Technology Integration In K12 Education/Technology in Fine Arts Classrooms
Technology in Fine Arts Classrooms
It is very important to consider the use of technology in arts and most importantly integrating the arts into the classroom. Focusing on visual art and music education, which in fact is more frequently taught in a K-12 classroom will be explained of how technology can be important in using. In music education, technology has made advances for listening to music and composing music. For art education and the use of technology an explanation of pros and cons will be discussed as how it can be beneficial in the classroom and how it can distract in the classroom.
Music classrooms have benefited from the advance of technology since the invention of the phonograph. Over the years technology has become highly integrated into both general music classrooms and performing ensemble rehearsals. Electronic keyboards, music software, notation software, microphones, amplification, recording devices, and more have all helped music educators find ways to better help students learn about performing, improvising, reading, notating, listening, and composing. It is these last two, listening and composing, that have become of the biggest importance to music educators who have found educational ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. In fact, technology has made it easier for those teachers to reach certain state and national standards regarding listening and composing. From something as simple as using a cd player to do a listening project or a microphone at a concert to having students learn music theory independently from a software program or using various notation programs to compose a short piece for a project, music educators have found many ways to integrate technology into their classrooms and ensembles. In fact, technology has allowed many of them to do a better job of teaching certain standards to students at all age and ability levels. In the next two sections, you will find a more detailed description of how music educators are using various types of technology to help students meet standards concerning listening and composing.
According to the National Standards for Music Education Standard 6, students should learn to listen to, analyze and describe music. Standard 7 states that students should be able to evaluate music and music performances (MENC). In the elementary general music classroom, students are taught to listen for and identify beat, rhythm, meter, dynamic changes, form, and instruments using recordings of various ensemble and solo performances. They can be exposed to a variety of styles and instrumentations through recordings that the teacher is otherwise unable to provide. It is hard to teach students to identify these things if the teacher is limited to playing on instruments present in the classroom and that he or she has the ability to perform on. Since students need to be able to analyze and describe all types of music, recordings have made it possible to expose students to various sounds without having to attend live performances that require travel and money.
Many of these same things hold true for general music classes in middle and high school. It is even more important to have a variety of styles and ensembles represented as these students are asked to listen for and describe more complex concepts as well as to evaluate what they are hearing. It is also important for these students to be able to hear a high caliber of repertoire and performers that will allow for a greater understanding and appreciation of the music. Many schools do not have any other way besides recordings to get the students access to professional groups and soloists performing high level repertoire. Technology has first allowed these performances to be recorded. Then it allowed them to be shared with others.
In ensembles recordings play a different role. Students in choirs, bands, and orchestras are much more invested in learning how to evaluate music performances when they get to evaluate their own. Many times teachers will ask for an immediate reflection on a piece in rehearsal. What was good about that performance? What do we need to work on still? However, it is also beneficial to take time for the students to distance themselves from what they personally did and heard. After a day or two, students will have gained a lot more perspective and be able to listen to the entire group not just themselves. In order to do this type of evaluation, teachers will record a piece in rehearsal and have the group listen to it a few days later. Another way this recording can be used is to help the conductor figure out what needs work. A lot of times it is hard to hear everything that is happening and remember it for later. Recording a concert and listening to it later will provide yet another opportunity for students and teachers to reflect back on their personal performance as well as that of the entire group. In these types of exercises the evaluation of music becomes a lot more relevant to the students.
Standard 4 of the National Standards for Music Education states that students should be able to compose and arrange music within specified guidelines. To do this they will also need to have some ability to read and notate music, Standard 5 (MENC). The advent of notation software such as Finale and Sibelius has allowed students to explore the world of composing on the computer. These programs give students the ability to experiment with instruments and voices other than their own, ensembles of different sizes and instrumentation, and hearing what they are writing as they write it. Once students know enough about notation to use the rhythms and pitches provided, they can begin to compose solo and ensemble passages within guidelines provided by the teacher.
