box because there is not a button for downloading the script as a single file, although the script is available if you have access to the Articulate Engage interface. There is no way to download the script from the object, though, and so I think it's necessary when using the object to include a separate link for the text of the script.

Thoughts on Learning Objects as Mini-Lectures
It is fun to think about how you can also repurpose your videos and incorporate them into learning objects that can be used as mini-lectures. What I like about learning objects is that you can use them within a learning management system, but you can also liberate them and host them on web space you might have (or simply use Google Drive with a setting to share with the world), and the can be "stand-alones."

At any rate, the possibilities are endless, and there are many different ways to use the new learning objects any time, any where, on all devices.

Here's one where I embedded videos shot in upstate New York (Yaddo Artist Retreat), on the topic of Sylvia Plath's journals.  Learning Object: Mini Lecture with Videos on Sylvia Plath .

Learning Object -- videos, text on Sylvia Plath
Learning Object with embedded videos -- perfect for mini-lecture on all devices on Sylvia Plath

Full Text of Bosch's The Haywain Lecture
Bosch's apocalyptic imagination really shines in this piece, a large painting (4-1/2 by 6-1/2 feet) which is a triptych that creates a narrative that illustrates the human condition, after first living in the Garden of Eden, and then being cast out for sin. Far from Eden, the world is populated by Eve's children who inhabit the earth in a condition of degradation and sin. The second (center) panel, which is our focus here, features a fascinating vehicle, which is at the same time, a trap to tempt people, and also the vehicle that carts them away to hell.  The third panel illustrates the hideous condition they will experience in Hell. A finely detailed digital copy is in the public domain.

The haywain offers "hay" (temptation) and it carts people to hell
The center panel illustrates fallen world with lust, greed, and gluttony. The haywain is a technological device - a vehicle that both tempts and takes away. There is certainly an echo of the Trojan horse here, as well as the ferry across the river Styx.

Haywain is a vehicle dragged by demons
The sinners who ride the haywain and try to grasp their share of the hay are being carted to the inferno by demons (note their horrific forms; part beast, part human...)

Relishing the exposure of human nature
Bosch relishes the exposure of true behaviors and relationships, and there is a true frisson in doing so in extreme detail. Bosch's essential message has to do with the battle between good and evil, and the struggle to overcome sin. Here we see humanity's essential nature (which is to be caught up in greed, lust, sin) and to be ignorant (or oblivious to) the fact one is being carted straight to the pit.

Bosch Summary
With his extreme detail, and the baroque exaggeration of the people and beasts who populate his art, Hieronymus Bosch never fails to fascinate audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The Haywain now housed in the Prado Museum in Spain is an excellent example of a theme that is repeated in his work: we live in a world inhabited by sin, temptation, and very real demons. Whether the figures are reflect a horror of the world's temptations, or a reveling in the human condition (with its extremes and ultimate perdition), has been an intriguing topic of debate. Further, Bosch's work is deeply revelatory and shows people's hidden motives and also the often unrecognized vehicles of our own perdition.

A few final thoughts
All comments and responses to Bosch and Plath by Susan Smith Nash. They are intended to encourage creativity to illustrate what can be done in online learning, and should not be construed as rigorous critical exegesis. Copy and paste into a term paper at your own peril.

Blog Archive