The Arts and Technology

By Bruce Buchanan

For a look inside a 21st century art classroom, look no further than Betsy Logan’s class at Auburn Junior High School. The list of supplies Logan hands out to students at her Alabama school includes “Portable mouse, computer, monitor … and imagination.”

Sixth-grade students create PowerPoint slideshows, which are then posted online. Eighth-graders use such high-tech tools as the Wacom Drawing Tablet and Painter Classic Drawing Program to create works of art on a computer screen. A website allows students to check on class assignments or post work samples online.

The marriage between the visual arts and technology seems to be a natural one. Innovations such as digital cameras, image scanners, and computer graphics programs open up entirely new possibilities for students to get creative. Using technology also helps art teachers get the attention of a plugged-in generation of youngsters who were raised on computers, play “Guitar Hero” games, and create visual arts and music using software like GarageBand or iPhoto.

“Technology is here to stay and we must prepare our students in current methods of technology as well as a variety of art media such as painting, ink, drawing, and other techniques,” says Logan, a National Board Certified Teacher.

But challenges remain in implementing classroom technology in the arts, most notably funding, teacher training, and simply finding time in the school day.

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