Teaching Art in a Connected World: the Possibilities

Aaron Knochel is an assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaching upper division courses in curriculum theory and practice and “technology in the art classroom” in the university’s Art Education program. This past August, Knochel received his PhD in Art Education at Ohio State University, where his research focused on the possibilities and opportunities that new media and technology provide to art education.
He was also one of twelve scholars to take part in the DML Research Hub’s Research Associates Summer Institute 2011. As an artist and an educator, Knochel believes that visual skills and digital literacies serve as strong foundations for designing learning futures that build democratic learning opportunities, and his research’s emphasis is on building theory to understand these opportunities in a digital visual culture. In the video below, Knochel talks about how a participatory culture in an art classroom can lead to a teacher’s deeper understanding and connection to students’ work. Below are just some highlights from the video, but this art educator’s ability to blend the field of art education with digital media and learning will stir your thinking about the representation of the visual arts in the 21st century.

I’m very interested in how arts based community practices might overlap with hacker spaces, how both of those combinations might also be able to attend to some of those disparities that we see that are absolutely associated in socioeconomic frameworks.

My students led me to computer labs and graphics and things like that because they were really energized by what they were doing outside of school. That has continued to fuel a lot of my interest in this area.

A lot of the research, especially in DML, has this character of looking at what students are doing outside of schools as being really important. In my practice and my experience and in my field, quite frankly, we are seeing a lot of that as being so vital. The learning in non-school spaces can really help us understand better and be more effective in schools as well. In art education we take that quite seriously.

One of the things I think they are excited about me bringing to the table is this aspect of technology, bringing the sense of a networked publics, not just isolated software used just to make art, but the more expansive sense of framing a participatory culture in an art classroom. What does that look like? How do we reinvigorate those components in the teacher preparation process so that they not only become equipped but they have a broader, deeper understanding of what their students are involved with inside and outside their classrooms.

Banner image credit: Minneapolis Institute of the Arts

Video production credit: Marc Bacarro