A. Mohr

University of Duisburg-Essen (GERMANY)
Little children grow up with new media like television, digital cameras and computers which are visual, picture-dominated media in the first place. Hence, applying visual literacy is an important competence in today’s world. Empirical studies point out that drawing on the computer can enlarge pictorial skills and creative-esthetical capabilities of expression of children like painting, staging, collecting and experimenting. But when we look at art education on the computer we find that these creative-esthetical activities are not supported by drawing programs as demonstrated by a short analysis of a few programs used in schools.
Thus, art pedagogy reacts too much to the software market instead of playing an active role. Designing learning scenarios only by using commercially available software could however be precarious as the content is imposed solely by guidelines devised exclusively by information scientists: consequently the software only reflects the perspective of software developers and their understanding of creative-esthetical behaviour. In an attempt to unite the perspective of art pedagogy and computer science I initiated the project “Art Pedagogy and Computational Visualistics in a Research Association. Development and Evaluation of Software from a Childlike Point of View”. The project is financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
In this project children are directly involved in the evaluation and development of software. Thus the esthetical and creative capabilities of children are strengthened and the child’s perspective gains importance. When involving children in the research process it is guaranteed that aesthetical and pictorial skills, the necessities and motivations of children are the main aspect and not the perception and expectations of adults.
As a first result of the project the open source software “GIMP” was modified based on former research from complexity to simplicity. With the help of this modified software fostering creative-esthetical capabilities in art education is now possible.

Topics of the paper:
- Applying visual literacy – an important competence in today’s world
- Focussing on the complete esthetical process at the computer
- Former research: Painting, staging, collecting, writing and experimenting with computers as creative activities
- Software – the crucial factor
- Software requiring low creativity. A short analysis
- What should be done? Let’s design software not only for but with children!
- Modifying the Open Source Software GIMP - from complexity to simplicity
- Perspectives