One of the best aspects of using notation software is the ability the students have to play back what they are writing as soon as they write it. They can listen to and evaluate parts of what they have written or the entire passage. It is also easier to make changes quickly and to produce a legible final product that they or their classmates may even be able to perform as part of the project. When students know how to use these programs, the entire writing process speeds up allowing the teacher more time to teach the actual aspects of composition or to let the students write longer and more pieces.
Music educators must be aware that notation software cannot be used as a substitute for teaching reading and notating music. Students should still be able to notate by hand. However, the freedom that notation software provides gives teachers a lot more flexibility and the students plenty of creativity.
Technology in the art classroom can be beneficial to students learning. In a society today students will be using technology in many part of their life. Outside of the classroom students have computers, gaming systems, handheld computer devices, and cell phones are just some of the ways that students are engaging in technology. It should be considered that children use technology outside of the classroom and so it should be important to integrate it in the art classroom as well. In the art classroom technology doesn’t have to be the main focus of the classroom but it should be addressed so students are aware of what technology can be used to create art forms.
It is important in an art classroom to use both traditional art forms and integrating new software and technology in the classroom. Students just need to be shown the basic instructions for technology and they will be able to understand the software. This would be beneficial in the classroom because students will be able to explore and create on their own. Some students will enjoy working with software because their drawing skills might not be that great but when they use certain art programs they will make perfect shapes and students will be satisfied with their work because it will look like how they envisioned it. Digital art is becoming a very popular subject in the art area and can and should be addressed to students early on in their art classroom. As a future educator it is important to remember that not all schools will have funding for this type of software or enough computers for students to use. However, there are many other activities teachers can do to integrate technology in the classroom. Teachers are introducing a video camera into the classroom to show students how to use technology. Some activities students have done that involve a video camera are interviews, commercials, and short plays. Using a video camera in the classroom can incorporate many other art techniques as well. For example, if the students are assigned to create commercials they should be required to use other art techniques to render this idea. The students might have criteria to write a script, which can be considered an art form and also designing a set. Using the idea of designing a set will give students a chance to show their drawing, painting, or sculpture skills. The students can be also taught how to use the video camera and some techniques that can be used in filming to create certain effects such as putting clear blue film over the lens and then the set would be a tint of blue. Incorporating many techniques that can be used in art will expand the student’s knowledge in the arts and different ways it can be incorporated.
Instructors in the classroom should also consider the advantages of using technology in the classroom that it will have on them. Art instructors are faced with many challenges in working in the art classroom. The first area that can become quite popular for instructors to struggle with is the notion of time and space in the art classroom. Many art teachers do not have enough storage and sometimes not even a classroom to work from. This is where technology can be very important for an instructor. Having a computer can really help an instructor create space and time in their teaching careers. As for having more time as a teacher, they would be able to use technology to create lesson plans and have them all saved on their computer for future reference. This would be very helpful for a teacher because many times teachers do not take notes on how the lesson was previously taught and now they will be able to go in and take notes on what went well with the project and what could be changed so that students could be more successful in the future. Also, teachers do not have enough space to keep materials and students work. Students work is an important part of a teacher’s career because it is beneficial to have examples for future years to show students and also have on record what other students did in previous years. To solve these problem instructors would be able to scan and save students work on their computer to reference in the future. This would eliminate having to keep students work stored away never knowing if you would need to reference that piece of work. The instructor could just look back into their saved documents and find what they are searching for.
A recent technology advance has take place in many classrooms and now is taking effect in art classrooms. Smart board technology is being put into art classrooms to have technology at the instructors finger tips. Smart boards can be beneficial because the teacher could use it for lesson planning and just have everything ready to go on the computer and show the students. For example, to introduce a new lesson about painting to the students the instructor might want to introduce a certain artist to the students. Using a smart board the instructor would be able to look up this artist and bring it up for the students to see. This would save a lot of time for the instructor because before technology the instructor would have to go searching for a book in the library to show students artists work. Not only will the teach now have an available image to show students but the instructor would be able to circle certain areas of the painting to have the students notice such as showing brushstrokes.
