So here we are, at the start of it all.
Last week the ENP 120 class met for the first time, kicking off the start of this grand, year-long project with a general introduction to what exactly this project is all about. Our inspiration? The Classroom of the Future. As professor Intriligator reviewed potential project ideas, the pool of smart boards and virtual note taking devices and chairs and remotes all started to feel eerily reminiscent of my Experimental Psychology class from last Spring, a course I DO NOT want to relive. The “theme” of Experimental Psychology was researching the question “What is mightier? The pen or the keyboard?”. During the entire semester, students were asked to do extensive research, both literary and experimental, into the potential and tendency for technology to have overwhelmingly negative effects in the classroom – think reduced memory retention, higher distraction, surface level interaction with lecture material, etc. The course frustrated me for a number of reasons, but the fact that we spent an entire semester justifying a resistance to and intolerance of technological advancements within the entire academic realm went against my usual, human factors-ie beliefs. Okay, there has been research suggesting laptops hinder academic performance, but WHAT are we going to do about it? The reality is technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in all settings, including academia, so instead of continuing to push back against this reality, we need to start exploring how classrooms can adapt and utilize technology as a tool to improve and enhance learning. Anywhooo, this blog isn’t about that class. The point of that lengthy kind-of tangent is… I had mixed feelings at this capstone’s kick off. While it seemed like a great opportunity to find opportunities for productive application of technology within the classroom, things like iPads and smart-boards brought back that lingering feeling of uninspired frustration from Experimental Psychology. And boy, I do not want to deal with feeling uninspired by this project for an entire year.
Let’s flash forward a couple days later. Here I am, sitting down to write my first blog post (still quite unsure what these blogs are expected to entail, by the way), determined to find inspiration in a topic that unreasonably had its inspiring qualities ripped away by the brutally lackluster Experimental Psychology. And all at once it comes to me; Art Education. The National Art Education Association restored my excitement. As a Studio Art minor, art has greatly influenced my experience in academia, although I never necessarily intended to study art in college. But let us not forget that art education is not exclusively valuable to those of us who are self-proclaimed ‘artists’. Art education is valuable to engineers and to english majors, to college graduates and people who never found success in academia. (Confused as to why? Check out this article “Learning in a Visual Age – The Critical Importance of Visual Arts Education” or “10 Lessons the Arts Teach” by Elliot Eisner – a sort of Spark Notes info-flyer type thing ) Talk about POTENTIAL.
Anyway, NAEA has a special interest group called Art Education Technology (AET). To give you an idea, their mission statement is the following:
“Art Education Technology (AET) is an interest group of the National Art Education Association. Our mission is to encourage and exchange knowledge and ideas related to new media technologies in the making of visual art, art teaching, and research in art education. We meet and hold events during each NAEA National Convention to create opportunities for networking with other art education professionals”
Seems like a good place to start this quest for an inspiring project, no?