Technology Integration in Art Education
Technology and art education have always had a strong relationship. From simple
technologies like pencils, paint, and printing presses, to the now more advanced digital
technologies, including web-based programs and software like Adobe’s Creative Suite,
technology has always been a part of image making and creating 3D structures. Because of
various digital technologies, art has advanced exponentially throughout the years. Unfortunately,
art education is often seen as an extracurricular subject in the everyday classroom, and in some
areas of the world, art has been pushed aside even though the ever growing world of technology
has impacted art education in a major way. Technology not only has influenced art education
directly but is has also affected using art in other content areas, which could benefit from the
inclusion of art and technology in the everyday classroom. This paper focuses on the importance
of art and technology integration in the classroom, how technology is implemented in art
education, and the future use of technology in art education.
Since the passing of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), instruction time in
subjects like math and English has steadily increased which means that instructional time in
areas like sciences, social studies, arts, and physical education (Choi & Piro, 2009). Curriculum
narrowing still continues to occur and areas such as the arts have been impacted the most.
Haeryun Choi and Joseph M. Piro (2009), point out that teaching the arts has been challenging
for several teachers in the United States. When curriculum content is evaluated and prioritized in
relation to cognitive success of students, challenges and tensions begin to surface when deciding
the content areas that need to be focused on to improve cognitive achievement. They also state
that the arts often have to justify their presence in core curricula and must supplement education
in other content areas instead of being considered worthy as a core curriculum area. This
statement is interesting when considering how the public sees the importance of the arts in
education. Choi and Piro (2009), reveal from findings of a 2007 poll by the Partnership for 21st
Century Skills that 88 percent of respondents believe that an education in and through the arts is
necessary for students to nurture and support the imagination. The findings also state that 63
percent of the poll participants feel that developing imaginative capacities in as imperative as
learning the basics of education. An education in and through the arts should be considered a
necessary element in the fundamentals of education.
Technology is now becoming a necessary competency and needed skill in twenty-first-
century education (Choi & Piro, 2009). The Internet has changed how we access information,
altering the speed and ease of acquiring new information. New education initiatives have
launched in response to the new trend of technology attempting to structure practical teaching
and learning projects.
According to Mary Ann Stankiewicz (2004), visual literacy and technology have always
been together and art education has a unique relationship with technology. She also states that
art educators rely on image-making and image-reproducing tools and technologies as resources
for learning in the classroom. One definition of technology, provided by the Society for the
History of Technology, says technology is the process or processes that a social group supplies
itself with the important objects of their civilization (Stankiewicz, 2004). This definition helps
us define how technology is relevant to learning in visual arts. Technologies can range from
instruments like potter’s wheels and drop spindles used to create images and objects in smaller
groups of people, to invented methods established during industrialism, like crayons. Other
technologies that have a long history of being used in art education are those used to reproduce
images. Printmaking and photography are both technologies that have helped develop and
expand the world of image reproduction and they have both played a large role in the
development of mass media.
Even though technology and art have been intertwined for years, some educators are
fearful that newer, software-based creations will take over the importance of using traditional
media like charcoal drawing and oil painting in art education (Devaney, 2008). It is important to
remember to establish a strong foundation of conceptual understanding in art, and various
software programs and web-based collaborations could help establish the base. By using these
programs and web-based collaborations, a wider range of students can learn to appreciate art.
Stephanie Reese, a technology teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona has been using Corel
Painter, software created to imitate traditional painting, for the past 12 years (Devaney, 2008).
Reese uses this software to teach her students various concepts like 3D animation modeling and
color theory, and she uses art to teach different subjects such as communication and desktop
publishing and web design. She believes that using the painting software and using art in
different areas allows the students to tell a visual story of their work.
However useful technology is in art education, it is also important to teach the traditional
forms of art instruction (Devaney, 2008). Reese believes that the tangible feeling of clay and
paint is a real need in education. Software and computers cannot replace the need to get dirty
and physically involved in the creation of art, but the skills learned in the beginning tactile stages
of art production can transfer later into using more technologically advanced forms of art
making. Pennsylvania’s University of the Arts (UA) also uses Corel Painter in select courses
and introduced digital image making into the curriculum over 10 years ago. However, even with
the inclusion of digital technologies, traditional artistic techniques are still a main focus of the art
classroom. Mark Tocchet, the chair of the illustration department at UA, believes that the
students need an education in contemporary art practices, but teaching them to draw and paint is
still a primary focus. If the student learns how to draw and paint well, they will do well with
drawing and painting in the future whether it is with a pencil or with digital technology.
