Blending Graphite with Pixels

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  • Title: Blending Graphite with Pixels: Natural History Illustration Online
  • Author(s): Bernadette Drabsch, Andrew Howells, Clare Lloyd
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Education
  • Keywords: Art Education, Natural History Illustration, Online Learning, e-Learning, Curriculum Design, Online Pedagogy, Massive Open Online Course, MOOC
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9944 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-0306 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Drabsch, Bernadette , Andrew Howells, and Clare Lloyd. 2019. "Blending Graphite with Pixels: Natural History Illustration Online." The International Journal of Arts Education 14 (2): 1-13. doi:10.18848/2326-9944/CGP/v14i02/1-13.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Art education in Australia sits at a crossroads of uncertainty. While our low student-to-teacher ratios are important for providing one-on-one advice in the studio, we are sometimes accused of being indulgent and non-progressive. So how can we respond to these issues and survive in an increasingly hostile environment? This paper provides a reflective account from a small group of art educators and an educational designer from The University of Newcastle tasked with teaching traditional drawing skills online while endeavouring to provide a learning atmosphere similar to the conventional face-to-face studio classes. Developing and delivering the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101” was full of challenges, as it was one of the first practice-based short online courses designed for a high number of students. The results were positive and proved that alternative teaching methods could be successful in engaging a diverse group of learners. Although the online course was never intended to replace the on-campus classes, it demonstrated that teaching specialised skills-based techniques online was possible, and blended learning might be a viable option for art education in the future.