In our current era of deep budget cuts throughout education. Accompanied by high-stakes standardized tests focusing predominantly on reading and math, we push arts education to the margins. Restoring the arts to a prominent place in our education system may occur with the help of a surprising ally. The 1:1 technology. However, how can students access to technology make visual art, music, theater, and dance come alive in the classroom?

Here are three key roles 1:1 devices play in improving the quality of art instruction for all students:

Digital Art and Music

Creating art and music through traditional tools – painting with watercolors, for example, or playing the trombone – is incredibly valuable. We should use 1:1 technology to enhance, not detract, from such experiences. For students and schools struggling to afford musical instruments, however, inexpensive IPod apps exist that offer realistic simulations designed to teach students the basics of how to play any instrument.

Even better, students can take their expertise with traditional tools and turn them into impressive finished products through a variety of tools. Such as, IMovie (for video), GarageBand (for music), and Google SketchUp (for 3-D sculpture and design). Once finished, students can document and publicize their work by posting it on a personal blog or sharing it on a site like PhotoBucket (for photography) or ITunes (for songs and videos). Students will no longer limit their audiences to teachers and classmates. Now students have the potential to sing, dance, and create art for viewers around the world!

 Distance Learning

Districts which cannot afford highly qualified specialists to teach art, music, theater, and dance may choose online arts courses to expand class offerings. These distance learning classes are not limited to video lectures and paper/pencil tests. The types of tools described above allow students to submit their real artwork to an instructor located anywhere.

Virtual Field Trips, Guest Speakers, and Collaboration Across Schools

In addition to giving students powerful ways to create better art and to share that art with the world, 1:1 technology allows art opportunities from around the world to come into the classroom. Through the power of videoconferencing, for example, students in 1:1 classrooms can talk to expert artists from anywhere around the world. Students can take virtual field trips to museums, for free, from the comfort of their classroom.

Additionally, we can cultivate collaboration with art students across multiple schools. Virtual art fairs can be held involving students from any number of schools, partnerships with other art classrooms can be formed, and “art buddies” within a district (such as a 4th grader from a town’s elementary school being paired with a 12th grader from that same town’s high school) can communicate together about similar art interests using 1:1 technology.

People sometimes see computers as a tool primarily for enhancing science, technology, language arts, and math education. Using the 1:1 technology program, we have the ability to dramatically improve/expand education in the arts.


About the author: Mark Pullen, 1:1 classroom teacher, on behalf of Worth Ave. Group.