Make it Digital!

Meeting at Big Pit National Coal Museum, a world heritage site, offering a huge depth of history and heritage for creative inspiration, we were joined by four artists whose work combines new and traditional methods of creativity and use museums and heritage sites as a creative starting point.

Split into four hour long sessions the day introduced teachers, artists and educators to a variety of ways to work creatively between technology and cultural heritage, combining Digital Competency with Expressive Arts.

With technology becoming increasingly ubiquitous in society, it is vitally important for every person to be competent in the use of smartphones, iPads and their associated apps as well as social networks, where we communicate and share ideas. This is why the Welsh Government have have emphasised to importance of Digital Competency in the New Curriculum for Wales, so that every child learns how to participate and engage with technology in a creative and innovative way. This can be a challenge for teachers, who often feel that their pupils have a deeper understanding of technology than they do, making it important for teachers to establish a confident understanding technology and how it is being used today.

Artists are increasingly using technology both as an integral element of their work as well as a method to promote their work and find new audiences. Technology extends the scope of the artist, giving everyone possibilities for creative expression that they previously couldn’t access. This becomes exciting when we extend and enhance traditional methods of creativity, from unknown painters finding thousands of Instagram followers, to David Hockney exhibiting digital iPad paintings, demonstrating how touchable screens are bringing a tactile quality previously absent from computing.

Lisa Heledd Jones introduced a session about digital storytelling, her practice involves working with personal narratives to create art works that engage the audience in lived experiences with peoples personal histories. Using iPads with the Hokusai Audio Editor app, the teachers split up into pairs and went into the museum to interview each other about what they found. Then they edited the interview in the app and then combined their sounds to photographs using iMovie to make a short film of our experience of the museum.

Naseem Syed is especially interested in craft practice, she asked the group to consider how traditional hands-on craft methods can be extended and augmented with technology. The teachers were given materials to make a collage and use the app I Can Animate to create a stop motion animation showing the process of creating a collage, demonstrating how their ideas developed. The group photograph their creations and use the ThingLink app to organise our ideas and Pinterest to share them.

Darren Latham is an animator, he regularly works with schools to create animations of their favourite stories and histories. During the session the teachers drew their own character and used I Can Animate to animate him walking onto the screen and talking. Using a green background allowed the group to import their animations into the Green Screen by Do Ink app. The teachers used photographs they had taken in the museum as a backdrop, turning their characters into presenters in a documentary film.

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