June 2, 2024

Media Arts Education in South Korea

The South Korean Ministry for Arts and Culture (KACES) recently supported my presentation at their annual international arts education conference. I'm not used to being treated so well and with such great attention!  Along with the other speakers, I was escorted everywhere by cheerful and inquisitive escorts. We were shown a tour of the local Palace. We gathered at fine restaurants with amazing menus, where we all discussed an array of educational issues. I even received an interview from their major news outlet. 

The Ministry's leaders and educators showed great interest in media arts education, and they are seriously considering how they can integrate it into their school system. They 'get it'! It made me realize that I've never actually presented on media arts education to such an audience in the US! I've certainly presented, dozens of times, at various conventions, but its never been to truly explain the essence of media arts education and its great potential for education as a whole. What follows here is the article I wrote for their zine site, Arte 365 

Media Arts Education: 

An Aesthetic Synthesizer With Transformative Educational Potential

By Dain Olsen

Media arts is an amazing emerging arts subject area, which has tremendous potential to advance student learning and creating, and even to transform 21st century education. This article will provide an introduction to the discipline while it presents its impressive capacities for multimedia production, transdisciplinary projects, student directed creative inquiry, and vital multiliteracies.

Media arts is defined as technology-based creativity, which is machine-based, multimodal, and “inter-arts”. With its diverse and powerful tools, students can produce photos, graphic designs, videos, animations, interactive applications and games, web sites, broadcasts, immersive environments, 3D models, and virtual worlds. In short, media arts productions are creatively unlimited for students, meaning that they can produce and simulate anything imaginable. 

Not only can students produce any artistic media, they can use media arts to demonstrate their learning of any core content. In language class, they can write an essay about any topic, record their narration, and then illustrate it with images as a documentary. They can use it in math class to exhibit their understanding of algebra, perhaps as a dramatized word problem, or in the construction of 3D architecture. They can use it in history to animate the dramatic story of their nation, and in science to demonstrate the concept of gravity through interactive virtual simulations.  

Media arts is so open and capable because it is essentially an aesthetic synthesizer. One can think of it as a transparent portal, which is sensory based, or mutimodal. It can perceive anything and aesthetically process it in an infinite number of ways. In other words, media arts can be described as a multimedia textbook, interactive workbook and super makerspace. It transforms the educational institution into a student-centered environment for active creative inquiry. Students can decide what they are going to investigate and how they are going to represent what they discover. They can imagine or invent anything, and turn it into reality. 

This presents a new paradigm for education because students can begin to take on a central role in the educational process. Learning doesn’t always have to be a one-way communication from teacher and textbook to the student for learning to occur. A student doesn’t need to permanently retain all the information in their brain, when they have an infinite library at their fingertips. Artificial intelligence is already functioning as a tutor that is fairly reliable for basic information and technical corrections of student work. This technological revolution presents the necessity for teachers and schools to change their role in the learning process. Primarily, they can begin to incorporate more active projects in the classroom, where students collaboratively interact with and apply the content, rather than just read about it. 

This presents a new model of arts-based learning that is more constructivist, experiential, and student-centered.  Ample research has shown that these approaches are more effective for deeper forms of learning. Transdisciplinary media arts projects can combine arts and core subject areas, which involve higher forms of cognition and skill sets, such as analogizing, synthesizing, project management, problem-solving, computational thinking, and multimodal orchestration. Students find these processes much more engaging, purposeful, and rewarding. As a result, school can become more interesting and exciting, which makes students more motivated and self-directed. 

Thus, students can begin to direct their own learning process and pathways through the educational institution. Media arts is so flexible and adaptable that even students with physical, cognitive and socioeconomic challenges can have alternative ways of interacting with, applying, and demonstrating their mastery of content. This makes education more equitable and accessible for diverse populations, which means that all students will have many more ways of achieving academic success. 

Finally, media arts reflects our current digital society, and prepares students with the multiliteracies necessary to function and succeed in this rapidly changing world. Students need to be able to ‘read’, analyze, interpret and evaluate a deluge of multimedia information in their everyday lives. They need to be able to construct their own messages, products and experiences, so that they become responsible contributors to and empowered participants in this society. Students need to be able to determine fact from fiction, and verify information vs. misinformation. They need to be able to address the potentially harmful impacts of new forms of artificial intelligence, technology, and media. Media arts provides the safe and balanced environments that systemically prepare students for these evolving societal conditions. 

In conclusion, media arts can function as the intermediating, multimodal center of 21st century education for all students’ artistic, academic and vocational success.

January 30, 2024


Dain Olsen

President & CEO, NAMAE

Author: Media Arts Education, Routledge (forthcoming)

Human cognition Is Multimodal

Not ‘text-based’!

Sound familiar?


That’s because AI is now ‘multimodal’, and moving beyond text-based!

AI is now trained on multimedia: images, text, video, speech, graphics, etc.

'Multimodality' has caused a quantum leap in AI’s ability to mimic human thinking,

Resulting in greater capacities for empathy, generative multimedia, and generalizing intelligence.


Similar to the 'old' AI, our educational system is text and language-based, not multimodal.

Students learn indirectly, through the code of academic language, and book study,

Which makes the learning less interesting and engaging, and more abstract and hard to understand.

Because our cognition is multimodal, all students learn better through multimodality.

Media Arts Education (MAE)

Is highly multimodal, multisensory,  direct, interactive, and embodied

Across all of these forms: photo, video, sound, animation, graphics, web design, social media, 3D design,

AI supported, game design, e-journalism, interactive and virtual design

Which makes MAE creatively unlimited!

Students can produce, construct, and design anything imaginable!

Furthermore, MAE is 'transparent' to all contents, across both arts and academics.

Which means, MAE can use these forms to translate, represent, and simulate text-based content in multimodal projects

Therefore, MAE can make all learning more multimodal, engaging, interactive, and understandable!


photos of math in the world: clock, sign, schedule, geometric shapes, money, etc.

Graphic designs for sales showing discounts

Cooking shows, measuring ingredients

Short dramatic videos enacting word problems

Digital game designs that exercise mathematics skills

Stock market analysis webcasts with percentages, graphs and analysis using algebra

3D physics animations using algebra to explain and predict angles of a thrown ball

3D bridge designs and engineering using geometry and calculus

3D animations showing space travel simulations of trajectories using calculus and trigonometry

Algebra and calculus in programming algorithms and UI design for app design


Video game designs that exercise programming, mathematics, design thinking, engineering, marketing, etc.

Interactive 3D animated models that exhibit understanding of scientific or historical concepts

Interdisciplinary projects that combine all arts and academic disciplines in live and multimedia presentations

This leads to a new MAE-centered model of education, 

which is more student-centered, engaging, flexible, inclusive and effective.

NAMAE is seeking to create a network of associated members and organizations who support the inclusion of media arts as a core component of 21st century education for the benefit of all students. 

Please join us! Please support us!