Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Beyond Online/Remote Art Education Professional Development

Reading about online art education professional development from my colleagues on social media forums, there is a great need for art educators (and teachers in general education) to refine their remote art education curriculum program during this extraordinary time in pandemia.

Let me just say, based on what I know about learning, the best remote art education experiences (or any educational program) are connected to the personal. I am not thinking about personalized learning, but learning that is personal.

During this incredibly difficult time, it is important to set an expectation that regular art making contributions will make up the basis of the online form of one's program. An art making and assessment process that can be sustained without cumbersome interventions by parents and caregivers. An important consideration is that art teachers can support this process with materials and inspiration.

Because we are living in a precarious point in history and because the cognitive, emotive and environmental conditions of our students are aspects of their being we cannot control, teachers must be tolerant. We must be tolerant of the child's output and tolerant of the kinds of art the child is willing to produce on their own. If the child is provided opportunity to practice what it is that artists do, they are truly empowered and and their learning situated in the generation of their own tasks instead of being tasked by a task master. Children will have been granted artistic freedom, learn about agency and through dialogue with one's art teacher, taking the initiative just as real artists must do. Going beyond the given information is an artistic attribute that can be developed by one's self, but is best learned through dialogue with mentors and peers. One aspect of situated studio learning that I have observed is a natural progression of creative growth.

From my own experience a curriculum that provides autonomous learning conditions is an educational framework where rich creative experiences can emerge. I am suggesting that emergent curriculum experiences are feasible for art teachers who work with general populations of children to consider as the basis for their online/remote art programs. 

I believe the important thing for art teachers to do within this new educational landscape, is to provide pathways for students to make art with whatever materials they have in their homes and develop art based on the child's time sensitive, existential interests and concerns. 

There are several critical pieces here. One, children need inspiration to create their art and two, children need skills, knowledge and hardware to document and share their experiences with their art teacher. Once these elements are established in an online art education program, the dialogue, reflection and learning that takes place can be limitless.  

From my perspective, the important thing in setting up a remote learning program is to provide a space where a process based on the learning cycle can play out.

The caveat for art teachers who pay substantial sums of money in exchange for the promise that somebody else will do the hard work of online art program development for them, is they are missing out on important professional development they can do on there own. Let me just say, it is more beneficial for the children and their art teacher if they invest in the hard work of building their own creative structures from the ground up. 


  1. I really needed to read this today! Last day of school and looking back asking, "How'd I do?" Thanks for the affirmation!
    A question about your illustrations: What do the numbers refer to?
    What technology/form of documentation does your school use?

  2. Thank you, Clyde! I needed to hear this too!