Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Learning and Teaching Art: Through Social Media

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Learning and Teaching Art: Through Social Media

Article excerpt

I find I don't really see what is going on other than in my own thing in class. . . you get more ideas by looking at other people's work. . . in class, I always tend to be peeking over, I don't talk to anybody, so... online is easier. It is less awkward. (Student participant Gaelan Knoll)

Student participant, Gaelan Knoll,' had never taken a photography course in high school. Through his participation in this online social media study, he was able to produce a portfolio of photographic works that articulated complex ideas through image and text. The difference between classroom-based learning and learning online, for Knoll, was that he attributed his learning to more frequent looking at and responding to his fellow participants' images and ideas. In particular, he was able to build confidence and positive affect in his learning and artmaking by being able to engage with his classmates' work differently. He was not alone in this regard. His fellow participants, both high school students and art teachers, described a shift in learning -one that is more socially influenced, asynchronous, dynamic, and reciprocal. Knoll's statement illustrates how his learning, especially in art, is no longer limited to a classroom. This may apply also to what and who is considered a teacher beyond a limit of one individual. What Knoll's remarks also point to more broadly is the increasingly social nature of learning through new technologies. These shifts raise new questions for how we can teach art in the 21st century, and this essay begins to offer insights into the question of how the dynamics of learning and teaching art changes.

Learning Through Social Media

Social media is defined in this study as digital technologies that enable social interaction through a variety of forms and channels. Interaction through social media can occur through a variety of ways, from Internet browsers to mobile phones (see boyd & Elison, 2007). Participation through and with social media is an opening for teens to socially relate with each other in new contexts not limited to school, home, or a fixed time. Participation with and through social media is not limited to building social relationships; it can also be driven by specific interests of users (Ito, Horst, Bittanti, boyd, Herr-Stephenson & Lange, 2008). This can include belonging to and participating in specialized groups that may include (but are not limited to) visual arts such as anime and comic art, video editing, photography, creative writing, fandom groups around reality television shows, and other creative activities (Jenkins, 2003, 2006; Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2007; Rheingold, 2007).

Participatory cultures have existed long before the Internet and social media (Jenkins, 2006). Yet, social media has amplified the ability for many different kinds of people to gather across time and space to share ideas. Understanding the reciprocal and dynamic systems of teaching and learning found in these types of social media environments requires taking into account an individual's learning (Piaget & lnhelder, 2000) in relationship to the social influences of learning (Vygotsky & Cole, 1978). The social influences of learning art in classrooms is nothing new (Hagaman, 1990; Wilson, 2004; Wolf, 1993); however, what is new and needed is an understanding of learning that addresses the reciprocal dynamics of exchanges between individuals and social collectives2 through social media.

The field of art education offers a number of threads regarding digital media research and learning communities. Digital media can be used as a way of critically engaging with visual culture and building communities of resistance (Darts, 2004, 2007) in networked society (Sweeny, 2004). Learning communities have also been organized and supported through the creation of interactive social and ecological justice websites (Julian, 1996; Krug, 1997). Further, learning communities have explored how [AQ: the? …

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