Renowned poet and writer Dana Gioia once said, “The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.”
In a bid to extend their reach, an increasing number of educators are turning to technology to help them connect with their students.
Although online tutoring for subjects of an academic nature has been popular for quite some time, creative fields like art are also enjoying an increased online presence. Taking art teaching to a completely virtual environment, however, is a big step, as it typically involves more of a hands-on approach than academic teachings do.
Thankfully, there is a range of apps, online platforms and tools that can be utilized to make the transition to online teaching significantly easier for both the teacher and the students.
Read more: 4 Tips for making the transition to remote learning a smooth one
Teaching a hands-on class in a virtual environment
When moving your art classes online, it becomes important to scrutinize your teaching beliefs and methods and find a way to utilize technology to effectively reach your students.
Teaching art online will undoubtedly be more difficult for some instructors than for others. If you are prone to physically assisting students by making corrections or suggestions on their art, it will be more testing than if you had a completely hands-off approach.
When teaching online, the majority of your classes will be in video form – regardless of whether you are demonstrating a new technique or providing feedback. While the thought of creating online tutorials and live video streams may be somewhat daunting, having the right tools at your disposal will make it a simple and even enjoyable endeavor.
Start with the theory
While video recordings and live streams are ideal for demonstrating new techniques, the technologies can also be used to teach the various theoretical aspects of art, including its history and methodology.
Regardless of the medium of art being taught, there are always a lot of interesting facts that can be conveyed to students. Tattoo artistry, for example, has a long and colorful history that dates back to around 3100 BC.
There are also a number of intriguing ancient and traditional practices that would be of great interest to students, and which can be conveyed in a simple PDF file or slideshow presentation. Information pertaining to the various materials that will be used in class, as well as a look at some of the greatest artists in history, can be shared in a similar fashion.
A variety of extra resources can also be compiled from across the web and sent to students in the form of text files, podcasts, videos, and photo-tutorials.
Read more: Podcasting in the classroom: The digital tool you should be using
Create a range of short video tutorials
Whether you're teaching sketching, sculpting or painting, you can record yourself delivering powerful tutorials, which can be either shared via URL or email attachments, or accessed from a platform such as a learning management system or through various other digital tools that your students might be familiar with.
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If you have a dedicated studio area and recording equipment available, making high-quality tutorials will be an easy feat. Thankfully, thanks to most modern-day smartphones being equipped with very good cameras, creating suitable video tutorials with a phone or webcam is a viable option for online teachers.
There are great apps to be utilized
There is a wide variety of inexpensive and easy-to-use tools that can be utilized to teach art remotely. There are apps that record and share videos, apps that filter photos, apps that create animations, and apps that allow you to turn your studio into a virtual classroom.
While the Seesaw application allows you to create tutorials to share with your art students, Screencastify makes it easy to record, edit and share videos with your students, both from your phone and your computer.
By using video conferencing apps like Skype, Zoom or AdobeConnect, you can host a virtual art class from the comfort of your home. Your students can tune in via smartphone or PC and can freely engage in a group context just like they would in class.
In order for your students to receive the same quality of feedback they would in a traditional setting, short one-on-one video calls can be made to evaluate progress and give feedback and encouragement.
Keep the momentum going
Online art teachers are encouraged to keep the momentum going by offering virtual classes at the same as frequency normal classes. If you offer classes once a week, use this model online too, unless you feel that both yourself and your students can benefit from extra classes.
It is also recommended to not deviate too much from the original lesson plans. Don’t feel obliged to be available to your students at all hours of the day either, but rather set aside a few hours to record your lessons and interact with your students.
Read more: Teacher PD training: Should self-care be part of it?
All in all
Taking your art classes online is undoubtedly a very big step. With proper planning and the right tools at your disposal, however, it could prove to be a very enlightening and beneficial endeavor.