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Virtual media: a participant observation study of art education in Second Life

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We live in a world of rapidly changing technologies that bathe us in visual images and information, not only challenging us to find connections and make sense of what we are learning, but also allowing us to learn and to

We live in a world of rapidly changing technologies that bathe us in visual images and information, not only challenging us to find connections and make sense of what we are learning, but also allowing us to learn and to collaborate in new ways. Art educators are using one of these new technologies, virtual worlds, to create educational environments and curricula. This study looks at how post-secondary art educators are using Second Life in their undergraduate and graduate level curricula and what perceived benefits, challenges, and unique learning experiences they feel this new educational venue offers. This study uses qualitative and participant observation methodologies, including qualitative interviews, observations, and collection of generated works, to look at the practices of six art educators teaching university level undergraduate and graduate courses. Data are compared internally between the participants and externally by correlating to current research. Art education in Second Life includes many curricula activities and strategies often seen in face-to-face classes, including writing reflections, essays, and papers, creating presentations and Power Points, conducting research, and creating art. Challenges include expense, student frustration and anxiety issues, and the transience of Second Life sites. Among the unique learning experiences are increased opportunities for field trips, student collaboration, access to guest speakers, and the ability to set up experiences not practical or possible in the real world. The experiences of these six art educators can be used as a guide for art educators just beginning exploration of virtual world education and encouragement when looking for new ways to teach that may increase our students' understanding and knowledge and their access and connections to others.

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2014

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Spontaneous wanderers in the digital metropolis: a case study of the new literacy practices of youth artists learning on a social media platform

Description

This qualitative case study of 12, eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds from seven countries provided insight into the learning practices on an art-centered, social media platform. The study addressed two guiding questions; (a) what art related skills, knowledge, and dispositions do community

This qualitative case study of 12, eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds from seven countries provided insight into the learning practices on an art-centered, social media platform. The study addressed two guiding questions; (a) what art related skills, knowledge, and dispositions do community members acquire using a social media platform? (b), What new literacy practices, e.g., the use of new technologies and an ethos of participation, collective intelligence, collaboration, dispersion of abundant resources, and sharing (Knobel & Lankshear, 2007), do members use in acquiring of art-related skills, concepts, knowledge, and dispositions? Data included interviews, online documents, artwork, screen capture of online content, threaded online discussions, and a questionnaire. Drawing on theory and research from both new literacies and art education, the study identified five practices related to learning in the visual arts: (a) practicing as professional artists; (b) engaging in discovery based search strategies for viewing and collecting member produced content; (c) learning by observational strategies; (d) giving constructive criticism and feedback; (e) making learning resources. The study presents suggestions for teachers interested in empowering instruction with new social media technologies.

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2012

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Art installations in the desert: a participant observation study of the art of real life Burning Man and Second Life Burn2

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Black Rock City is a temporary city existing for one week in the harsh desert of northern Nevada. It plays host to the Burning Man festival with over 300 large-scale art installations and is considered to be the largest

Black Rock City is a temporary city existing for one week in the harsh desert of northern Nevada. It plays host to the Burning Man festival with over 300 large-scale art installations and is considered to be the largest interactive art festival in the world. Besides the main burn, smaller local regional events have developed. These regional events encompass many of the same tenets as Burning Man including the presentation of large-scale art. Burn2 is the regional event held on the virtual world, Second Life. In 2013, both events used the theme of Cargo Cult as a stepping off point for the artists. Through the lens of spectacle, I used art criticism as a way to gain understanding of the artworks.

Art criticism is a means of interpreting and appreciating artwork and is often used in the art classroom. Edmund Feldman's method promotes a deeper understanding of art and consists of four steps: description, formal analysis, interpretation and judgment. Using Feldman's method, I analyzed three artworks from the 2013 Burning Man festival and three works from Burn2. From interviews, photographs, and personal observations I analyzed the artworks. I used external analysis to compare the literature on similar festivals and the artworks with other events held in the real life and virtual world.

I found in both events very similar concepts and themes. Artists had specific subject matter in mind when designing their installations. Artists used the theme as a stepping off point for rationalizing their content. Art made to be displayed at Burning Man was expensive; funding was a concern for all the artists. Burn2 artists were free from funding concerns even though there were expenses to making art in Second Life. Emerging themes were use of building materials and color, use of electronics and computer technology, art installations in festivals, spectacle, collaboration, and interactivity. Further implications included teaching about the engineering of structures, critical thinking about festival themes and the individual art installations, visual culture, and art making with these emerging art forms.

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2014