This month, I was honored to be invited to present some of the work I’ve done with students (merging art and technology to educators and artists) at the Second Columbia Teacher’s College Creative Technologies Symposium. The symposium is a wonderful program run by the directors of the art education department of Columbia Teacher’s College. It includes short presentations, exhibitions, and really dynamic, contemporary connections between art, education, and technology.
Technology and The Arts
Rather than focus too much on any one technology that might be outdated, or a lesson that might be limited. I chose to focus on the mindset educators and artists need to successfully use technology for art in creative ways. One of the basic principles of this mindset is the idea of “the hack”. Which basically means, adapting emerging technologies for your own creative purposes. This is a principle found not just in the best art and technology teachers, but in all great teachers and innovative people in general.
Innovative educators utilize everything in their learning arsenal. That means finding ways to incorporate emerging technologies for creative, and educational means.
Hacking technology for the classroom is a way to bring inspiration and creativity to your students. Popular social media and creative technologies such as: Vine, Instagram, Blogger, SKYPE, Google Hangout, YouTube, Periscope, and Meercat all have great uses for STEAM in the classroom. Plenty of educators have found interesting and non-traditional means of incorporating them into teaching.
This idea of hacking technology for different purposes runs deep. It’s the foundation for many of our most popular technologies themselves.
In the tech world, it’s a concept known as the “pivot”. It might be hard to believe but Instagram, one of the most popular photography apps was originally a geo-location app similar to Foursquare. Social networking giant Twitter actually began as a personal podcasting service. And, the video platform Youtube started out as a video dating service. There is a lesson to be learned from these pivots. That lesson being you shouldn’t use technology solely for its intended purpose.
As a good educator, you must also be a good problem solver. One of the major problems we face in education is figuring out what the 21st century classroom will evolve into and how to steer it in the right direction. Working with emerging technologies and hacking them for use in our teaching is fast becoming a necessity. The key is to never be limited by the label or instruction manual – use your creativity and let technology work for you.
Tim Needles is art and media teacher at Smithtown High School East in New York. He has been the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Power of Art Award, was recognized by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, and has worked as an Adobe Master Teacher and Education Leader. Tim is also a artist, writer, and performer who continues to exhibit and perform regularly. His work has been featured on NPR as well as in the New York Times and at the Columbus Museum of Art.