Cynic to Believer - Digital Promise

Cynic to Believer

December 1, 2014 | By

When, I first began, I had no idea how I was going to use digital technology in an art class where it is necessary to remain in the dark ages of paper and gasp…a pencil!

My Digital World
Not so comfortable, often unknown…Lot’s of learning

In the beginning of the year, I was tasked with one class of digital art. I am not a digital art person and I had very little direction for the class. I was given the idea “it will be a flexible learning lab where students will make posters for teachers…” I had to come up with the format, the tasks, and all the logistics for the class. I decided to put them in design teams and have them act like they are working for real “customers” with each group member having a designated role. One student is consultant and they are responsible for consulting with the customers, relaying what the customer wants with the team, showing them drafts of the work, and making sure the customer has a good experience with the newly christened “ABCPrintingBulls.” This worked well for a week. Then I realized there was down time between communicating with customers and creating posters. Downtime=Trouble with middle schoolers. I decided to make a weekly assignment that I posted on google classroom that also needed to be completed by every individual. The assignments include research on marketing techniques, the principles of design and other pertinent things for the class. The class literally became an all digital class. I had to borrow a pen from a student to write an office pass because I didn’t even have pens or paper in the flexible learning lab.

I was also given a release period to help Lisa Harrison troubleshoot, smooth out the kinks for teachers, and help her manage the digital promise work load. Again, all digital.

Que the divide.

My cozy, Archiac non-digital world

The rest of my day I went back to my art room where I am way more comfortable. I can manipulate mediums like pencils and paint as second nature. Paper is not only an essential but a wonderfully nostalgic thing. Even the smell makes me happy. So low tech, I created a google classroom but never even posted to codes for the kids. I was only going to use it for extra credit so who cared besides the three kids who would use it?

Once we got the iPads, I figured I was given the release period and should be a model in iPad usage for the other teachers. If the art teacher can use it, they can too. I started actually looking into apps I could use in an art room and discovered Adobe Ideas which allows students to import a photo, and draw over it using their finger or a stylus. This could be a solution for the rough draft/planning phase. A lot of students put too much effort into their first drafts and would lament when I told them they had to do a final draft on the more expensive art paper.


Now, I have completely flipped and use technology constantly in all my classes to the point where I am annoyed with the students who do not have their iPads yet, forget them at home, or don’t have them charged. They are as essential as their pencils.

I started using google classroom regularly for all sorts of assignments including the notes I used to do on paper, their rough draft submissions from Adobe Ideas, and submitting their photos they use as inspiration for their art. I have now even taken it a step further and started using google forms as a vehicle for self critique and peer grading.

Consider me a convert… with a little cynicism to keep things realistic.


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