Creative coding is a type of computer programming in which the goal is to create something expressive instead of something functional – for example visual art, interactive projections or installments.
Art making is often associated with concepts like freedom, expressiveness and colourfulness. Coding on the other hand is viewed as systematic, scientific and rigid even. Why should the two be combined?
Why should code and art be combined?
We spoke to Ms. Minna Pekkanen, a class teacher for 6th grade in Haukipudas, Northern Finland. Ms. Pekkanen teaches the art classes for her students. Here’s what she says:
“ Some might think that it is not possible to combine coding and art. But they do go together beautifully well, since coding is a great medium for artistic expression. Also art provides a meaningful environment for practicing coding. My students absolutely loved the art project!”
Integrating coding with art is an excellent idea, because it enhances learning both subjects. It makes coding meaningful and gives students a great new medium for artistic expression.
You can view coding as an additional multitool to traditional pencils, brushes and paint. With code, you can add movement, interactive features, music and sound effects to your artwork. You can add a score system, collect data from viewers, present the data in various format, link to other resources, add randomness, perform calculations… there are countless possibilities for new ways of expression. Code will help you create art that would be impossibile manually, such as drawing thousands of shapes in seconds.
Using art as the medium for practicing code may also change prejudices and lower the threashold for getting excited about coding for many students.
How can an arts teacher start teaching code?
Teaching code can be a taunting thought for teachers with no prior experience with coding. Best is to start with simple art projects in a visual programming environment, for instance Scratch. There are many free tutorials and teacher resources. We can recomment these two:
Scratch Activity Guide: Animate a character
Code.org Lesson 6 / Course C: Creating Art with Code
Code School Finland has launched an online course for arts teachers with no or only little experience of coding. It explains how to teach an easy but exciting animated arts project. In addition, the course contains one-to-one personal support by Code School Finland instructors.
Ms. Pekkanen tells about her experience:
“As an art teacher with no previous coding experience I never imagined being able to teach coding. With this course it was easy. The course was also an eye-opener on how well art and code go together. “
Check out the Teach an animated art project online course for teachers.