One of the big things these last two years of teaching has taught me is that mobile devices are here to stay and are very much ubiquitous elements in our students’ lives; they MUST be part of all curricular design considerations from now on!
My students, be they secondary or elementary age almost uniformly come to school with smartphones or other mobile devices… In a nutshell, they are connected all the time. In recent teacher training we unpack the need for Media Literacy in the classroom as a way of cautioning our students against the perceptions lived dangers of the World Wide Web and all the internet contains, but are we also taking a real proactive approach to teaching them the potential and positive uses of this tool? So far, I feel the answer remains negative.
One of my mentors, Dr. Juan-Carlos Castro (previous chair of the Art Ed department at Concordia Univ.) wrote a thesis and a multitude of inspiring articles that propelled me to want to learn more on the subject. Having delved into the amazing teaching/learning methods of the International Baccalaureate program (this past year), I realized we need to use mobile tools to help our students document their reflections and building of understanding… besides, they already know how to use their devices way better than most of their teachers. While it may appear they are addicted to them, mostly because we only catch them on social media, they know how to use all the gadgets and apps we are trying desperately to catch-up on. I encouraged another mentor, Sylvie Allard (IB-MYP arts coordinator at Pierrefonds Community High School) to push the students to use their phones to add visual documentation to all their process journal entries, instead of continuously fighting the students to put down their phones. They needed up with stronger reflections and found more productive uses for their phones… they also found additional reason to help each other out when some didn’t have phones.
The next step would be to use mobile photography, specifically lessons on composition to illustrate art concepts such as rule of thirds, and the ideas about colour theory, chiaroscuro, and how to use lines for vanishing points and perspectives. After all, isn’t art education really about giving the students’ ways of seeing and broadening possible perspectives?
Essentially, I took this course to add more arrows to my ever-growing quiver of teaching tools and I am excited to share with my students this wider understanding of a tool they already love to use.