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Why Media Arts Education Matters

By Dain Olsen

Media arts education (MAE), as instruction in the range of “digital arts” (e.g. photo, graphics, video, imaging, animation, sound, 3D virtual design, and interactive design) is a unique and valuable addition to contemporary education for many reasons. Its full inclusion in the contemporary core curriculum across all grade levels would update the educational program to current societal conditions, engage and empower today’s students with relevant literacies and skillsets, promote project-based and interdisciplinary learning, and support students in connecting to their communities and the world. To help all learners gain access to these great benefits, the Media Arts Committee of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is launching the National Media Arts Education Initiative to support MAE towards full K-12 establishment throughout the United States.

MAE is unique in reflecting our current world in multifaceted ways. Our digital society is infused with media arts products and experiences. Media arts is now the foundational element of our global, networked culture, as its primary means of communication and design. These technologies are how we know about and design our world. With billions of people acquiring and distributing information and experiences through its ever-evolving multimedia platforms, media arts is the primary means by which we create and interact within our environment. Therefore, these media arts literacies are essential for students’ successful functioning in college, career, and life in general, including becoming informed and active citizens in our digitally democratic society.

Media arts empowers students

In its pervasive social usage, its various applications, such as Youtube, Instagram, Tiktok, podcasts, etc., have enabled everyday citizens to take part in its artistic, networked media communications and practices. Students, in particular, rapidly engage in and gain the skills associated with media arts and readily apply them to the production of original works, which scale up to more complex productions – for example: the photo becomes a social media post, becomes a photojournalistic series, a short documentary, a news broadcast, and then a dramatic film.