Arts, Education, and the Internet:
Proposal for a collaborative study and investigation project

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Names of Collaborating K-12 Districts:

Oakland and San Francisco, with Berkeley (Berkeley High) participating informally.


Teachers, students, educators and arts organizations.

We propose a collaborative study and planning project which will pose the question, "How can site-based arts organizations (museums, performing arts presenters) best employ new technologies to engage K-12 students in learning and experiencing the arts?" The emphasis of this project will be on mechanisms for structuring and delivering educational information on the Internet related to arts programming, and cognitive questions about a best-practices approach.

In this project, Cal Performances (Cal P) and the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) would collaborate with Berkeley Pledge schools in the Oakland and Berkeley school districts to investigate this question fully to prepare a report which documents our approach, recommends strategies, and evaluates our case studies. Locally, the project would forge alliances between two of UC Berkeley's most accomplished arts organizations and local schools that could be expanded upon in future implementation projects. It is also intended that the project will generate an approach for collaboration among these types of organizations that will be disseminated in the education profession and can be used by other arts organizations and schools across the country.

The need for the project:

The need to include the arts in any general education is well documented. The arts involve students in all the issues of culture and society, in personal growth, and encourage critical thinking, thus preparing them to be an active members of society. It is also well documented (for instance by the Discipline Based Art Education movement) that learning with the arts involves a balance of practicing those arts with study, critical analysis, and, crucially, experiencing the arts.

Arts organizations are ideal partners to foster this kind of education and new technology offers important opportunities to expand the scope of this collaboration. However there are questions somewhat unique to arts organizations in using new technology (especially networks) to facilitate education.

Often education requires access to knowledge and interpretative materials which are reproducible: study plans, books, articles, essays, etc. and thus are amenable to adaptation into computerized formats and distance learning. However, education in the arts is also about direct experience; physically experiencing performances of music or drama, and exhibitions of unique objects of art or antiquity. This is not to say that arts education is not possible on the Internet, quite the opposite is true, but a real need exists in the profession for an investigation of the question of how to tie together the time and space-breaking nature of the Internet with the time and space-bound nature of site-specific arts organizations.



The goals of the project are centered around answering the question, "How can site-based arts organizations (museums, performing arts presenters) best employ new technologies to engage K-12 students in learning and experiencing the arts."

The goals include:


Why us:

Cal P and the BAM/PFA have national and international reputations for excellence in the arts as well as for education programs. BAM/PFA is well-known particularly for educational use of new technologies and it's contributions to this field. This is in part due to the unique situation of these organizations: few arts organizations have the benefit of being connected to such a large and high-caliber university, and no other university has arts organizations which equal the size and scope of BAM/PFA and Cal P. In size they are among the nations largest university arts forums and in scope they encompass all forms of visual and performing art; both modern and ancient as well as cinema. This combination of expansive arts programming at an educational institution, along with the technological knowledge and resources of a great university creates the perfect environment for the use of new technology in arts education. In order to fulfill this promise, we rely in part on campus initiatives, like the Interactive University Project, to help us find ways and means of adapting and delivering our educational content and to maintain our leadership in this field.

Both organizations have extensive education and community programs. Cal Performances enjoys long-term relationships with several Pledge schools including: Willard, Longfellow, King, and Berkeley High. Over 100 educational activities were produced last season, and over 14,000 school children attended performances, workshops, classes and studied interdisciplinary curricula. These events involve some of the most accomplished artists of our time. At the Berkeley Art Museum an extensive schedule of public programs for our special exhibitions and collections include lectures by distinguished scholars and artists, readings, and hands-on demonstrations. BAM/PFA's web site has been written of in Art in America, Museum News and several local papers as a model museum on-line education and access service. The site currently gets 25,000 individuals a month, many of whom are students at the college and grade school level, and some of whom have used BAM/PFA's web site content directly in classes.


Learning and the Internet:

Beyond our local advantages, arts organizations share with the Internet a particular form of education: self-paced learning. While arts organizations do sometimes employ the model of classroom type teaching with one expert teaching to a gathered group of students, they just as often create learning environments - combinations of experience and structured information created to allow for the individual to embark on a self-paced journey of discovery. This is core to the de-centralized nature of the Internet as well.

So, arts organizations are situated to not only explore education in the arts on the Internet, but can also make an important contribution to the rise of new paradigms for learning and education on the Internet in general.



As two of the campus' most publicly oriented departments, Cal P and BAM/PFA have a long history of collaborating with each other, with faculty and campus groups, and with community groups and schools.

For this project collaboration would happen on many levels:

Cal P and BAM/PFA along with teachers from Oakland and Berkeley schools would come together in consideration of the primary question of the project, and to consider what the baseline is for training, equipment, services and what form delivery mechanisms should take, what content is needed from the arts organizations and in what forms, and what criteria should be used to evaluate the success of educational technology projects. The connections and mechanisms would then be in place for the implementation of future projects between one or more of the schools and one or more of the campus arts organizations. This pilot project would form a solid base from which to seek funding for implementation projects.

As part of the Berkeley Pledge effort, campus arts organizations are forming a 'campus arts council'. During the course of this project, BAM/PFA and Cal P will communicate with those other campus arts organizations so that future implementation projects could include them as well. This project would inform any technology projects being considered by the campus arts council.

UC Berkeley staff involved in the campus have ties to national and international professional organizations, which will be tapped to disseminate the findings of this project. Richard Rinehart is a member of the Board of Directors of the international Museum Computer Network, with over 800 member museums and individuals exploring the use of technology in museums. In the MCN conference and journal he will present the report and experience of this project. Ella Baff is chair of Professional Development on the Board of Directors of the Western Alliance of Arts Administrators, and is a consultant for several foundations and arts organizations nationally.

In addition to the track of meetings with teachers, the sponsoring arts organizations would meet with campus and community arts organizations and other site-based educational organizations that are also exploring the use of the Internet and new media to engage K-12 students. One such project, with representatives locally is the science education SII project. The current project would focus on arts programming and site-based learning, but could learn from other disciplines investigating issues of site visits in combination with networked information.

The collaboration would itself employ new technology in the form of email listserv's for ongoing discussion and on-line evaluation/feedback mechanisms for evaluating educational projects (also available on-line).


Case studies:

BAM/PFA and Cal P will consider case studies in this study project. The case studies will be projects at Cal P and BAM/PFA that use new technology. They may include projects which will arise in the course of this study (i.e. collaborative projects) and projects already planned to take place during the time frame of this project, as well as a couple that have already occurred. The study of them will yield evaluative information from the entire group, and will be looked at through the lens of the primary question.

A sampling of potential case studies follows:

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