The Digital Art Students at Skowhegan High School in Maine display art work from the ‘real’ world in virtual museums and galleries. Approximately 50 students enrolled in Paul Skowhegan’s (all avatars use the last name of their school) art classes are using some of the latest techniques and software to create works of art that can, theoretically, be shared worldwide.
Students get directions for a specific project, incorporating the standards-based requirements and artistic techniques along with instruction in using the software and hardware. The results are 3D structures that reflect a unique aesthetic filled with artwork that each individual student selects.
As a visitor to the sim on Reaction Grid, my tour consisted of several student-constructed galleries, the Surreal Gardens, and a build that is being constructed in collaboration with an English teacher whose class is studying The Great Gatsby.
The works illustrate independent and collaborative works, the group products clearly indicate significant communication and collaboration among the students. Each semester the teacher clears the sim in preparation for the next class, Paul is considering a permanent structure to house select student works from each semester.
I had an opportunity to interact with the students, observing and discussing with them made it quite clear that they were totally engaged in the process and their creations. One student took me for a tour of his build, which he chose to construct suspended above the sim, in the sky. The structure is a 3-story building requiring a way to move from one level to the other, posing a problem. His solution was a transparent elevator shaft in the center of the room that allowed an avatar to fly up or down a level. The student, C. Skowhegan, explained he had a Second Life account but rarely went there as he preferred the freedom he had to build and create in Reaction Grid. Students I spoke to expressed a positive attitude regarding the class and the work they were doing.
The young artists in Mr. Skowhegan’s class to take it all in stride, it seems to come natural to them. The experiences these students are having are unique compared to other high school art classes and skills they are developing are 21st Century skills.
- My Top Three High Tech Portfolios for Students (artedontherun.com)