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Lesson Plans


Re: Computers Use in the art room/criticism (long post)

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Susan Palfrey (spalfre1)
Sat, 06 Dec 1997 19:02:59 -0500

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Beth,

I found your post interesting and thought provoking. I'd like to respond
to several points you bring up having a background as a practicing artist
(printmaking and painting), art educator, and am currently working with
multimedia and teaching a middle school course entitled Multimedia. I've
included "clips" of the specific comments I am responding to.

> 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.

In education, including art education, we should take many approaches to
learning. Rarely is it possible to label one approach as best. I do agree
that we need to examine closely our use of computers in the art room. For
example, a slide/discussion may be a perfect way to introduce a lesson, but
having the same information on the computer for students to review or to
access information that they missed is highly useful.

Computers also reach certain students better than others. Having had these
same students now for as many as 9 years because I used to teach elementary
art, I see some students responding in creative ways to computer assisted
art that they have never done using traditional materials. I also see some
students who really don't want to use the computer to create art. In our
Multimedia classes, students are given choices. Someone may use clay and
photograph with a digital camera, another student may paint and scan,
another may paint or draw and then edit work on the computer. Another may
work solely on the computer, sometimes because it is the best medium (i.e.
an animated gif) or sometimes because it is their preferred method of
making art. I've seen, for example, a student who had trouble completing
projects in traditional materials, spend about 12 hours on one drawing on
the computer.

>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.

You're right, the computer is not the end all answer to education. It does
give us new choices. From my own observations both in an elementary and
middle school, and talking with colleagues in other schools, I don't see
the trend towards a computer as an abused toy.

>For example, should students use the Internet for research?

I totally agree here! There's a lot of information on the Internet.
Students will also need to be trained to be more discerning researchers.
There often no checks for accuracy of information on the Internet!

>And regarding art-making with 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?

In some cases it is just another way to do it. Because work can be edited
on a computer, the learning process (and I emphasize process) is really
enhanced. In fact, a student can save stages of their work so that the
different decisions can be discussed. As far as end product, I've chosen
to go the multimedia route because at this point, computer assisted art
looks best where it was created .. on the screen. Students do love to
print their work and I respect that. Do they have the same qualities as a
traditional watercolor, etching, block print, or collage? No. Should we
stop making traditional art? Emphatically no!!!!

>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?

That's why we back up our work, but yes we do have a whole new category of
frustration in our lives!

> 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.

Well said. Sometimes I think as teachers we have been encouraged not to
disagree with our colleagues. I find in my own school, there are times I
would like to discuss issues with colleagues and end up going to great
lengths not to step on toes and often end up avoiding issues. Hmmm, got to
think about that one.

Thanks again for your post.

Sue Palfrey
Multimedia and Art Teacher
Falmouth Middle School
Falmouth, Maine


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