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Blog . iPad art education: not just college anymore
iPads as educational tools have been used for writing, pattern recognition, language development, and fine motor development in young children... so why not early art education? Two elementary school teachers have stepped up to that challenge with some astounding results. At first I was apprehensive. The smell of freshly sharpened crayon, paste, fingerpaint, and construction paper are an integral part of my memory of elementary school art classes. We made popsicle stick constructions, glued beads on things, threw glitter, used markers. That was art education in the early 90s. There might have been a computer somewhere, but it was for the teacher. No way us grubby little children would be allowed to touch an expensive and delicate machine, and even if we were, digital art was still in its infancy then. There wouldn't have been much for us to do. So papier mache it was. But those days are long gone. Digital media has seeped into every aspect of our culture and lives. Younger children are becoming proficient in the basics of web navigation, word processing, and email. So why not creativity? Well, two elementary school teachers in Illinois and New Jersey, respectively, have the nerve to ask just that. And the iPad, with its intuitive interface and its ability to take disinfectant wipes like a champ, was their device of choice to explore this concept. [caption id="attachment_2775" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="I can't help but imagine her smearing that iPad with grape jelly"][/caption] Like I said, I was skeptical. I was nervous. These kids don't know what they're playing with. If it breaks, it costs the teachers out of pocket to replace them. If they fill the speaker holes on the back with play dough, is that covered under applecare? And most important to me: how will early use of a digital tablet platform impact positively or negatively on their future ability to apply art knowledge to other platforms and other media? That question won't be answered until they grow up. But for now, all my fears were assuaged the second I saw this piece of student work: My Puppet Pal Fairytale from Tricia Fuglestad on Vimeo. Oh, right. I forgot, in all my grown-up-ness what art education is for little kids: it's play. It's fun. Kids don't ask whether building with Legos is more developmentally beneficial than making animations about princesses, they just do it. Kids learn through touch and through play. To be honest, looking back, if more of my classmates at that age had gotten basic digital art skills, they might have better websites now. It would have set the stage for them to learn on a digital platform, through an intermediary "stepping stone" between paper and crayon, and the big intimidating desktop with all its whirring parts and complex features. To be honest, the use of tablets in early art education could be wonderful for the adults the kids will become, but more immediately, it's great for who they are now. They are having the time of their lives, and learning principles of design, animation, photography, and color that can set the stage for a lifetime of artistic curiosity and passion. And who am I to argue with that? Read the interview with the teachers Here The gallery of student made work is Here