Each week when Laurie Myers steps into her Castleman Hall classroom to teach Art 3001, she is more than a lecturer. She is a guide for students exploring digital art, problem-solving and professional development.
Myers, a lecturer in arts, languages and philosophy at Missouri S&T, teaches a course titled “Exploring Digital Art through Design Thinking.” It is filled with students of all majors who want to learn more about digital technology, software and the progression of visual culture. These students collaborate online through a private Facebook group, where they explore a topic of the week and work on individual and group assignments.
They also work throughout the semester to create a professional website to showcase their undergraduate work, projects from the course and a resume. “In the end, the professional portfolio they create in this class displays a well-rounded individual,” she says.
Katherine Upchurch, a junior in technical communication, who took the class last spring, says the online portfolio she created has professional value because it conveys to potential employers who she is. “When I am hired for a job, I want to be working where I am appreciated for who I am and what I can bring to the table and this website is a great representation of that,” she says.
Upchurch says the class gave her opportunities to grow not just in her understanding of digital art, but also in interpersonal communication. “The class has taught me to be open to different ways of thinking,” she says. “I became more aware of others in group projects and I gained communication skills I could not have gotten in any other class.”
Exploring Digital Art through Design Thinking connects students to digital exploration and professional development, but the applications of the course curriculum do not end there.
Myers says topics covered in this course have important connections to work done not just in the arts, but also in engineering and science. “Art is the creative component of innovation,” she says. “Digital art allows scientists and engineers more success in all aspects of discovery and innovation.”
Myers says classes that foster creativity, like Exploring Digital Art, are not extraneous but essential.
“The need for creativity has never been greater,” she says. “The importance of collaboration and the opportunity to be creative — and to learn to be creative — is crucial for our future success.”