Computers In Art Gains Popularity

Since its introduction five years ago, the Computers in Arts course (CIA) has continued to grow in popularity each year. It is so popular, in fact, that in all four periods of CIA being taught this semester, all 28 classroom computers were being used before the building was closed due to COVID 19. Mr. Vanhall, who teaches the class, has a theory about the class’s popularity.

“I think it’s the opportunity to work with technology in an artistic fashion. We get to do something in Computers in Art that you don’t get to do in any other class, which is to focus on filmmaking and animation,” said Mr. Vanhall.

At Longfellow, CIA incorporates computers to let students fulfill artistic visions. The course teaches students filmmaking and all the steps in between. Students learn editing, animation, how to use a camera, and more. The class is very beginner-friendly, fun, and very relevant, which attracts many students.

“I also think, in general, middle schoolers are working with technology and becoming prosumers more and more.  They’reinvolved in things like YouTube, where they see a lot of people that are also doing their own filmmaking or animating or vlogs.”  said Mr. VanHall.

A prosumer is something between an amateur and a professional; it is a mash-up of two words: “producer-consumer.” VanHall tries to help students learn about the steps of going from amateur to professional.

Almost every middle school in FCPS has CIA as a course, but the course gives a lot of freedom for how the teacher wants to teach the class, leading to each middle school having different CIA courses.

VanHall views his class through the lens of the Fairfax County Portrait of a Graduate.  Those guidelines emphasize the use of technology, job skills, along, personal growth, and collaboration. “Computers in art is a course that allows for a lot of that to take place. It’s an art elective, but it also allows for students to learn things that they could possibly use in a real job or in the professional world as a digital artist someday,” said Mr. Vanhall.

How do so many students find out about the course? Sabrina Martin and Fisher Blankenbaker have both discovered the course through word of mouth that the class was fun.

Digital arts has increased in popularity, not only in Longfellow but in schools across America. Our world is shifting towards technology-oriented entertainment and media, which leaves opportunities for people to learn and create such works.