Ars Electronica is a yearly festival for art, technology, and society. The five-day programme offers a variety of conferences, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and project presentations, as well as concerts and performances. A special section of the festival caled U19 is dedicated to children and youth. We visited this section to get inspired by the works of others – artists and educators working with children and youth, and their collaborative creations. Talking to the people present, we learned from their approach to teaching, the topics they deal with, as well as concrete workshop ideas they use to engage children and youth. Approaching technological tools through play and art, the workshops often revolve around social topics. How can we use art and technology to make the world a better place?
What inspired us the most?
TAGTOOL, an impressively intuitive tool for digital animation and collaborative work. The basic version is for free and you can use it for interactive storytelling, animate your doodles within seconds, and play around on one screen with others.
JUGENDHACKT, a network organization in German-speaking countries, that offer a variety of tech-inspired workshops for young children and youth. They always discuss three key questions during ther workshops:
What can technology do for me/others and our lives?
Can technology do any harm?
Can technology do something positive for the world?
BLINKENROCKET, an open source, ready-made kit that teaches kids soldering and allows you to project your own message on a 8 x 8 grid of led lamps. Perhaps a fun gadget to integrate in our workshops – teaching kids how letters are constructed on a simplified 8 x 8 grid?
Error as a part of the creative process was this year’s theme. Many educators, scholars and artists took part in a nuber of lectures and panel discussions. Here are some inspiring ideas we’d like to implement in our workshops:
Success (that is reaching the goal) is often the only recognised value of creative work. Error/mistake is a taboo, something to be ashamed of.
We should change this status quo by developing the following key designer skills:
Dare to fail.
Continue even if you make mistakes – learn to recover from them.
Use error as a starting point.
If you recognise a dead end, don’t throw the whole idea away – keep it „stored away“ for later.
If you want to engage young people in theatre, don’t ask how you can draw them in with digital technologies. Engage them through play. Create content that engages young people – content using digital technology.