The recent Association of Independent Schools ICT Conference was entitled, ‘Making It’, so I knew I’d fit right in!
Over two days we ran an arts learning ‘Makerspace’, allowing students to engage with technology and hands-on tools to explore the possibilities. The opportunity to support students as they modelled exploratory ways of working and combined digital tools with traditional art-making materials to produce visual imagery made for an action-packed conference!
Amongst the diverse, experimental work the students produced pentangles, patterns and tessellations. There was a ‘kaleido-garden’, a stunning collection of paper flowers created using patterns on iPads that were manipulated digitally, cut-out and folded. Collaborative, abstract works emerged with pastel and watercolour over printouts flowing from the iPads. At the end of the conference, the student’s works were exhibited and the teachers were amazed at their prolific production over 12 hours of woking time.
Best of all, the students were able to discuss their ideas and processes with teachers as they mingles with conference delegates. Loretto College’s girls encouraged many teachers to use the iPads for art-making for the very first time and even roped a few into art-making collaborations!
Speaking to inspired educators at conferences about our creative students’ capacity to work as problem solvers while engaging with art-making is always a privilege. Seeing their work on a big screen never gets old for me, and I’m always filled with hope for the future of education when I see the looks on the faces of teachers in the audience. The creativity of our children in inspirational and maybe a little infectious!
By exploring the concept of ‘FAIL’, that’s ‘first attempt in learning’ in the Visual Arts classroom, we sparked some great discussions about creativity, innovation and resilience that linked up with the Makerspace concepts at the heart of the conference. I believe that digital devices can support students’ creative confidence, as they move through a variety of design choices, iterations and processes with the ‘power of the undo button’ assisting their exploration to increase risk-taking and divergent thinking. It is also my contention that by trialling processes digitally, using the screen printing app as demo-ed for one example, students can be encourages to make mistakes during experimental or unfamiliar art-making mediums while developing a solid understanding of the ‘hands-on’ method at the same time. It all starts with considered instructional design and an understanding of student learning goals.