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Student Exhibition in Virtual Art Education

In recent years, presenting artwork has had a growing weight in art education made evident by the revision of the National Core Arts Standards in 2014. Students are encouraged to select and analyze work for presentation, determine methods and techniques in which to present, and consider how different presentations affect the meaning of art (National Coalition of Core Arts Standards, 2014). According to Burton (2004), there are several benefits of exhibiting student artwork for the students, teachers, and community, and he posits that exhibition completes the artistic process. In this age of advancing technology, it makes sense to see a rise in virtual education as well. But how does that effect visual art programs? As an art educator in a virtual school, I continue the search for an effective way to meet presentation standards by allowing students to be active in exhibiting their own art.

The Importance of Student Art Shows

Displaying their artwork provides children with a sense of satisfaction from recognition. Students who are aware their work will be viewed have a tendency to take more care in their craftsmanship (Burton, 2004). Hatcher (2009) concludes that the Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE) approach implemented in the 1980s covered four main areas of art study: art making, aesthetics, art history, and art criticism, but was not structured to adequately cover the topic of exhibition as an area of study. Instead, she is a proponent of Project-Based Learning, a practice which results in an end product to show that students have learned a specific goal (Hatcher, 2009). Art exhibition can be worked into the curriculum effectively removing the weight of this task from teachers. Four steps are recommended: conceptualization, installation, publicity, and event/opening. In making exhibiting an on-going lesson, students are practicing creativity, critical thinking, decision-making, hard work and planning (Burton, 2004).

Engaging the Community

Not only do student art exhibitions have a lasting effect on the children involved, but the community as well. Exhibitions help promote the arts and art education programs. Burton (2004) states, “Attractive exhibitions provide the strongest possible advocacy of art to parents, other teachers, and administration” (p. 46). Presenting student art to the public allows the community to see what is happening within the art program. For example, the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA) in Tallahassee, Florida, has worked to put on the annual Winter Festival Youth Art Exhibition for the last twenty-five years as of 2017. Amanda Thompson, Education and Exhibitions Director for COCA is quoted, “By publicly displaying our students’ artistry, we engage parents, arts education advocates, and community members in the conversation about the importance of the arts” (Brinkley-Broomfield, 2017, para 5). The council’s goal is to promote art and culture within the community while accepting cultural diversity in artistic expression.

Virtual Art Education

VLEs and Collecting Data

I have been teaching art for the past six years. The first three years were in a traditional brick and mortar school, and the most recent three years have been in a virtual education setting. Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are on the rise. Web-based education is being used not only to incorporate technology standards, but also to supplement traditional courses. One of the perks of virtual education is the ability to collect data. One type of data to be collected is student engagement. A study conducted by the University of Maryland shows that students taking advantage of the VLE resources earned higher scores than those who used the resources 40% less often (Alves, Miranda, & Morais, 2017).

In 2018, two of my Connections Academy (CA) colleagues, Wendy Aracich of Georgia and Beth Bundy of Oregon, presented at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) National Convention. In their research, Aracich and Bundy (2018) surveyed twenty-eight secondary virtual art educators. According to the data, the most frequent struggle amongst the educators was engagement with students (25%). One surveyed educator comments,

No matter where you go [the kids] are going to be the same, as far as, you have those students who love art and are engaged and those that don’t want any part of it. I’ve had difficulty engaging those students that really just are not art minded.

CA educators were also asked about the quality of student art work they received. On a scale of zero to five, educators said they received work at an average quality of three. Another anonymous educator states,

Students who are not interested in art but need the credit sometimes end up at an online school and they are looking for the easiest road to passing. This often leads to simplified work and I cannot push them towards complexity as I could in a brick and mortar setting.

I hope that by creating a virtual student art exhibit, I will increase student engagement, and consequently, student achievement.

How to Conduct a Virtual Exhibit

While teaching in a brick and mortar school, the visual art department presented semi-annual Art Review slideshows during school assemblies, submitted student work to local, state, and national competitions, and the entire fine arts department (nine faculty members across six disciplines) held a summative Fine Art Night in the spring semester. While teaching virtually, I have struggled to grasp how to incorporate such events in an online environment. Presenting is the most difficult of the national core art standards to address in my virtual setting (Aracich & Bundy, 2018)

Web-Based Gallery Formats

Burton (2010) provides a few suggested formats for web-based student galleries which can be created by the teacher, using a template or hiring a professional web designer. In one style—similar to that of a website or blog—art can be grouped according to various criteria such as class sections, grade levels, or by assignment. Some teachers choose to showcase every artwork while others choose only exemplary examples of the given objective. Another format is the 3D virtual tour in which the viewer can scroll past artwork that appears to be hung on a gallery wall and click to move in or change direction (Burton, 2010). Another factor to keep in mind is student privacy. Some galleries recommend using a coded name for students to maintain their anonymity and to obtain parental permission to exhibit the work.


