George Lucas Educational Foundation

e-learning for visual arts

e-learning for visual arts

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In this era of budget crunches I am afraid that some school districts will use e-learning as a substitute for hands-on learning. In my district they are already toying with idea. By doing so (on a high school level) one teacher can be responsible for any number of students at multiple sites. To me this is using technology as a substitute for actual exploration instead of using technology to enhance a class with a teacher in person. This is also different than distance learning where one class can visit multiple classes or visit exhibitions electronically. e-learning for the visual arts has some worrisome consequences.

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Hubert V. Yee's picture
Hubert V. Yee
social media and marketing manager of startup

Hi Joani,

That's an important issue that educators and parents/ guardians need to discuss in this age of technological explosion. Can you share with me some of the ideal uses for technology in the visual arts?

Brad Rathgeber's picture
Brad Rathgeber
Director of Online School for Girls

Hi, Joani--

I agree with you that there can be some downsides to e-learning... but, I also think that there are some opportunities that we can bring students and adults (professional development) through e-learning that we coud never make possible in person. Wanted to share an example of one such P.D. course that we are running through the Online School for Girls that connects teachers across the country with professionals on Broadway:

Hope this perspective helps.

- Brad

Gary Poulton's picture
Gary Poulton
Senior High School Visual Art, Photography and Design teacher. Australia

There are certainly some issues here. If used intelligently to support students in their studies and to allow the teacher some flexibility in delivering content as Joani suggests in her original post and which is also supported in spirit by Brad Rathgeber's example then all's well and good. But to substitute it for classroom teaching reduces both teacher and student to a commodities/resource relationship. The intrinsic connection between teacher and student is eroded. The race to the bottom is not a game to be played in an arena as valuable as education.

Kimberly Waldin's picture
Kimberly Waldin
Performing Arts Consultant

E-Learning can open up doorways and lead to exciting lessons, and certainly, the creative industries include artwork created using technology. E-learning should not and must not serve as a replacement when teaching the visual arts, however. The tactile experience of choosing, using, and manipulating materials is as much part of the process of creation as it is a method of communication, and the teacher plays a vital role in that process that can only be fulfilled through their physical presence and participation. Furthermore, a tremendous amount of artwork worth studying for multiple reasons, including the role of the arts in history and society, are made in traditional mediums, and no matter how advanced the technology, can only be experienced best when in person. Countless research has demonstrated that students achieve far better in core content when their education includes a healthy dose of the arts. Employers of today and the future seek creative and innovative individuals for within the growing world market, and did you know that the second largest import of the United States is our culture? We cannot doom our children to an education that contains an emaciated curriculum, or worse, to nothing but a curriculum based on the contents of standardized testing.

Ms. Vivian's picture
Ms. Vivian
I teach Theater Arts at California pubic schools, K-12.

I believe technology and e-learning can be helpful tools in teaching, but these should never become a complete substitute for hands-on learning.

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