Digital Arts: an exploration of digital learning through the City Rings sound art project

The City Rings Sound Art Project is an international sound pedagogy project whose main goal is to encourage young people to exchange experiences about the place where they live through sound. Through a series of artist-led workshops, held simultaneously in schools in various countries, students are encouraged to record, compose and remix field recordings whilst developing essential skills and a deeper conceptual understanding of their environment.

The project led our students on a journey of an exploration of sound. From field recordings to collaborative compositions leading to a student designed sound art installation- A symphony of sound.
In a darkened room, beginning in silence the performance began with the roll of a single marble. Marbles continued to roll and connect as the space was gradually filled with remixed compositions, played through iPads located against walls throughout the space.
Featuring in the inaugural arts festival, the City Rings Sound Art Installation used final compositions that were composed as Sonic Postcards in collaboration with a school in Brussels, Belgium. The installation exhibited creations to the school community. Playing their ‘symphony of sound’, the performance invited participants to interact with the sound objects, to explore the sonic qualities of the objects in unison with the performance.
The result created an atmospheric ambience exploring sound, space and balance. The zen like quality of the soundscapes created an atmosphere of peace signifying the need for space and balance in our increasingly digital world whilst at the same time being dependent on it.
Throughout the project I have been reflecting on how the development of digital literacy skills can be built through the digital arts.

From meaningful provocations of exploring and recording the sonic qualities of sound objects within the immediate environment, the engagement provided a wealth of opportunities to further digital literacy skills and conceptual understanding.
Check out previous postings for some of the engagements here:
The goal was to create compositions as sonic postcards, the focus on making and creating.
Students had freedom of expression to create and build on ideas from their original field recordings. The nature of the project incorporated elements of web literacy and collaboration as sounds were exchanged with schools around Europe. Observing the breadth of conceptual understandings and skills developed throughout the project support the case for digital ‘arts’ being an essential part of any curriculum,  passionately envisioned by Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms
Here is an overview:
Creativity– evident in sound recording, composition and publication through the design of the sound art installation. Exploring new and original ideas of value to both the student and the school community.
Communication– between peers, schools and different countries, balanced between physical and digital
Collaboration between students and schools in an increasingly more global classroom made possible through technology and social media.
Critical thinking: making decisions for production and performance
Media creation: Sound recording, composition, editing & publishing, increasing awareness of the interface of media creation tools. Students have readily adapted to movie and presentation interfaces such as GarageBand, Keynote, iMovie and LogicPro.
Web literacy, blog posting, podcasting
Sound & installation design, key musical concepts of structure, unity, variety, contrast and texture. The appreciation of the aesthetic through role and posture development.
Publishing compositions to an global audience
In essence, collaboration and creativity were transformed by digital media and the learning was redefined by technology, allowing students to connect globally, engage with an audience and be creators of original digital content.
Digital Arts projects such as the City Rings project embrace digital technologies allowing learners to engage with mixed media to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the environment in which they live and the need for balance. Digital skills developed far exceed those of a traditional ICT curriculum, mirroring the real world and supported by ISTE Student Digital Profiles and the IB PYP and MYP Learner Profile, concepts and approaches to learning.
The final installation was a performance echoing the above, where the technology was essentially invisible, bringing to mind the following:
“Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.”
Chris Lehmann
Capture a feel of the installation and impressions in the montage of the Arts Festival below:
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