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The Role of Technology in Modern Art Education

Iggy teaching how to draw character portrait digital art
Instructor Iggy teaches Cartooning & Anime virtually. As an online art school, technology helps us reach students around the world, making art education more accessible!

In the last decade, significant transformations have occurred within education systems. Teachers have adjusted their teaching approaches due to the rise of online and digital tools. While digital tools have been present for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a substantial change. With educational institutions facing prolonged closures, educators had to embrace a new teaching paradigm. E-learning emerged as the predominant method. Presently, a multitude of online platforms facilitate resource sharing, lesson dissemination, and academic institution management.

Initially met with some reluctance, the transition to this new form of learning soon revealed its positive impact. Educators recognized that digital tools were enhancing the traditional learning setting. Students pursuing visual arts and design programs experienced expanded opportunities as online courses, learning platforms, and digital tools necessitated more interactive and engaging multimedia content.

Incorporating Technology Into the Arts

Student artists of all age groups exhibit a strong proficiency in utilizing tablets and phones for drawing, sketching, shading, and painting. Art educators, who aim to leverage technology to foster and enhance students’ contemporary learning skills, display a clear readiness to adopt this new classroom model. 

As highlighted in the National Education Union's State of Education report from the previous year, 81% of art teachers recognize the positive impact of technology on students' creativity, enabling them to discover new artistic possibilities and techniques.

Digital Art Tools

Traditional art materials like brushes, canvases, and clay now coexist with digital drawing tablets, graphic design software, and 3D modeling tools. These digital tools offer students a wider range of artistic exploration. This enables them to experiment with various techniques, styles, and art forms. Digital art tools have streamlined the creation and distribution of artwork, opening new avenues for careers in fields such as animation, game design, and digital marketing. Additionally, digital art resources provide students with the flexibility of unlimited undo/redo options, empowering them to innovate and correct mistakes fearlessly.

Advanced software programs and digital platforms facilitate collaborative projects, allowing artists from around the world to work together seamlessly. This makes them eligible for careers in higher education and opportunities in creative industries globally. In higher education, these tools equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the evolving landscape of artistic industries, ensuring they are well-prepared for future opportunities and challenges.

Contemporary drawing tools play a crucial role in teaching students essential art principles such as spatial depth, perspective, color theory, and three-dimensional forms. Acer, a prominent technology provider, highlighted in a 2019 article the accessibility and credibility of these digital tools:

"A simple mouse click can produce more accurate shapes and brushstrokes than a novice digital artist working with physical tools, blurring the lines between digital and traditional art creation."

Adaptive Learning and Augmented Reality

Colorful moving graphics projected onto a person's face

The initial industries to experience the advantages of extended reality were the gaming and entertainment sectors. Subsequently, galleries, museums, and individual artists began collaborating with VR and AR development companies. An early instance of augmented reality in art can be seen in the work of Japanese artist Nubumichi Asai

In creating an app that overlays patterns onto a moving face, Asai sought the expertise of a team of tech specialists and makeup artists. This software has the ability to detect facial features and project designs that conform precisely to its contours. 

Google's remarkable virtual reality art tool, Tilt Brush, enables artists to fully engage with their creations and examine them from different perspectives, allowing for the presentation of massive objects suspended in the air, defying the constraints of gravity.

Audience-driven Creation

The introduction of social media has sparked a significant revolution in our daily routines. The early stages of platforms like MySpace and the initial iteration of Facebook now appear distant due to the rapid progress of this industry. 

Presently, we have the ability to observe the real-time activities of others through platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, among others, regardless of whether they have a small following or are celebrities with millions of followers. 

Businesses have also embraced this trend, recognizing their potential to influence a brand's image positively or negatively, resulting in most companies considering a proficient social media manager essential.

Revolutionizing Arts Education with New Technologies

Art education has evolved significantly from the days of solely teaching painting, sketching, drawing, and sculpting using traditional physical materials. In today's modern classrooms and with the rise of remote learning, art has transitioned into the digital realm, surpassing traditional boundaries.

Through the utilization of computer systems and software, students now have the capability to replicate and produce digital creations akin to those crafted with paper, canvas, pencils, paint, and other conventional mediums. This shift towards learning digital art has not only expanded creative possibilities but has also unlocked a diverse array of career pathways.

Improving Art Education Using Digital Tools

Digital art app logos: FireAlpaca, Blender, Krita, MediBang, GIMP

Integrating digital media into the curriculum requires careful planning and execution. Educators can begin by pinpointing where digital media fits with learning objectives in the curriculum. Today, there are lots of free digital art software for classrooms that make learning easy and accessible for all. They can be used to explore including animation projects, digital storytelling tasks, graphic design or interactive media creation exercises. Here are a few activity concepts that merge digital media with art education:

  • Digital storytelling project: Task students with developing a digital storytelling endeavor utilizing animation or multimedia tools. They can produce animated videos, interactive presentations, or digital narratives to convey their comprehension of a specific topic or idea.

  • 2D animation and stop motion animation: Introduce students to the world of animation, where they craft animated films by recording live actions. Assign students to create concise animations to illustrate a story, elucidate a concept, or bring historical events to light.

  • Virtual art gallery: Encourage students to curate and construct a virtual gallery using digital media. They have the opportunity to generate digital artwork, photography, or even 3D models and utilize platforms like websites, online galleries, or virtual reality tools to exhibit their creations. This exercise enables students to explore diverse art forms while enhancing their digital design and curation capabilities.

  • Public service announcement (PSA) videos: Challenge students to produce PSA videos addressing social issues, health topics, or environmental concerns through animation or video editing tools. Students can conduct research, create storyboards, and develop compelling videos that inform and raise awareness among their peers.

Technology Empowers Artists and Educators

The fusion of art and technology empowers both artists and audiences. Artists can now reach a global audience with a simple 'share' on social media, transcending cultural and social barriers. The traditional routes to success have shifted due to the Internet. As technology evolves, so does art, with significant impacts on the arts. It has created numerous opportunities for artists, expanding the range of techniques available. Artists can now create on digital platforms as effectively as they can on traditional mediums. Art educators now have access to an abundance of teaching tools and art resources for teachers, allowing them to easily facilitate learning in modern classrooms with the help of technology.

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