I’ve been thinking about the use of web technology in my art classroom lately and have talked a lot to my art and design students about being innovators. As middle schoolers, many of them had no clue what innovation means. We discussed a previous project in which they came up with a new product, designed it, and began the marketing research to figure out if their product would sell. As usual, I had created my own product as an example to them.
My students really loved my example and asked what the website URL was. I told them the site doesn’t actually exist and, to my knowledge, is beyond our current technological capabilities. I told them that they could take my idea and get a computer science degree with which to make the idea a reality. I am merely a designer. I don’t know any code beyond HTML. I’m basically useless in creating functioning apps, search engines, social media tools, etc. I can help make them look pretty through visual concept, but I don’t understand the math involved to make things work.
My example worked to inspire the kids. When we talked about how it fused future tech, like brain wave input capability, with current search and creative tools, the students’ eyes grew wide and they begged to make it work. We discussed the Mindflex game (Mattel) in which a person wears a head set which reads brain waves to control a ball through an obstacle course. They students thought that was pretty cool, too. It reminded some of them of the Jedi in Star Wars. “So”, I said, “this technology may not be far off. YOU may be on a team that makes it happen. Imagine not needing to take notes by hand because you can think them and store your thoughts in your tablet (or smaller) computer…. or what ever we call them in the future.” Again, the kids went crazy. Their minds were full of digital possibilities and hopes for their futures as designers.
As the kids worked on their products, I could see them pushing their imaginations to the limit. They showed their friends the very rough sketches of their products in hopes of feedback. They rejected some of their own ideas and replaced them with more innovative, unique ideas. It was amazing to watch 6th and 7th graders buzzing with pride over their inventions and upgrades to current technology. World citizens, fear not, we are in good hands as far as the future of creative design goes… so long as these kids don’t lose their imaginations during the process of education.