For seven year, I taught art appreciation at a community college.  As I gained more and more teaching experience, I began to identify certain concepts that could be taught more effectively.  Each year, I would experiment with new ways of teaching one or two of these concepts and frequently these experiments involved digital technologies.

One of those concepts was the theory of simultaneous contrast, an important step in understanding how colors affect other colors and a thread in a student’s mastery of visual analysis skills.  I had been taught this theory by a professor who literally held up two pieces of colored cardboard side by side, alternating one and leaving the other piece the same.  I remember him saying, “Do you see it? Do you see it?”  And I left the class thinking, “Nope.”  There are always attempts in books to show this theory with two squares, placed side by side with a smaller square in the center of each.  The center square is the exact same color and the surrounding color varies in each. Like this example:

One day I created a Keynote presentation with a series of ‘big squares’ that surrounded ‘smaller square’ like this one above.  I flipped through about ten slides that were each connected with a cross-fade transition.  My students were enthralled and I thought, “Yes! I’ve got it!”

Then, on a whim, I decided to export it to a .mov file and upload it to YouTube.  I honestly completely forgot about this video until today when I received an email notifying me that someone had commented on it.  This email notification served, for me, as a realization of how social media, like YouTube, can often encourage us to revisit our own work which is an important step in reflecting on our own learning growth as individuals and educators.  I share the video here in hopes that other may find it useful in their own teaching or learning.

Click play and keep your eyes on the center square. The color of the center square does not change — it only appears to change because of the affect of the shifts in the color of its viewing context.

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