Research Update: Technologies in Arts Integration Curricula

Students use the virtual database at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Source: New York Daily News

Students use the virtual database at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Source: New York Daily News

Arts Integration is a buzzword that is frequently used, but often misunderstood.  The Kennedy Center defines it as: “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form.  Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives into both.”  Furthermore, arts integrated learning can be accomplished through both the fine (visual) and performing arts.

The arguments and strategies for utilizing arts integration are well-documented, from the Kennedy Center to the Chicago Public Schools.  Advocates point to the application of real-life skills, creativity, and patterns of thinking to non-arts subjects, qualities that using the arts instills in young learners. 

A successfully integrated classroom usually results from teachers who have received specific training.  Teachers usually obtain this training in graduate school or, more likely, through a school partnership with an arts organization that provides residencies, trainings, and CTEs. School-wide planning and support systems are heavily encouraged to ensure high standards in both the art form and selected subject area.  The Kennedy Center's checklist of questions highlights some of the rigorous preparation that should be a part of any arts integrated lesson plan.

Some of the checklist items for the arts integration process Source: The Kennedy Center

Some of the checklist items for the arts integration process

Source: The Kennedy Center

Arts Integration has applications across subject areas.  STEM learning is a dominant topic in pedagogical conversations, and has even received action by Congress focused on preparing students for competitive careers and achievement in the 21st century.  Many policy makers feel that STEM (which stands for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education is essential for the United States to regain footing in international education standings.  There has been a large push by arts advocates to expand STEM to STEAM (Science Technology Art Engineering Mathematics)—recognizing and incorporating the benefits of arts integration to achieve the greatest results.  

Most articles on arts integration do not consider technology; however, it makes sense that they should. By introducing a technological component to arts integration efforts, educators can create an innovative environment where children prepare for the creative and multidisciplinary needs of their future.  

Over the next few months, I will look at technologies that facilitate integrated visual arts education in high school classrooms, actively seeking out schools and organizations where such technology is already in use.  I hope to provide readers with insight into existing arts-learning technology, and to investigate how these technologies currently facilitate interdisciplinary learning in schools across the country.

To learn more, look below for a sampling of useful resources.  Also, feel free to continue this conversation in the comments--I'd love to hear any technologies that you would like to share or see featured!

Recently developed National Core Arts Standards

More about STEM to STEAM

A more detailed investigation of the benefits of arts integration by the Kennedy Center