Template Addendum: Teaching with Objects

When working with objects (books, manuscripts, works of art), it is important to make every attempt to create a virtual experience that taps into the power of engaging with original objects, and that allows students to participate in visual analysis.

Princeton University Library

For Live Lectures And Seminars

  • When relevant and where circumstances permit, have a curator or other specialist (librarian, conservator) present on the video call with the objects “in hand.” Using overhead cameras, the curator can show/demonstrate the objects, highlighting material details that may not have been captured even if the object is available digitally.
  • Live discussions can also utilize images that are embedded in Digital PUL, the Library Catalog, and Special Collections Finding Aids.
  • If live interaction is not possible, the object should be digitized and available in an online viewer that can be used via screen-sharing. Please contact lib-requests@princeton.edu as soon as possible if you need something digitized.
  • If relevant and available, consider using digital annotation or transcription tools to help engage students.
  • Whenever possible, make the digitized versions of the objects available in Canvas, or provide links, as appropriate.

Considerations For Curators/Material Specialists

  • Work with Library IT to ensure that the proper hardware and software are available.
  • Consider using multiple cameras (and therefore, possibly, multiple computers) to show multiple angles at once.
  • Consider scale and perspective. It may be useful to rulers, scales, or other objects present to demonstrate size, weight, texture, etc.
  • Work with Library IT to ensure that the proper hardware and software are available.
  • Consider using multiple cameras (and therefore, possibly, multiple computers) to show multiple angles at once.
  • Consider scale and perspective. It may be useful to rulers, scales, or other objects present to demonstrate size, weight, texture, etc.

Princeton University Art Museum

For Live Lectures And Seminars

  • Images of objects selected by faculty for courses will be available in three formats – powerpoint, .zip download, and through an online high-res viewer.  Each can be used via screen sharing on Zoom or another remote course platform.  Images of works in the Museum’s collections can also be downloaded or accessed in a high-res viewer directly from the Museum’s website.
  • For asynchronous lessons, recorded presentations with high-res images of Museum objects and narrations can be created.
  • Virtual tours of the two current exhibitions, Life Magazine and the Power of Photography, and Cézanne: The Rock and Quarry Paintings are available on the Museum’s website. 
  • It may be possible to have a curator present on the video call with the objects “in hand.” Using overhead cameras, the curator can show/demonstrate the objects, highlighting material details that may not have been captured even if the object is available digitally.
  • To schedule a consultation for teaching online with the Museum’s collections, please contact Veronica White, curator of academic programs, at vmwhite@princeton.edu.
  • Whenever possible, make the links to the objects online available in Canvas.

Considerations For Curators/Material Specialists

  • Consider scale and perspective. It may be useful to have rulers, scales, or other objects present to demonstrate size, weight, texture, etc.
Recommended Digital Tools

Sharing and examining course materials 

  • Embed digitized items not in copyright in the Library catalog or Canvas. Portions of in-copyright materials can be provided under fair use guidelines, or otherwise on a per-user basis (similar to course reserves)
  • Take advantage of Mirador, an image collection viewing tool that allows users to video, zoom in on, and compare digital images.  Library image collections can be imported into Mirador, and all of the Museum’s collections can be examined using Mirador directly through the Art Museum’s website.

Asynchronous discussion and media annotation

  • Use the Discussion tool in Canvas which supports the embedding of images.
  • Use VoiceThread, a platform for asynchronous discussions on multimedia resources, which makes it possible for students to leave audio, video and text comments on images, videos, or presentation slides.
  • Take advantage of Ed Discussion, available in Canvas, for Q&A style discussions that supports embedded images and video, private and anonymous posts, and image annotations.  
  • Collaboratively annotate course readings (PDFs or webpages) with Hypothesis 

Video conferencing and engagement tools 

  • Use Zoom in conjunction with a specialized overhead/document camera that is driven by a specialist (curator, conservator, librarian) from the library or art museum. 
Essential Considerations

Choose examples carefully. Where objects are essential to the learning process, make sure that the relevant details can be presented online. Where, for example, the materiality of the object  is more important than the content, work with Library/Museum staff in advance to find examples that are the most conducive to being demonstrated online, either through digitization or under cameras in real-time, and ideally both.

Anticipate issues of access and inclusion. Carefully consider any special assistance or accommodations that may be needed in place of the live event, especially for those with visual impairments.

Sources for Images and Visual Analysis