Jessica Wilt is an artist (tap dancer by trade) and founder of ArtsEdTechNYC, a "platform for artists, educators, techies and entrepreneurs." Wilt is also a communications strategist, educator, arts education advocate, and writer living and working in New York City. Wilt’s writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and the Clyde Fitch Report among other media outlets and she is a VOICE Charter School Board Trustee and acting Chair of the Arts Education Council with Americans for the Arts where she is an ARTSblog contributor. Wilt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Dance from the University of South Florida and a Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography from The Ohio State University.
EXCLUSIVE NEW LEARNING TIMES INTERVIEW
Question: How did your educational trajectory (background) affect your current work?
Answer: I put my first pair of tap shoes on when I was five years old and have been hooked on the arts ever since! I was fortunate to have had exposure to the performing and visual arts at an early age during my K-12 years and later in college. Every child today should have some kind of arts experience at school—it's a human right. My work in arts education as an educator, administrator, consultant, and advocate continue to guide my life's work in the arts. ArtsEdTechNYC is the next chapter.
Question: What professional experiences have been most formative to your current work?
Answer: Upon college graduation, I immediately jumped into the classroom and was teaching both K-12 and college-level dance for a few years. When I arrived in New York City seven years ago, I worked for several arts and cultural institutions in a director of education capacity and learned the ropes of how the NYC Department of Education operates. A series of events including sitting on the board of directors with the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable, becoming a national arts education advisory council member with Americans for the Arts (where I am now acting chair), joining the VOICE Charter School board and freelance writing for the Huffington Post during the last presidential election season really opened doors for me professionally.
Question: How do you hope your work will change the learning landscape?
Answer: About three years ago I became a blogger and was introduced to the EdTech landscape via social media like Twitter and co-working spaces like General Assembly and the Centre for Social Innovation where I am currently located. I realized there was a huge gap between how some were leveraging technology in their classrooms incredibly well and how my arts education community was slow to embrace technology and social media.
I launched ArtsEdTechNYC a year ago as a platform for people to network, exchange ideas and learn from others who are using technology in successful, meaningful ways with arts education being the anchor. I continue to be inspired by the connections that are being made, the stories that are being shared, and hope the future of ArtsEdTech becomes a virtual platform for those in the arts, education, and tech fields to collaborate and learn from each other, especially teaching best practices and professional development modeling.
Question: What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
Answer: Technology is evolving at lightning speed and I remain curious to see how our education system evolves and adapts to a plethora of options available today. We cannot deny our kids are learning and communicating differently with the influence and access of technology growing by the day. I'm also hopeful that locally in NYC more emphasis and funding will swing back towards supporting arts education in our schools. The greater task is how we can sustain arts education programs in our schools, no matter what administration is in charge.
Question: What are you currently working on & what is your next big project?
Answer: I'm preparing for the next phase of growth for ArtsEdTech. I'm looking forward to seeing this platform grow from Meetup to startup and the rest of this year will be focused on more clearly defining ArtsEdTech's mission and investigate what a virtual platform might look like. I remain really optimistic about the STEAM movement and will be working with a few schools building STEAM initiatives in their schools. It's a very exciting time for arts education and technology in our schools!
Image: Courtesy Jessica Wilt