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Nicolet College's indigenous art class wins national award for online education


An online class at Nicolet College recently won a prestigious national award for innovate course design.

The indigenous art class was one of four programs selected for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies’ national WOW award. It recognizes outstanding work in online education.

“We got the chance to partner with a tribal expert to really bring the authentic indigenous culture, history and wisdom into this newly designed online course,” said Di Wu, who helped design the art class for Nicolet College.

Unlike other art appreciation classes, Wu says this class places a great focus on cultural identity.

Before students even start to learn about indigenous art, they first examine their own identity. The first project asks students to find a piece of family art and interview family members about it.

“It’s a very diverse class,” Wu says. “Everybody is sharing their own identities and it’s like a small United Nations. Students really discover themselves on another level and become more open to other people’s culture.”

Then, the students learn about indigenous art.

Wu says students are asked to create their own textbook by interviewing indigenous artists and researching different forms of art, from beadwork to pottery and birchbark creations.

Twenty students took the class when it was first offered. Wu says all gave positive feedback.

“They shared with us so many heartwarming messages,” Wu says. “They not only loved the course, but also they learned so much from the course, especially about their own identities, their own ancestry, their own art, and they got to appreciate indigenous culture.”

The course is now available to students in Nicolet’s university transfer program.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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