With all of this technological capacity literally at their students’ fingertips, how are arts teachers adapting to this new world? In most schools, the performing arts — vocal and instrumental music, dance and theater — have been impacted, both in the way the classes are taught and in students’ interest to participate. But visual arts are likely seeing the greatest effect, since students’ artistic skills can be boosted considerably with digital tools.
Due to budget cuts and an increased focus on academics, many schools’ art offerings have been in decline, especially in low socioeconomic communities. And simultaneously, states’ visual arts standards are now pushing the inclusion of technology alongside traditional media — raising the bar for already struggling schools.
But what are those fortunate schools that still have adequate arts funding doing to incorporate technology into their classes?
Tablet Apps, Adobe and Coding
Tablet computers — notably iPads — are cropping up in elementary art classes and offering students new creative opportunities. And I see their appeal, especially as a former art teacher frustrated by fixed 50-minute class periods, where after set-up and clean-up so little work time remained. But will iPads and art apps replace young students’ use of the more tactile (and messier) art mediums? Let’s hope not. Though one tech-savvy art teacherwrites how she was asked to give up her art supply budget in exchange for a classroom set of iPads.
Historically, drawing, painting and sculpting have been the root disciplines in a fine arts education, and therefore the primary focus of secondary art programs. But since technology applications like the Adobe Creative programs, coupled with 3-D rendering systems and printers, are now the industry standards in commercial art fields, they are being included in some schools’ arts programs as well. And digital photography and filmmaking, plus video game design classes where students learn to code as a creative endeavor, are likewise being offered.