The prospect of online classes may be exciting for people wanting a new learning or teaching experience. But Texas Tech students and faculty in the arts may face different challenges resulting from the transition to all online classes Monday.
Whether it be big projects that may be difficult to create at home or the lack of interaction needed to perform, there are a variety of reasons faculty in art fields may need to find different ways to present their classes online.
Robin Germany, interim director of the Tech School of Art, said for classes that are more lecture-based, such as art history, one can simply utilize Blackboard.
“The studio classes where things are a little bit more focused on actually working in a studio, using specific tools and learning techniques, faculty are having to be really innovative about what students need to learn,” she said.
Students and faculty within these studio courses may look at other avenues, such as having discussions about art topics, learning the history of certain art mediums and different art techniques, Germany said.
“I think a lot of the people in studio classes are looking at some of that work for students that will broaden their knowledge and understanding of the medium to go along with their knowledge of techniques,” she said.
One challenge faculty are facing is finding resources that will help ease the transition to online classes and then sorting through those resources to find the best ones, Germany said. The Tech Teaching, Learning and Professional Development Center provides resources for faculty who need to teach art studio courses online.
Another challenge comes when transitioning classes that consist of using a lot of equipment to complete projects, Germany said. Ceramics, work in the 2-D studios, printmaking or sculpture are some areas that utilize equipment students may not have access to at home.
“It’s an interesting experiment in rethinking what do students really need to learn, and how can we be flexible about the kind of things we learn and how all these things come together to build the whole student or the whole artist,” she said. “I think it really pressed us to consider a wider range of activities as part of making the artist a whole functioning professional.”
Kim Walker, director of the Tech School of Music, said Zoom will be used to deliver instrumental lessons.
“For music, we needed something very simple, so the professor and student could see each other, or they could have almost a group discussion about an ensemble situation,” she said. “So, then we got tools called SmartMusic.”
There are a variety of issues that result from transitioning music classes to online, Walker said.
“We used to have music lessons one-on-one in a room. Now, we’re online,” she said.
Whether it be getting the sound quality right or showing someone how to properly position a violin, Walker said there are multiple aspects of learning music that will be affected with the transition to online courses.
In addition, Walker said faculty are concerned about students, especially senior students, lacking the chance to perform for experience.
“Our goal is to offer them every opportunity to suspend, defer and come back to play those recitals,” she said. “Or if they need to graduate, then we’ll find different types of recitals, solutions.”
Regarding opportunities to practice one’s skills during a live performance, Mark Charney, director of the Tech School of Theatre and Dance, said the biggest downfall of the class transition is missing the chance to host certain productions.
“We were rehearsing some original plays, original dances that we were presenting in the black box. We were rehearsing a big musical of “Guys and Dolls,” and we were rehearsing a devised piece based on “The Jungle Book,” and all those had to be canceled,” he said. “I think that was the hard thing. I don’t think education is going to suffer, I think what we’re going to be missing is the idea of an audience.”
Applications, such as Zoom, will provide an outlet for a student to reach their professor and peers, who will act similar to an audience, Charney said.
“If you’re performing, we can not only critique what you’re doing right there, live, you can change it. It’s just getting used to having a camera,” he said.
Certain arts administration, history or literacy criticism classes will be easy to teach online, Charney said. But classes, such as design and dance will be harder to teach online.
Regardless, moving to an online teaching format will provide an opportunity view teaching in a different manner, Charney said.
“It does force us to reexamine how we present information,” he said, “and that’s never a bad thing for a professor.”