IU Libraries is excited to announce its first Open Educator Awardee, Dr. Michelle Facos. Dr. Facos is a Professor of Art History and Adjunct Professor in Jewish Studies and the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Facos teaches courses on 19th century and modern art, art history, and women artists. An innovator, over a decade ago Dr. Facos transitioned from using a textbook and other text-based resources to adopting resources offered at no cost through Smart History, a digital collection of high-quality, openly licensed videos and digital art history resources. Smart History is committed to making the insights of prominent art scholars accessible because, “the brilliant histories of art belong to everyone, no matter their background.”
Dr. Facos agrees that art should be accessible to all. She has been using Smart History videos in her Renaissance through Modern Art (ARTH-A 102) course for the last decade. The course, which impacts over 100 students each semester, is a survey of major artists, styles, and movements in European and American art from the 15th century to the present. Dr. Facos’ commitment to using a free resource has saved students thousands of dollars each time she teaches ARTH-A 102, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars for IU Bloomington students over the last ten years. This level of impact—thousands of students having immediate access to quality learning materials—is what IU Libraries seeks to celebrate through its Open Educator Award.
Open Educational Resources like Smart History are about more than cost savings for students. Dr. Facos has witnessed the resource improve student learning and engagement. She said, “instead of focusing on superficial description and biography [as art history texts often do], succinct videos contextualize the art and foster a deeper engagement with the material we’re studying. Often the presenters (all carefully vetted outstanding scholars in their fields) stand before the works of art while discussing them, giving the students a 'you are there' experience.”
Dr. Facos finds the videos often have a profound impact on students. “They have told me that it inspires them to study abroad and to become more interested in art and foreign places, in general.” She shares that it’s fulfilling to see students get excited and curious about art and other cultures.
Dr. Facos will be briefly recognized on April 5 at the Open Education Week Showcase, happening in IU Libraries Hazelbaker Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you’re interested in discovering Open Educational Resources like Smart History that can save students money and transform learning in your course, contact Sarah Hare, explore Libraries OER resources, or check out our Course Material Fellowship Program (call happens each August). Please join us in celebrating Dr. Facos!