Sunday, February 24, 2013

Problem Based Instruction and a Digital Narrative

Eyes alight with sudden insight, as one student’s verbal narrative becomes a visual one for peers in one physical classroom and others at a distant location. Student interactivity instantly becomes infinitely closer to a real, time and space conversation that might not be achievable within any other context.  The integration of social networking in problem-based instruction broadens the student’s learning experience providing for creative and cognitive growth, across a broad range of options technical and instructional opportunities within independent and collaborative settings.
My thoughts have begun to move from visual art instruction focused on higher-order thinking and fine art image development on an individual basis, toward integration of digital and interactive means for enhancement of creative expression. While visual art creation is noted, for being a solitary self-directed pursuit, integration of student dialogue into the digital arena provides access to a creative voice that contributing to deeper understanding of art and art making. This benefits both, the individual and the community of artists, providing for a disciplined approach to image development, construction, setting the student artist in a good position for the world beyond the classroom.
These last 7 weeks have been focused on instructional goals for enhancing self-directed practices for the student artist within an active learning experience. Within this context, Problem Based and Inquiry methods take the predominant spot in establishing standards for student learning. The Actions that I have incorporated to meet these goals are three problem-based learning experiences that include, establishment of a blog for interaction by Advanced Art students, and a more extensive experience for, critical review of Advanced Placement portfolio development between peers. A third learning experience is the development of a concept mapping experience in which students use technology to gain understanding of the value of the art museum as a resource for student learning.
The first blog activity consists of a social networking opportunity that adds another platform in which a student can dialogue with peers and develop a more literate voice for establishing, and sustaining aesthetic discourse in the fine arts. This can be a stepping off point for a continued conversation beyond the classroom.
The focus for the second blog plan is on the development of criticism that has direct application to the physical development of visual art. This social networking opportunity advances the student beyond blog use for the purpose of aesthetic discourse. The student is using the blog for interactive dialogue that relates directly to the search for, physical and visual solutions to image development. The results of critical dialogue will be used by the student to advance the quality of the image produced by the student for their Advanced Placement Studio Art Portfolio’s.
The third plan consists of incorporating concept-mapping software into a lesson based upon a virtual and a physical field trip. While the product for this lesson does not consist of a physical product, the process of developing an understanding of the making of art from an authentic historic and aesthetic viewpoint provides the student with a metacognitive learning experience that will benefit the student on a number of levels. The process of using software to create a virtual field trip prior to a physical visit presents the student with a more realistic view of the physical visit. The use of concept mapping assists the student in establishing the goals necessary for a productive learning experience that makes for easier documentation and assessment. The software also presents the student with the virtual visit from which to gain a more learned view of the museum if a physical visit is not feasible for reasons of financial difficulties or distance.
All three approaches are directed toward understanding the problem of how the study of, and making of art can be enhanced and advanced using higher end creative thinking skills. This using well developed reflective practice within a technology rich learning environment.. All three incorporate a mix of Whole Class, Small Group. Distance, and Self Directed learning experiences, providing an adaptive learning experience for students that might have different learning strengths.
I will need to address a number of considerations for more effective results.  I am very pleased with the quality and depth to which students have participated in the lesson work. The positive aspect is that the students involved are advanced art students.  They have had experience writing, and with hand written, verbal, and group critiques. These have provided favorable results once students became accustomed to the task. Where I can see difficulty would be with a group of students that have mixed creative and cognitive abilities. Here I believe is where the strength of collaborative efforts and provision for usage of a wide array of reflective tools will be of benefit to the students. Beyond this, the use of an instructional game plan, monitoring student and assessment, giving greater consideration for formative assessment and review, and the choice of an appropriate technology, will benefit the student’s ability for reflection, critical dialogue and articulation, individually or as a group.