Diane C. Gregory researched how integrating technologies in various classroom settings
can improve student learning (Gregory, 2009). She believes that art teachers have the creative
thinking, problem solving, and risk taking skills necessary to shift the standards of technology in
the classroom. Hypermedia tools like PowerPoint, Inspiration, or Keynote can aid students in
discovering different levels of meaning and assist in a more “minds-on” method of learning.
Gregory believes that using software programs like the ones listed previously, students can
become more empowered with their learning while engaging in a student-centered approach to
art productions, visual culture, and art history and criticism. She also points out that if the art
classroom is just beginning to incorporate technology in the curriculum, it should be done in
stages and the students should be involved in deciding which technological approach is the most
effective in their learning.
One example Gregory (2009) uses in her article is a self-discovery lesson using student
groups and a variety of technologies. In four small groups, students select between four various
“art studio technology-based learning stations” (Gregory, 2009, p. 52). These stations include
things from drawing to social bookmarking, audio podcasting to mixed media, and printmaking
to digital paper quilts. The students work in their cooperative groups to create a digital
presentation, but are still required to create their own self-portrait using the various materials at
Laura Devaney (2008), shares another example of how technology can be integrated into
the art classroom. In an elementary art lesson, the students are shown a professional artist’s
drawing and then they use DrawPlus, a program offering pre-defined shapes, to break the image
down and learn how simple shapes can be used to create more complex images. Using a
software program like DrawPlus can be helpful for students how feel they do not have good
drawing abilities; they allow the student to explore and learn about art without feeling self-
conscious about their own skills and capabilities.
In his Art Education 2.0 Manifesto, Craig Roland (2009) shares how the World Wide
Web and technology can be used in the future of art education. Roland points out how tools like
blogs, podcasting, social networks, and virtual worlds are used by millions of people to connect,
communicate, and collaborate with each other. Including young people, users of the Web are
becoming producers of their own media and they are beginning to transform cultural and
educational practices. He believes that all media technologies can help promote the goals of art
education but newer forms of technologies deserve more attention because of their everyday
impact in our students’ lives. These forms of technologies give students the opportunities to
become engaged in these ground-breaking forms of expression and communication. It is also
important to integrate technology into learning because knowing how to read and write is no
longer enough to be well educated. Students need to also develop literacy in technology to be
able to succeed in the future. A couple examples of integrating technology and the future of art
education that Roland gives in his manifesto are arranging a student art exchange with
classrooms from other countries and taking part in a global art project with additional schools
across the America and the world. He also suggests having students create their own online art
exhibits to display their own artwork and to share their accomplishments with a worldwide
audience. Practices like this might be more advanced than using simple software programs to
create and analyze artwork, but they give art educators technological goals to work towards.
It is clear that technology and art have been intertwined for many years, but it is still
important to consider mixing in newer technologies in art education to help advance the student
skills in art. There are several ways technology can be integrated right now into the art
classroom, including a variety of levels from simple integration like using a program like
Inspiration, to more advanced applications of technology use, like creating web-based art
portfolios. The roots of art skills and education should never be dismissed, but in the
technologically advanced world we live in today, the importance of technology integration in the
art classroom cannot be ignored. It is apparent that integration has began to take place across the
world, but we must continue to advance to keep up with ever-changing technology applications.
Devaney, L., & News, e. (2008, September 19). Top News - Technology makes art education a
bigger draw. eSchool News. Retrieved November 14, 2009, from
Gregory, D. C. (2009). Boxes with fire: wisely integrating learning technologies into the art
classroom. Art Education, 62, 47-54.
Haeryun, C., & Piro, J. M. (2009). Expanding arts education in a digital age. Arts Education
Policy Review, 110, 27-34.
Roland, C. (n.d.). art junction: a collaborative art space for teachers and students. art junction: a
collaborative art space for teachers and students. Retrieved November 14, 2009, from
Stankiewicz, M. A. (2004). Notions of technology and visual literacy. Studies in Art Education,