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Art through a computer screen

Imagine an art classroom. You may have thought of a paint-splatted room filled with lively children, yet that is no longer the reality for many students across the world.

Even before COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, e-learning had started to transform education, asking teachers to reconsider how to best to teach lessons if not face-to-face.

This is a particular challenge for the creative arts – well-known for its hands-on and collaborative experiences in dance, drama, music, media art, and visual art.

University of Southern Queensland Senior Lecturer (Education) Dr Katie Burke said the answer was to stop trying to adapt, and instead focus on innovation.

“Meaningful learning in the creative arts has traditionally involved embodied learning - where knowing comes through ‘doing’,” Dr Burke said.

“The preparation of pre-service teachers for the classroom has therefore placed great emphasis on practical activities.

“The digital shift left many experienced academics feeling unprepared, and lacking the skills to transfer from face-to-face instruction to the online context.”

Dr Burke said it was not possible to take an in-classroom experience and simply ‘put it online’.

“It requires innovative thinking and approaches, tailor-made material and a reimagined idea of what arts education should be,” she said.

Dr Burke’s research grew from her own experience as a creative arts education academic with more than 14 years’ experience in an Australian teacher education program.

“My current role as a teacher educator is to make sure that my students go out into classrooms empowered to be wonderful teachers of the arts - not just see it as the “fun class” but to recognise its transformative potential for education and for student wellbeing,” she said.

Primary Education student Bonnie Howard said the University’s focus on the modern world enriched her industry understanding.

“As an online student, I initially thought it would be a struggle to understand and comprehend the information and content delivered via a Zoom session; however, it actually taught me that there are more forms of art then just drawing and painting,” Ms Howard said.

“Learning the arts as an online student created the opportunity for me to develop awareness of the subject and the skills and knowledge to apply it for every person, every day.”

Person looking at laptop, face on screen
Dr Katie Burke is a creative arts education academic with more than 14 years’ experience in an Australian teacher education program.