While it is often difficult to find many cons when it comes to technology integration in Art Education, there are some that need to be noted. For example the cost of technology in the classroom can be very high. A perfect example of this is Photo Shop and its costliness. While it is imperative that students going for graphic design or other computer programming related studies learn these kinds of skills, it is not always an option to have such technology in K-12 classrooms, simply based on cost. This technology as well, if acquired through the school cannot be easily translated to a student’s home computer without purchasing the proper software. This causes issues with the amount of learning that students can obtain, as they are not always able to take these skills and practice them at home.
Many schools have a laptop program that allow the students to take the technology home with them , but then there are many other issues such as in Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion School District. The school district has a class action lawsuit against it because they used the laptops provided to each student to disrespect a student’s privacy at home while the student had the laptop. While these cases are very far and few between, it is still a relevant issue when considering what technology should and should not be used in the classroom. Another con to having laptops is their costliness and short life span. Most laptops need to be replaced after a few years if they are going to be effective tools in instruction. Software programs as well need to be constantly replaced, which can be very costly and confusing for educators and students alike. An example would be in this very class, Google Sites will not accept the newer version of Microsoft, and therefore, students are required to save documents in an older format which may not necessarily translate well on newer versions of Microsoft if a document needs to be edited outside of the classroom.
Technology can be very distracting for students of all ages. Even from a college level standpoint, it is very difficult to keep a student’s attention when they have access to online technology such as Facebook. While many K-12 classes have certain restrictions on what students are able to view on the school computers, technology can be a distraction in and out of the classroom regardless. While students in a classroom may not have access to the certain kinds of websites they would normally view, there is generally a way that is found to get around the websites being blocked. Students as well are distracted at home when they have access to online social networks. While this may not be a direct distraction in the classroom, it is a distraction nonetheless.
Plagiarism is also a very big problem when it comes to technology integration in any kind of classroom, and is a growing problem when it is in regards to an art classroom. Students can plagiarize more than just writing assignments. There have been issues with students printing off images that have already been copy written, painting or drawing over them, and claiming them as their own. While this is sometimes acceptable when a student is required to copy a masterpiece for a project, it is often used to gain higher grades and awards in classes.
While there are many pros and cons when it comes to technology being used in the classroom, it is ultimately up to the teacher, principal, school board, or school district to make the decision as to what technology is allowed or disallowed and what technology is required. Teachers have some autonomy when it comes to deciding what king of technology is allowed, but if limited by budget constraints, they may not be able to meet their full technological potential. If a teacher is allowed to use different technology such as a Smart Board or laptops, they generally will. It is the general consensus that if a teacher has technology that they are able to use, they should use it. If it is not used it is wasted, and as most all technology comes at a cost, it is a waste not to use all of the tools available.
Both Music classrooms and Art classrooms have benefitted from the advance of technology since the invention of the phonograph and the invention of things such as print making and photography. Without technology, the human race would have much more difficult time sharing information and reproducing works. Without technology, we would not be able to make prints in the newspaper, record music, or even paint an oil painting. While we have shown that technology is vital to the fine arts, it can also be a hindrance.When things like cost, updates, and distractions play a role in technology it has also been shown that as much as technology plays an integral role in the education of students, it can also cause many problems that were not foreseen.
Ultimately, however, regardless of the school, it is up to the student as well to determine if seeking technology in the fine arts is a route that they would like to pursue. There are quite a few different kinds of music and art that can be accomplished without the use of new technology. Students that are studying to be graphic artists obviously need the technology, or are more apt to pursue technology, whereas students that are studying classical music or renaissance art methods may not be as likely to pursue a path that leads to learning about new technology.
There are also varying levels and degrees of technology. A student or teacher may be well versed in some programs and not specifically in others. There is no simple answer to whether or not technology is good or bad when it comes to the fine arts, rather it is important to accept the gray area in this profession and subject area.
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