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Introducing students to computers and the Internet is obviously an important
activity since this tool is becoming such an integral part of our lives, both
personally and professionally. I do believe, however, that we should consider
using the computer as a tool in education to provide and enable students to
create experiences and opportunities for which ONLY the computer can do, or
can do best. Julian's dissertation research and project is an example of
this, as it would be virtually impossible to create the world-wide
conversation and galleries without the use of computer technology and the
Internet (and it's good to see you're FINISHED, Julian! Congrats!).
At the same time, let's remember that the computer is not the end all answer
to education. And if we as educators do not make certain that we use this
tool appropriately and successfully, it could become an abused toy.
For example, should students use the Internet for research? Sure. But I
think just as we have always asked students to use multiple types of sources
to verify or challenge information, so must we require students to use other
sources besides the Internet. And regarding art-making with the computer, I
think it is important again to consider what the computer can do best in this
area... Another example: compare and contrast creating a painting and a
montage. What materials do we typically use for each? How do these translate
into the computer? Does the use of the computer truly enable us to create
with these "media" better, or is it just another way to do it?
Finally, it also seems critical for us to discuss the problematic issues with
computers, as well as its many benefits. If we can paint on a computer,
should we give up the "real" materials altogether? Yes it's great that we can
email, but what happens (and is happening) to social skills? Yes it's
wonderful that we can do all of our banking from our home computer, but what
happens when our computer crashes (because inevitably it will)? Are we able
to function without it?
Finally, I would like to say that I offer these thoughts for us to think
about. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, and I hope those of you do
or do not will engage in a healthy discussion from your points of view and
experiences. I am concerned about the comments regarding "crtitqueing"
others' ideas; if we as a profession do not consider the current implications
of our actions, or stop evolving, challenging, and changing art education's
discourses and practices, then the profession will not grow. As a
professional and graduate student I am aware of the "pains" associated with
being challenged. However, I am also aware that these challenges are to
enable me to better question and formulate--and understand!-- the theories and
practices which I utilize.
I have been a member of ArtsEdNet for approx. 18 months. If we can discuss
what to do with broken crayons, pinhole cameras, or nude works of art in the
art museum, it is my opinion that we should certainly also discuss the
implications of our actions, both professionally and critically.
Elizabeth B. Reese
The Pennsylvania State University