Technology: opening new artistic frontiers

Amy Farrelly, photography and lens-based media teacher at Rugby School, shares her experience of how tech is impacting the teaching of arts subjects

As society’s digital narrative continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever for educators to keep abreast of the tools and technologies which nurture students’ growth and help to unlock their potential.

Digital innovation is now an essential element of the classroom, presenting new ways to inspire and engage pupils, rather than just an added advantage to their learning.

Rugby School is constantly seeking out new digital tools and devices to expand the boundaries of learning and equip students with the skills they need to succeed. Taking this approach reflects our mission to not only guide and mentor students in their academic pursuits, but to also foster their passions and aspirations.

New gateways to creativity

As a teacher of photography and lens-based media, I am very aware of the impact of technology on the arts, as it becomes even more intertwined with artistic disciplines. Whether it’s expanding the horizons of creativity, streamlining production processes or providing new ways to experiment with different types of media, it’s clear that technology presents artists with new possibilities.

As contemporary artists explore the infinite combinations presented by digital innovation, it is my responsibility as an educator to facilitate similar opportunities for those I teach. Pupils are encouraged to embrace and understand the evolving nature of art, which is so susceptible to new innovations and experiences. It’s important for today’s students to have access to new tools and technologies that push the boundaries of what they’re capable of. New technologies act as a stimulus for youngsters, cultivating their interest in artistic disciplines and providing them with a different perspective through which they can pursue the subject.

I can highlight the strengths of integrating technology and art by showcasing examples in which digital innovations have created added depth and complexity to pieces. Whether it’s demonstrating how photography has influenced abstract compositions or showcasing how contemporary artists, such as David Hockney, are utilizing mixed reality, it’s important students are aware of these innovations and inspired by this approach to the discipline.

By embracing digital tools themselves, students become accustomed to experimenting with techniques, such as digital inking, as naturally as they would a paintbrush and canvas. It’s great to see this level of experimentation, which enriches their work as well as their understanding of how the art world is progressing. Our adoption of Microsoft Surface Studios is a case in point. We’re seeing a complete transformation in the way learning is approached. Students are even more engaged, and they’re applying more sophisticated and complex techniques, resulting in some impressive work.

The resolution of the devices, the quality of the colours and the ability to access minute details through zoom means there’s more intricacy and maturity in student’s output, and we’re seeing a narrowing achievement gap as a result.

The devices also feel natural and intuitive. Students adapt to them with ease and this, in turn, spurs their creative process.

These recent innovations also encourage students to work in a multi-dimensional way.

From still photography projects to animation and filmmaking, they can use technology and devices to experiment and layer different techniques to produce pieces that are immersive and reflect the cutting-edge nature of contemporary art. The quality and work is rising dramatically and I believe this is a direct result of this new technology.

Amy Farrelly

Framing the future

Incorporating new technologies and innovations into the educational process have been used to great effect at Rugby School. Opportunities for our students are endless and their drive and passion to succeed is more evident than ever before. As a photography teacher, keeping pace with technical advances enables me to guide and mentor the artists of tomorrow. These new techniques and digital tools are stimulating students’ creativity, enriching their work and preparing them for a digital revolution.

I am excited to be part of this technology journey, to be in education at a time when the arts are meeting innovation and to watch students develop, grow and keep expanding the boundaries of creative subjects.

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