Artistic Director Craig Harris was invited to be the first artist-in-residence at the Alaska Society for Technology in Education Conference, with the goal of facilitating a community exploration of the future of education and education technology.
Thirty years ago educators in Alaska were breaking new ground in distance education and education technology to prepare the State’s population for a monumental transformation. They had a significant challenge to deliver quality education to a diverse population spread across great distances, and sought an effective response by developing and implementing new technologies in service of educators and education. They did pioneering work that put them at the cutting edge of distance education in the country – acquiring and learning new tools; developing collaborations and strategic partnerships; and experimenting to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
The Alaska Society for Technology in Education has been and continues to be a central driving and unifying force in this process. There have been and continue to be obstacles and challenges – funding issues, time constraints, alignment of goals among diverse constituents, difficulties relating to the emergence of completely new technologies, the digital divide, and the development of new digital literacies and critical assessment tools. The pace of change has been explosive, challenging the ability to develop the models needed to effectively match the capability inherent in these new resources. New technology became available, educators would work to integrate them into their daily classroom needs, and the technology would evolve making their current tools obsolete before they barely found their bearings implementing the tools that they had. They had an increasingly complex set of challenges as they sought to continue teaching the critical materials that their students had to learn, and also figure out how to address the need to teach new tools and develop new literacies at the same time.
In 2012 ASTE leadership and foresight created an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day immediate classroom needs to explore the future of education, education technology, and the role of the arts in educating students to function effectively in the 21st Century. ASTE President Mary Wegner highlighted the importance of bringing the voices of this community together to collectively create a vision for the future. Jason Ohler, a dynamic leader in the field of distance education and digital literacies effectively made the case that art and creative literacy are “coming of age”, and needs to be part of the discussion and solution. They brought their community together to create ASTE’s most comprehensive conference in its history, with the theme Create – Collaborate – Innovate. They invited Craig Harris to be their first artist in residence at their conferences, to infuse the conference with an innovative and creative approach to developing a community-wide understanding of the current conditions, and to establishing a unified vision for the future.
More than 700 people attended, including K-12 educators, higher education educators, education administrators and technology providers. They had the benefit of 30 years of experience exploring and addressing current and future education needs, in discovery, in creative problem solving, and in building effective collaborations and strategic partnerships. ASTE 2012 was an amazing and rare opportunity for creative exploration and problem solving, for building upon existing and establishing new collaborations, and to be at the frontier – to innovate – to create the world they want, rather than be forced to accept a world delivered to them by others.
People were interviewed before and during the conference, and the audio and video material was integrated into a video created by Artistic Director Craig Harris and Dr. Jason Ohler that was presented at the end of the conference, reflecting the work that was accomplished. All interviews were transcribed in their entirety, and together these artifacts provide an important snapshot of the community’s current perspective and vision as they plan for the future.
View the video “It’s About” from the final presentation here.