Art Education Aims in the Age of New Media: Moving toward Global Civil Society

By Delacruz, Elizabeth M. | Art Education, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Art Education Aims in the Age of New Media: Moving toward Global Civil Society


Delacruz, Elizabeth M., Art Education


Technology is ubiquitous (Delacruz, 2009b). Kids and families, students and communities are plugged in, cued to the latest electronic developments and diversions, ready to creatively adapt them to their own purposes. Scholars and policy makers are increasingly focused on what teachers need to know about and do with technology. This article is written as a broad, conceptual, and theoretical treatise on the aims of art education in the age of global electronic media, drawing from my own teaching experiences, readings, and insights about the intersections of technology and art education. These aims are actually not as much about technology pedagogy perse as they are about how technology pedagogy may be aligned with growing interests in connecting art education to emerging notions of global1 civil society.

Civil society is broadly defined here as that sphere of society working for the common public good (Delacruz, 2005). I argue that art education as a profession needs to move in the directions described here, but 1 do not argue that it will be easy. The task of connecting art education to these aims is ongoing, eclectic, incomplete, and uncertain work. Teachers' technology- related attitudes, capabilities, and working conditions are central to that work, but more than that, teachers' conceptualizations about the relationships between art education, technology, young people, and world conditions are now of utmost importance.

Technology and Education: Implications for Art Teachers

Surveys give broad snapshots of what art teachers are doing with new technologies (Burton, 2001; Obiokor, 2002; Roland, 2007), but do not detail how they accomplish these things. A handful of scholarly articles written by techno-sawy art teachers give encouraging descriptions of what is possible in art classrooms, with just the right teacher, just the right conditions. Conference presentations and dissertations provide further indication of how some teachers are using technology, but many of these have not reached wider publication. Bypassing traditional print publication venues, teachers are also selfpublishing pedagogical innovations with technology online through websites and blogs (Roland, 2007). Extrapolating from these varied sources, we may conclude that in some educational settings amazing things are possible with new digital media. Beyond the pioneering innovations of these amazing, techno-sawy art teachers, creative technology utilization in art classrooms is sporadic and fraught with difficulties. There is emerging consensus around central concerns relating to technology utilization, some of which are briefly noted here.

Not enough time.

Integrating technology into school settings is difficult, time consuming, and uncompensated work (Delacruz, 2004; Orr, 2004; Roland, 2007)and for anything beyond rudimentary uses of technology, lack of time is cited by teachers as a major issue impeding their utilization of technology - lack of time to learn new technologies and adapt them to classroom practice, lack of time on decent computers, lack of time from tech support, and lack of time with fellow teachers, learning and planning together.

Obsolescence and incompatibility.

Whatever latest equipment, it will be outmoded within a year. The problem with older electronics is not merely obsolescence or maintaining old computers. Old and new technologies (computers, operating systems, software, peripherals, digital cameras, mobile wireless media devices, etc.) do not mix very well, and teachers do not have time to waste on incompatibility snafus. Technical problems impede instructional delivery and stifle teachers' incentives for curricular innovation with emerging technologies, as frustrated teachers often have to wait, sometimes for days, weeks, or months, for assistance.

Competing forces of change and resistance.

Teachers may do many things faster, better, and differently with digital media. But teachers may also be using new technologies in old-fashioned ways, teaching much the same as they did before (Roland, 2007). …

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