Teachers bring new technology into the classroom

With tablets, smart boards and 3D printers, technology plays in increasingly important role in schools. The Creative Technology Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College trains future educators on how to bring tech into art class. Our story is part of American Graduate, a project made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


With tablets, SMART boards, and 3-D printers, technology plays an increasingly important role in schools.

The Creative Technologies Program at Columbia University's Teachers College trains future educators on how to bring tech into art class.

Reporter Andrea Vasquez sat in on a class and found out that it's not about replacing canvas with screens, but adding to students' artistic arsenals.

Our story is part of American Graduate, a project made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities find ways to keep students on the path to graduation.

Traditionally, art classes have looked kind of like this.

But new technologies, like 3-D printing, which have already made their way into artists' studios, may soon be alongside the pencils and paintbrushes in classrooms.

It's important to understand the technologies, 'cause they're out there in the world, as well.

So to have an understanding of those technologies and be able to use them in your art-making process, I think that's empowering.

At Columbia University's Teachers College, a new certificate program called Creative Technologies trains future teachers on how to integrate new tools and media into their art lessons.

Making always has existed, right?

And it was always very important for art education, but now it's different because it is digitally enhanced and technological-advanced making.

This class lets us think about how to balance technology and traditional art.

A lot of children today are already exposed to technology, so I think it's for educators to really step ahead and experience first and then introduce the good technology for children.

We'll address physical computing, programming, creative coding, and digital fabrication.

Richard Jochum teaches a basic survey class in the program.

Today he's teaching students to use design software and a 3-D printer to create simple objects.

One of the most important things for students is to make connections with traditional materials so that the two don't get polarized or antagonized.

The main thing we are trying to achieve is for them to make bridges to expand the materials, because art education is expanding as a field.

Technologies like laser cutters and 3-D printers are opening a world of new possibilities for artists and art educators, but instead of tossing the paint and canvas, they're adding these to their toolbox.

Students in this class actually, for their final project, have to roll the dice.

One has old media, one has new media, and one has the theme that they'll have to use to integrate both.

If you're taking materials, and you're playing with them and you're building with them and you're creating new things, it teaches you to be flexible.

It teaches you to be creative, it teaches you to be imaginative -- all the so-called 21st-century skills that everybody's talking about.

Increasingly, educators are challenged to integrate new gadgets in class so they're used as learning tools, rather than distractions.

I think that there is quite a lot of evidence now that having children in front of screens for inordinate amounts of time during every day has an inverse relationship to the development of their academic skills, and what we have to learn, I think, in education is how we balance these different ways of leaning so that they infuse each other, they support each other, and they don't, in a sense, cancel each other out.

When we make lesson plans, we think how the children of that specific target age would work on specific projects.

So we would think about their developmental age and how this media would affect them at school and also outside school.

As new technologies are constantly appearing in our daily lives, learning to adapt and use these tools for new tasks and creations is a lesson in itself.

What we have now is the advent of a technology and technological tools, the potential of which we haven't even begun to think of.

The rapidity with which they're being invented and used is astonishing.

If you feel empowered to take on a new material, then you may actually have a better chance to do the same with the materials that come up in 20 years' time.

Columbia's two-year Creative Technologies Certificate Program passed state approval this year, widening the pipeline for a new breed of teachers.

And then you could say, 'Well, now I want to design another element.'