Sunday, November 18, 2007

the conference

So the story in a nutshell is, I had attended a conference (one that I had attended in the past) that was specifically for educators in the Arts. It's held on the campus of a local university and always boasts a great turnout. This year's theme had to do with Technology and the Arts, so I had been especially excited to go. I looked forward to seeing what new ideas the "experts" came up with as far as implementing technology in arts education, and even the possibility of some exposure to Web 2.0 strategies in the arts. When I looked over the choices of breakout sessions, however, I was a little disappointed; it was the same old thing as before, some workhops in Adobe software (just like last year), iMovie, and using DVD clips in your classes.
Ok, I know I have to be fair; not all teachers are ready for the 'big leap' into web 2.0, both psychologically and logistically. Maybe, for some of the old school crowd, integrating DVD segments into an arts class may indeed be a big step. I was just struck by the lack of sessions that addressed some of the real advancements in using technology in education.
Anyway, back to my experience at the conference: so I chose a somewhat interesting-sounding workshop on combining digital video and theater for the first session, which was indeed interesting in terms of the concept but lacked some of the hands-on application I had hoped for. What really struck me about this session, (which was led by a very bright, enthusiastic young arts administrator who was doing some very cool things with his students) was that when the instructor made passing reference to some of the editing tools he was using in Final Cut, some participants actually asked him if he could email instructions to them on how to use Final Cut. He paused, looked stunned for a second, swallowed and said, "uh...sure, I guess so...". Poor guy.
For the second session, I was struck by the lack of any compelling choices (the majority, it seemed, had nothing to do with technology) until I saw an offering for an acting workshop using Moscow Art Theater approach to characterization, "using technology". Suspicious, I went to the classroom a few minutes early and saw the instructor setting up, and took an opportunity to ask what kind of software we would be using to create our character. The teacher, a petite, professional looking woman with what sounded like a Russian accent, replied, chuckling: "Is no software!We use actor's imagination!" Well, thank you, but I already know how to do that. I thanked her, and headed for the parking lot.

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