This, my most recent Masters Program course, is entitled “Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas.” It sounds generic at first glance, but has been anything but. This course has pushed each member to develop very specific, very practical resources to put technology to use in her classroom immediately, and challenged each teacher to do so and share the results. It has been perhaps the most useful and applicable higher-education course I can remember taking. I am leaving this course with a G.A.M.E. (G-goal, A-action, M-monitor, E-evaluate), and with a three-lesson unit plan that I can implement immediately as a recurring project in my curriculum.
My G.A.M.E. Plan was to encourage more student reflection during and after a project. It has been a concern of mine that the rush to finish projects, grade them and move on has created an environment where projects and skills are taught in isolation, and students aren’t encouraged to look back on what they’ve done (or not done) before moving on to the next lesson. Self-reflection is not a skill that is important only in an Art Class. Self-reflection is valuable to any member of the workforce with a desire to do a better job tomorrow than was done today. Rolling out my GAME plan during this course was a challenge, as I am home with my son and on maternity leave, so instead of being able to test out my theories on self-reflection, I couldn’t help but second guess, re-research and talk to people about them! Perhaps this was for the better, as a little self reflection on my own part will certainly benefit my students once I am able to put my research to use. Reading about other teachers’ GAME plans has been of great value to me, and I have a list of things to try myself because of their ideas. Developing a GAME plan to encourage self-reflection amongst my students has rededicated me to making sure that all of the things I choose to spend time on in my classroom is deliberate and not only develops skills important to Art, but broader life skills as well.
Going forward, I have come to realize that technology integration is necessary, not just because it is a tool that puts near limitless information and capabilities at our fingertips, but because it is the language with which my students communicate. And the language of technology is visual. Any Art teacher that does not harness the internet and computers to teach students lessons about the applicability and importance of professional artists in the age of the internet is missing an important part of what they should be teaching their students. Students (as consumers, as learners, as citizens) need to be visually savvy in a world where everyone is plugged in and nearly everything is filled with subtle messages, symbols and advertisements. I made the mistake of thinking that as an instructor it would be nearly impossible to integrate technology into a Fine Art class whose curriculum dictates the teaching of drawing, painting and sculpture. But there are so many more ways to use technology, from video conferencing with professional artists and gallerists, to looking up youtube videos on technique and conducting critiques online. Technology is the future, it’s the language our students speak.