Educator Highlight

Educator Highlight: Karen Artis

Karen Artis is an Instructional Technology Specialist at Stonewall Tell Elementary in College Park, Georgia.  In her classroom, her primary school students learn industry standard software through such as Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Revit.  Karen also coaches other teachers in her district to encourage them to integrate technology into their core curriculum.

What led you to design education?

When I was younger, my first creative career was classical dance. I have always yearned to express creativity because it allows me to use my ideas and apply them effectively. The process of being able to create a product was not tiring at all, but a necessity. It was this drive that led to designing digital content for my lessons and instruction to ignite that same passion in my students. Design Education includes so many different curriculum content areas.

Along with my drive to expose students to design education, I serve as a coach to other teachers to integrate digital arts into their lessons.  I wanted to unleash their creativity and teach them the skills to not only come up with brilliant ideas but to turn them into a reality in their classroom. By doing so, they can teach a subject that complements students’ wider learning and bring it to life in practical terms – from math and science to computing and art.

What is the most rewarding thing about being an educator?

The possibility of providing students an array of skills that they can develop into exciting careers is very rewarding, but also seeing students apply their learning from other areas of the curriculum into practice is its own reward.

How do you encourage creativity in your classroom?

You can encourage creativity in the classroom by simply allowing students’ natural abilities to shine. One of the first things I do when introducing my students or teachers to a new concept is to play the Autodesk 2013 Show Reel.  This video extends students’ and teachers’ imagination and gives a full idea of what is possible with 3D design software.

How do you bring innovation into the classroom?

When students are engaged in real-world problems, scenarios, and challenges, they find relevance in the work and become engaged in learning important skills and content. Our lab was in need of new computer tables. The lab has visibility issues because there are information poles throughout the room. I wanted students to design a desk that would fit around the poles and if possible improve the visibility problems of the front board. The students designed great options, and we are looking to collaborate with a school partner that builds furniture to see if we can create the design.

How do you use Autodesk Design Academy in your classroom?

I’ve aligned Design Academy projects, like Cell Division Animation, to curriculum standards and provide an authentic hands-on approach by customizing the resources Design Academy provides to my classroom.  You can see a PDF showing how I aligned the Meteor Crash: Solar System project here.

Karen customizes Autodesk Design Academy projects such as Cell Division Animation to align them with the subjects she teaches in her classroom.


Watch Karen's video on incorporating Design Academy into the classroom