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Pros: Exhibits are highly-customizable, including descriptive text for artifacts, voice-overs, and a built-in 3D object library.
Cons: It takes time to set up an exhibit with more than just a few objects, and the controls take practice to master.
Bottom Line: For teachers and students who can invest the time, Artsteps provides a compelling, free option for presenting and exploring images and audio of any kind.
With Artsteps, students and teachers can present objects, artifacts, and art, whether it's work they've created or found. While initially the app might lend itself to simple display of student artwork, there's much more to it. Students can certainly create exhibits featuring their visual or audio creations, but they can also can collect and display public domain or Creative Commons material. This allows students to place their work in conversation with others, or to create reports or presentations on art, history, culture, science, or whatever content they might have researched.
To get started, students can first design their space, taking into consideration what and how much they want to include as well as how objects relate to each other in the space. Invite students to group objects and create a progress through the space. That's a huge advantage of the virtual setting of Artsteps. Once the design is set, students can upload their digital content and place it in their exhibit space. After that, they can create their story with the optional guided tour feature, then publish and invite classmates to visit their exhibit. Viewers can leave comments and chat to create community around the showcased art and content. It's also possible to create a classroom-wide exhibit, displaying works by each student.
The Artsteps website and app are tools for browsing, visiting, and creating virtual 3D galleries. The app can be used to explore exhibits published by others (including exploring them in virtual reality), while the website allows for traditional keyboard/mouse exploration as well as creation. The website has point-and-click movement, while the app has two joystick-like controls -- one for moving and the other for looking.
Visitors can search public exhibits by keyword, or browse the offerings. Once in an exhibit, they can take a guided tour (if available), or click their way through, navigating the space and getting a closer look at the work. Each artifact may have labels, additional text to read, and sometimes even voice-overs. The exhibit can also include ambient music or other audio. Visitors can chat with each other and access a map of the space to get oriented as well as mark favorite exhibits, follow creators, and comment on exhibits.
To design their exhibit space using the web-version of Artsteps, users either choose a template or construct their exhibit space from scratch, placing walls and doors, choosing colors and textures, and adding elements such as display cases. They then place their own images, videos, 3D objects, and other artifacts, or add them from a built-in library. Objects can be moved, resized, and reframed. While creating, users can switch back and forth between the model view and the first-person view. Once the exhibit is complete, users can opt to design a guided tour, choosing tour guide spots and viewpoints, adding text to read, and including voice-over audio.
This site is great for artists and photographers to display their work, or for students to set their written stories to music or visuals. But it can also be used to demonstrate subject area learning, like describing historical events with imagery, sound, narration, and music. It can also be used to create broader exhibits that go beyond students' own work, such as bringing together content from all over the world.
By designing exhibits, students learn how to create compelling presentations and learning experiences. They'll need to use some finesse, making them look professional while also being enjoyable to browse. If using art and work other than their own, students will need to think deeply about this work and compare and contrast the work. Since these virtual exhibits can be shared on social media or embedded into websites, it's easy for students and teachers to display their knowledge and interests and then engage with others, giving students a wider audience for their efforts.
artseps could make some improvements, but mainly needs just to polish features and functionality. Most pressing would be adding improved search capabilities so students could locate content more easily. This would involve more filters for guided tours or audio, or to search by language. It would also be nice if teachers or students could curate a set of exhibitions and share that collection with others, like friends and family members.