Digital Artwork, 21st C Skills, & Stop Motion - Digital Literacy Dover

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Digital Artwork, 21st C Skills, & Stop Motion

What happens if you take 180 Grade 3 students, 2 magnificent Art Teachers, 24 retort stands, clamps and bosses from the High School Science Department (thank you Elaine and Martin!) and 24 iPod touches?

Well, you achieve a level of creativity that is truly inspiring—and that is the only word to describe the fever pitch that has been Grade 3 Art classes this past month, the synergy between 'real life' art work (paper, scissors, paint) and the literal bringing to LIFE of these creations using the stop motion animation via the iPod touch app was exactly that, INSPIRING. You don't need to look and further than this is to see the true embodiment of the '4 Cs' of 21st Century Learning in action.

See below for just a handful of creations, there are many more of like these, all of them are unique ...

In the Partnership framework, the Four Cs make up the “Learning and Innovation Skills” and are as follows:

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
3. Communication and Collaboration

For creativity and innovation, the framework emphasises Thinking Creatively (brainstorming techniques, creating new ideas, refining and evaluating ideas), Working Creatively with Others (communicating new ideas, being open to diverse perspectives, demonstrating orginality, viewing failure as part of the process) and Implementing Innovations (Acting on creative ideas and contributing to a field). These are terrific guideposts.

A little closer to home, our own UWCSEA Profile describes students who are:
  • Critical thinker and problem solvers
  • Creative and innovative, 
  • Collaborative and Communicators

A brief look at Siân and Caroline's learning intentions for this unit reveals how powerful this kind for activity is in providing experiences that facilitate this kind of learning:
  • How to use animation software to retell a story. 
  • How the creative preparation for an animation differs from other forms of art 
  • How to use mixed media to create scenes and characters. 
  • Look critically at their animation and consider how it can be changed. 

Likewise the assessment criteria emphasised most of the 4 Cs. Children were expected to:
  • Produce a 15 to 20 second piece of sop motion animation. 
  • Create a short, imaginative story that can be recreated through art work and animation. [Creativity and Innovation] 
  • Use a variety of materials to make scenes and characters. 
  • Talk about the animation process using art/animation vocabulary and describe how their project was successful. [Communication and Collaboration] 

But wait! I hear you say, what about problem solving?

Watching the students in action it also became quickly evident that there was a great deal of 'Critical Thinking and Problem Solving' happening—not something the teachers had expected or consciously planned for but, I can assure you, if you ask them now they will tell you that this became a very powerful aspect of the students' learning - from assembling and adjusting the clamps, to the realisation that they need to storyboard their animation to trouble shooting issues with the App, to making judicious choices about the kinds of materials that would help them to tell their stories—even logical mathematical reasoning as they wrestled with frame rates per second!

So the question is, how do we really teach creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration? These are right brain skills, those that are most difficult to teach in a codified, regimented way. With most school systems now fixated on measurable outcomes (usually test scores), how do we make these Four Cs a priority when they are so hard to measure? Well one way is through digital Art.

I’m looking forward to exploring this question with our Art teachers, who will hopefully inspire many other teachers to create more of these kinds of learning activities.

I think what excites me the most about this use of ICT is it resists polarisation, the old, paper vs pixels arguments become meaningless in this kind of context,  we don't need to argue or choose; reality and virtuality can work in synergistic harmony to create learning experience that are truly and uniquely '21st Century'.

Anyway enough about that, here's another video:

Want to see more?

All images and videos provided by Siân Johns.

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