Eight weeks ago I began my current Master’s Program course entitled “Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology.” Initially, that sounded to me like too much jargon, but I understand it now because the course ended up being exactly what it purported. Each week, we examined a different learning theory (Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructionism, Social Constructivism), and viewed it through the lens of teaching strategies, and finally questioned where technology fit in.
At the beginning of the course, after getting a very brief overview of each of the four learning theories, we were asked to explain which of them we thought best described our methodology, to which I supposed that I was a combination of Constructionism and Social Constructivism. Now, I cannot really disagree, because there are elements of both in my Art Room as well as my lessons, but I came to appreciate the role that all four of them play in my classroom. From this point on, I would like to manage my class using Behaviorism (rewarding positive behaviors), create my broad stroke unit plans with Social Constructivism in mind, but also include activities that promote long term retention (Constructivism.) But at the heart of any Art curriculum is undoubtedly Constructionism, as what we do is to teach a concept and ask our students to create something (an artifact) that illustrates her learning.
There were some technology tools introduced to us that I will also be incorporating into my future plans. VoiceThread is one, for sure. With that, students–or groups of them– can create a slideshow and enable others to leave written and verbal comments, an extremely useful tool for critiquing in an Art room. Virtual Field Trips is another. There is a whole world of vicarious experiences that I could be giving to my students both at home and during class: touring ruins, museums and sculpture gardens. This is a resource of which I have only scratched the surface in the past.
Now that I have looked back, I am asked to look forward and give myself two goals toward which to work. The first is one I am almost sheepish to admit, as I am a former professional graphic designer and self proclaimed computer nerd. That is to incorporate more technology into my studio classes. Sure, it’s easy to use technology when you’re teaching computer graphics, but what about Composition & Design (our school’s introductory drawing and painting class) or darkroom photography. My first goal is to use technology in my darkroom class is to let students ‘test drive’ certain darkroom techniques on the computer in Photoshop, so they can plan out what they’d like to do with my very expensive paper and chemicals first before experimenting in the lab. My second goal is to bring technology into my painting class, I can have a Skype video conferencing session with a master painter who can demonstrate techniques and answer questions. I need to think more creatively and use technology to deepen my students’ experiences, and ultimately my own as well.