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How to Use Your Traditional Curriculum Digitally

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced educators to use technology in new ways. Whether you are a novice or tech-savvy teacher, the role technology plays in our classrooms is evident. Many school districts have had long-term technology plans to obtain devices for all students gradually. With the unexpected switch to online learning, school districts expedited these plans to get devices in students’ hands as soon as they could. Whether you are teaching entirely online or in-person with increased access to technology, art education instruction is changing.

While technology can certainly enhance instruction, one of the most overwhelming parts of this shift is translating a traditional curriculum into the digital realm. Because art is a hands-on process, many of the curriculum resources used are physical and tangible. With online learning and increased access to technology, some of these practices should change. Taking this on might seem tough, but it doesn’t need to be!

students at a computer

Let’s explore how you can use your traditionally created curriculum resources digitally. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; here are 4 ideas to get you started.


1. Annotate Digital PDFs with Kami

Most art teachers have computer folders filled with resources and instructional materials they’ve created. We’ve become accustomed to printing them and distributing them to students. If we’re trying to use these documents in an online setting, creating hard copies becomes difficult. Or, because your students now have access to devices, it might make more sense to house some of these materials in your Learning Management System.

Enroll in Strategies and Tools for Online Art Instruction Graduate Course.

Kami is an extension that allows students to actively engage with a document by highlighting, commenting, and annotating. Teachers and students can digitally annotate PDFs, ebooks, worksheets, or even use Google Drive with Kami. This app also integrates within Google Classroom to provide immediate, timely, and specific feedback for students and their artwork. The video below shows how you might use Kami with a PDF resource in the art room.

The instructional resource used in this video is from the FLEX curriculum platform.


2. Create Interactive Resources

Some handouts are wonderful for reinforcing learning and to check for student understanding. However, they may also take a great deal of time for students to complete. Technology expedites student learning while covering the same concepts. Check out the video below for an example of how you can turn your traditional PDF resources into a timesaving interactive experience.


3. Modifying Resources for Students with Accommodations

With the increased use of technology, it’s important to continue making modifications and accommodations for our students on 504 plans or IEPs. Simply excluding students from an activity does not ensure they are getting the same learning experiences as other students. Instead, look for ways to use technology to make this easier for your students. Here is an example of how you might digitally modify an artist statement activity.


4. Digital Anchor Charts

Anchor charts are another traditional element that work best within the physical art room. If students are participating in online learning, they no longer have access to these physical reminders. One solution is to turn these resources into digital interactive anchor charts and directly upload them to your LMS.

Interactive Anchor Chart
Image Courtesy of Teresa Emeloff

Above, you will find an example of a digital anchor chart created by AOEU master’s degree student, Teresa Emeloff, in the Flipping the Art Room course. This anchor chart features visual examples of watercolor techniques while including direct links and QR codes to instructional videos. A format like this provides a practical solution for using this resource in the online or in-person setting.

Moving your traditional curriculum resources to work on digital platforms might seem overwhelming and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Using technology for instruction doesn’t have to be scary. Look at the resources you already use with your students and determine how you might use those existing documents digitally. If you need some ideas to make this work for you, try one of the above strategies.

How is technology helping you teach your curriculum?

What technology resources are most helpful to you?

Abby is a middle school art teacher in Omaha, NE. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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