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Lesson Plans

Art Education and new technologies

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D. (tatc)
Sun, 28 Jan 1996 12:56:23 -0600

Dear Artsednet subscribers:

I would like to make some comments about art education and new technologies
in response to some recent questions and e-mails about this topic.

=46irst, I do not think the term bandwagon is not the best term to use when
referring to new technologies. Someone on the listserv referred to
technology as a bandwagon. To use the term bandwagon, to me, implies
that it is faddish or trendy and that if you wait long enough it will go
away. New technologies are not going away and I believe technology will be
more and more integrated into the fabric of our lives and society to an
even greater degree in the future than it is now.

The term bandwagon also implies to me that those who advocate the use of
new technologies are doing so mindlessly and in a superficial way without a
real knowledge of a solid philosophical instructional design or
knowledge/experience about the realities of what this may mean.

Perhaps there are some who would advocate the use of technology because of
all the so-called bells and whistles or are naive as to what the day to day
problems of using technology may be. However, many of us who are
recommending the use of new technologies see the issue in a larger context
and are focusing on other larger issues. The other issues are more central
than issues of technology by itself. These issues include primarily issues
centered around the current debate on education reform and the use of new
technologies to reform the entire educational system including art
education and the entire social and economic structure of this nation,
including the artworld. We are participating in a major societal, artistic
and educational paradigm shift. Many people see technology as the way to
implement some of these new ideas.

The special issue on Art Education Reform and New Technologies that I am
currently editing for the NAEA journal called Art Education, will be
focusing on these more central issues of education reform and paradigm
shifts aided or assisted by technology. I think it is important to realize
that technology is a tool for teachers, schools and society to improve and
reform itself. I am not suggesting that the pragmatic concerns of art
teachers, as they try to integrate the use of technology, are not
important, but I think it is essential for us to have an overall
understanding of why we want to use technology before we even attempt to be
concerned with pragmatic issues.

=46or example, as you are reading this page, the whole notion about what is
art, is changing. It is changing because people's ideas are changing and
because new possibilities for expression through technology are changing
the way many are coming to think about art and the artistic process and
about such issues as the definition of art, copyright issues and ownership
issues, immediacy issues, permanence issues, privacy issues, collaboration
issues, appropriation of images, etc. (We could come up with quite a list)
These are the type of issues we ought to be bringing into the art classroom
along side the production aspects of using technology to make art. The
important content should not be whether or not one can make a video and
then import it into the computer and then modify it and then finally export
it to be played on Channel One. The most important content I believe is
that the curriculum ought and should include the implications of this new
artistic ability and helping students understand that these new forms of
expression carry with them some important implications about the very
nature of art and the artistic process. The implications are related to
all the issues I expressed above.

In addition, as you are reading this page, the whole notion about what
education and learning is, is also changing. It is changing because
educator's ideas are changing because fundamental philosophical assumptions
about the nature of knowledge and the nature of learning are changing.
They are also changing because technology is fueling and making possible
some of these new ways of thinking about knowledge, teaching and learning.

I am speaking about the education reform movement that is being fueled by
new technologies. I am speaking about the adoption of some post modern
education theories such as social constructivism or radical constructivism.
In general, the philosophical assumptions of social constructivism include
the belief that all knowledge is partial and positional. In other words,
different individuals will interpret the same information in different
ways. The goal of this approach is not to try to make people think in just
one acceptable way about any one particular topic. The goal of this
approach is to see that there are different ways of viewing the same thing
and that it is up to the individual to process those ideas and to construct
their own meaning based in part on a thorough understanding of many points
of view. Through new technologies then you can help students have access
to all kinds of primary information that comes from many different points
of view and then your role as an educator is to help them think about that
information. Teachers within this approach become facilitators and a very
vital part of the educational process.

Now for a real world description.

Imagine that you had a computer in the art classroom that had a CD-ROM
drive, a laser disk player and it was connected to the Internet and the
world wide web. As part of a studio lesson on Impressionist painting
techniques, you divide the class into collaborative learning groups. Each
group would consist of four or five students. By taking their turn at the
computer, CD-ROM and WWW, each group would gather around the computer to
seek information on a particular topic they have identified. While students
were waiting their turn, they would be working on other activities in the

Let us say a group has identified that they want to know more about
Vincent Van Gogh and that they want to gather visual and auditory
information on him and his art work so that this information could be
edited to be eventually put into a multi-media program they are
constructing using HyperStudio. The teacher has helped them identify the
following resources: The Voyager CD-ROM called Starry Night, the Vincent
Van Gogh laser disk narrated by Leonard Nimoy and the URL WWW address for
the Web Louvre on which is a section devoted to Vincent Van Gogh. The
Voyager CD has text, graphics and quick time movies. The laser disk has a
video on the life and times of Vincent Van Gogh and still frame images of
most of his paintings. The WWW Web Louvre has text about the life and art
of Van Gogh as well as reproductions of some of his art.

The students review the information together and make decisions about what
information they want to import into their HyperStudio document. They then
design and create their HyperStudio document and import the information.
They also write and add their own original graphics and text to the
HyperStudio document. They then present the HyperStudio document to the
rest of the class.

This type of approach is working in many art classrooms as I speak and this
is what I am referring to when I say constructivism. If we as art
educators have a clear idea as to why we ought to use technology and we see
it as part of a larger movement to improve education and expand the
definition of art, even art education, then we will move mountains to get
the equipment we need. We will figure out a way to make it happen. I
believe art teachers are very resourceful and very creative. They ought to
be on the forefront of this movement. Some art teachers have found that
when they have this larger picture, that when they talk about it to
administrators in this manner, that they gain attention, respect and
action. Many are finding that the use of technology in the classroom in
the way I described above improves the credability of the art program and
in some cases is putting the art program in a central position to effect
change in the way others think about art and the way others plan their
curriculums. Many are finding that people are taking a second look at the
art centered curriculum model.

Therefore, I advocate for technology, not for its own sake, but for the
sake of how it can change and improve student learning in art, how it can
improve the status of art education, how it can help improve multi-cultural
and inter-racial understanding, how it can effect a change in how we
perceive knowledge and learning and how it can effect overall school
curriculum design. I have a great deal of hope for the future and our
profession. The future is in our hands and I hope I have helped in some
small way to paint a broad picture of why we should use technology in the
first place. Thank you, to all of you who have read this entire long

I welcome a friendly dialogue about what I have just said.

  • Maybe reply: Kandrbrt: "Re: Art Education and new technologies"
  • Reply: sarah ann bowler: "Re: Art Education and new technologies"