||$17 million Art Center at Rhode Island College, with construction to begin in Spring 2012. This will mark a significant step forward for Art Education Program facilities, as Art Education teacher candidates will be provided with advanced visual arts teaching and learning environments. State-of-the-art computer and digital presentation technologies will be incorporated into vastly improved, up-to-date, and well-equipped art education classrooms, art studios, and art history lecture and seminar spaces. The significant funds needed for this project were secured when the citizens of Rhode Island approved a bond referendum in November 2010 that authorized the state to issue $17 million to renovate the College's decades-old Art Center, resulting from a campaign headed by RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.
Art Education teacher candidates have long been required to take at least one computer graphics course as part of their program of study, and it has become evident that the range of technology skills that candidates now bring into the program has increased dramatically. It has become an ongoing focus in the program to take additional steps to further integrate technology into the program. In recent years, the Art Education Program has taken initiatives to further integrate technology into its teacher preparation program in several ways. The program has become even more committed to embracing the use of digital media technologies as both important 21st century instructional tools and as extraordinarily effective methods for the documentation and presentation of candidates' art teaching and PK-12 student art learning. Computers and digital projectors were, in the summer of 2010, added to Art Education classrooms, and as a result, the use of PowerPoint and Prezi digital presentations are now regularly modeled and investigated in Art Education classes as effective methods for the integration of instructional technologies into PK-12 art teaching and learning environments. Candidates are encouraged to use a variety of digital resources and technologies in their lesson planning and on-site practicum and student teaching, and their performance in using technology resources as beneficial modes of communication in their instruction is assessed as part of the FSEHD's Implemented Lesson Plan, Observation and Progress Report, and Teacher Candidate Work Sample assessments. State-of-the art technology equipment is planned as an integral part of Art Education and Art classrooms in the new $17 million Art Center with construction scheduled to begin in Spring 2012, and this will further assist in preparing teacher candidates to utilize technology in their art teaching.
The Art Education Program has also further advanced the use of digital portfolios in its preparation of teacher candidates: candidates have been guided in recent years to digitally present their art teaching portfolios in the formats of both the National Art Education Association Digication online portfolios and the TR WorkBench digital platform. Most recently, the program has adopted the FSEHD's selection of the Chalk & Wire digital portfolio system for candidates to use in the creation of digital art teaching portfolios. Implementation of Chalk & Wire has begun and is slated for full implementation in the Art Education Program in Fall 2012. The program's commitment to the use and exploration of digital technologies is also evident through guest speakers with particular expertise in the integration of technology in PK-12 art education who are regularly scheduled each semester in Art Education courses. Also, in Spring 2011, Art Education faculty participated in a FSEHD Hybrid and Online Learning Community (HOLC), which focused on investigating a variety of further worthwhile connections to technology in teacher preparation programs. Additionally, a new hybrid course “Technology Integration in 21st Century Art Classrooms” is scheduled for Summer 2012 as a course that both candidates and Rhode Island art teachers can take to further their knowledge and skills in this area. By creating and offering this pilot course, the Art Education Program is investigating additional curriculum options for further integrating technology in the program and simultaneously offering needed professional development opportunities for the state's art teachers.
In recent years, Rhode Island state initiatives that relate directly to both visual arts education specifically and education more broadly have also been given greater attention in the Art Education Program. In particular, the Rhode Island K-12 Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) in the Arts, specifically the Visual Arts and Design GSEs are presented in Art Education courses and are becoming integrated within candidates' lesson and unit planning. Guest speakers are frequently brought into Art Education classes to discuss state initiatives specifically related to visual arts education and broader educational initiatives as well. Further insights into state initiatives and how these initiatives can and do impact visuals arts education are gained by candidates through on-site dialogues with the Rhode Island art teacher practitioners they are placed with for practicum and student teaching experiences. Art Education teacher candidates' art lessons must then meet field-based requirements for connecting to state initiatives.