Exhibition is a necessary part of the artistic process which provides intrinsic values to the student artists (Burton, 2004). However, additional research will be necessary to effectively implement a virtual exhibition into my current educational setting. Several factors must be considered in the chosen platform including the quantity of uploads, student privacy, accessibility and user-friendliness, social capabilities, ability to present in Adobe Connect (Connections Academy Live Lesson platform), cost, and visual appeal.

Hatcher (2009) claims, “By teaching students to participate in exhibitions you are teaching them to participate and complete the artist’s cycle” (p. 4). Both Hatcher (2009) and Burton (2004) advocate against teachers creating the exhibit themselves, and instead promote student involvement in the process. For that reason, I seek a virtual gallery platform that allows student hands-on manipulation.

According to the research data of Aracich and Bundy (2018), engagement is difficult at Connections Academy schools. Of those surveyed, most virtual art educators state students share their artwork most commonly in Live Lesson (68%) compared to live art shows (18%) and virtual art shows (10%). Given that data, I feel the virtual gallery method I choose, most importantly, must be compatible with the Adobe Connect Live Lesson platform.




Alves, P., Miranda, L., Morais, C. (2017). The Influence of virtual learning environments in students’ performance. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(3), 517-527.

Aracich, W., & Bundy, B. (2018, March 23). Can art be taught effectively in a virtual environment [handout]? [National Art Education Association, National Convention] Retrieved from

Brinkley-Broomfield, K. (2017, December 6). Youth Art Exhibition Showcase Importance of Student Creativity. The Famuan. Retrieved from

Burton, D. (2004). Exhibiting student art. Art Education, 57(6), 41-46.

Burton, D. (2010). Web-based student art galleries. Art Education, 63(1), 47-52.

Hatcher, L. (2009). Exhibition in the Curriculum: Preparing Students to Complete the Artistic Cycle. Thesis, Georgia State University.

National Coalition of Core Arts Standards. (2014). National Core Arts Standards. Retrieved from

Action Plan

Engagement in the Visual Arts through Presentation

Action Plan

Target: To promote and improve student engagement in the academic process through the presentation of student artworks via a virtual gallery and Fine Art Night.

Result Statement(s): Students and Learning Coaches will be encouraged to participate in online student galleries which would focus on the presentation standards of the National Core Arts Standards including written artist statements.

End Goal:  To increase student participation, and thus, engagement in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and promote the Arkansas Connections Academy (ARCA) fine arts program within the community.

Changes in Staff Learning Behavior: What will staff do to reach the identified

result? How will we know whether staff is developing these behaviors?

  • Staff will begin by creating a school Artsonia page in classroom mode which will allow students and families to upload artworks and provide artist statements.

  • Staff will continue research for virtual art galleries.

  • Staff will research FlipGrid, a video discussion platform for potential use for student presentation collaborations.

Promotion to the Learning Community:

How will students, parents, faculty/administration, and others know about and help encourage the plan?

  • Connexus communications:

    • Webmail

    • Message Board

    • Live Lesson announcements

    • Weekly Advisory Newsletter

    • Parent Conferences

  • Facebook marketing

  • Star mail to successful participants

Changing Instruction:

What will teachers do to change their learning behaviors and attain the result?

  • Incorporate curatorial activities during Live Lesson sessions with students.

  • Offer museum field trips with a thematic focus on curating.

  • Provide instructional videos for effective and attractive photographing of artworks.

  • Provide instructional videos over the process and use of virtual galleries.


Standards Being Assessed:

What state and/or national standards will be incorporated in instruction to meet the target goal?

  • Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation. (VA:Pr4.1.Ka-IIIa)

  • Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. (VA:Pr5.1.Ka-IIIa)

  • Anchor Standard 6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. (VA:Pr6.1.Ka-IIIa)

Progress Monitoring:

How will we measure progress towards the changes in learning behavior and teaching that we want?

  • Live Lesson attendance data.

  • Live Lesson participation/engagement data.

  • Quantity of students who upload artwork to virtual student gallery.

    • Multiple uploads

  • Quantity of students who include artist statements in the virtual gallery.

Collaborating and Support:

How will we use the information we get from monitoring to determine target achievement?

  • Compare data collected by active participants against academic progress reports.

  • Include music and technologies in a summative, fine arts showcase for additional involvement.


Evaluation of Success:

Next steps? Do we need to keep this target in next year's plan?

  • Survey students and learning coaches.

  • Why did you participate? Why not? What was successful? What aspects need improvement? How did you learn about the presentation opportunities? Additional comments?

Virtual Gallery Platforms and Presentation Services to Research:

  • Artsonia

  • FlipGrid


  • SketchUp

  • Virtual Art Space (VAS)

  • Exhibbit

  • Ikono Space

  • Flickr

  • Google-The Art Project

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