This paper describes some multimedia software, called Art Explorer, designed and developed within the Institute of Educational Technology, at the Open University, UK. The discussion focusses on the pedagogic rationale for this development.
The paper is structured round two strands of a design story. First it highlights the research behind the design. The reported research is about learners' problems - most specifically about the varying conceptual, perceptual and affectual challenges learners face as they begin to study Art History. But, more broadly, it is about the problems faced by learners as begin academic study and seek to engage with the knowledge and methods of discipline experts.
Secondly, and it is argued, as a second pedagogic priority, the spotlight shifts to multimedia. The discussion tracks design decisions that aim both to exploit the potential of the medium and to match pre-identified learner needs. The ingredients of Art Explorer are described to illustrate some of the rich potential of the medium for negotiating understanding between teacher and learner.