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The Internet as a Tool for Learning
As technology and the Internet become more enmeshed in everyday life, new developments have been coupled with education initiatives. Arts organizations and opera presenters are adopting and integrating new trends, as well as expanding current uses of technology, to fulfill their missions.
Fields such as sports and entertainment news have offered podcasts for years, but what about opera and the arts? As an aid to learning, companies have started producing podcasts to draw in the public. San Diego Opera has a podcast, hosted by Education and Outreach Director Nic Reveles, available for each of the works in its current season as a tool for audience members to use in preparation for attending a performance. The company's podcast page, available at sdopera.com/education/podcasts, also features short presentations on related topics, such as bel canto opera, arias and opera basics. Lyric Opera of Chicago's Backstage at Lyric series features over two dozen informative interviews with artistic personnel. Roger Pines, Lyric Opera of Chicago's dramaturg, says "While our podcasts are a wonderful way to strengthen relationships with our current audience base, they're also helping us to forge new relationships. The content of podcasts at Lyric is all about eliminating whatever barriers still exist for opera these days." Other companies making podcasts available to patrons include Nashville Opera, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera with This Moment in Opera and Los Angeles Opera with Behind the Curtain, to name only a few.
Another way to harness trends is to use technology to connect people with outreach programs. In Des Moines, an initiative called Connecting Kids and Culture, the brainchild of local funders and community organizations, acts as a digital liaison between students and arts organizations. Des Moines Metro Opera's education and outreach programs can be found via search criteria (school district, subject and appropriate grade level).
Across the Atlantic, the English National Opera's (ENO) Web initiative, ENO Interactive, is an online hub that allows those interested in opera to learn about the art form through videos, blogs and music from the current season in a structured, user-friendly format. Further, their youth education page, Inside Out, gives users a comprehensive look at backstage life, a virtual tour of the opera house and even online singing lessons! ENO also extends its Web presence by using the social networking tools MySpace and Facebook. This is not a solely European trend, however, as you can find many North American companies on these sites, including the Canadian Opera Company, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Boston, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera and many more.
Developing Web trends have enhanced the way companies reach both current and new audiences, and the examples above are simply a few options that organizations use. Log on and include your organization on the list!
For a glossary of terminology related to developing technology, visit webtrends.about.com.
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