Studio Arts Classes Find the Beauty in Distance

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For LMU Studio Arts faculty, the idea of teaching visual and physical art classes virtually was daunting from the start. But much to their delight, the experience ended up working in their favor for several advanced art classes, with our faculty discovering that there are in fact unanticipated benefits to be found in having students create and share art in an online classroom setting. 

One particular teaching success was the Zoom feature of screen sharing for class collaboration and feedback. Traditionally, if a student wanted to share an idea with everyone, they would need to gather around one screen, or be called to the front of the class to share. With the Zoom screen share feature, students were able to show their work to the class instantly and receive feedback and critiques during class. Providing feedback is especially important in an advanced art class environment where watching the professor guide fellow peers can help students sharpen their eye for design and find smart design solutions. 

Samir Naimi, a studio arts lecturer who teaches courses in Type and Experimental Type, noted that using the tools of screen share, recording Zoom class sessions, anonymous polls and break out rooms allowed his classes to save a lot of time. “Being able to split the course into quick breakout rooms was a great asset to have,” said Naimi. “Groups used this time to strengthen their ideas and present findings back to each other much more quickly than we could do in traditional class settings. To my surprise, overall the classes actually became more collaborative in a virtual environment, which helped students see things in a new light and benefit from the nature of working alongside a team. 

Of course, in many classes the student learning outcomes and work did vary slightly from a typical in-person semester, but in ways that became enriching, teaching students to think outside the box – and important skills for art students. According to Macha Suzuki, a clinical assistant professor who teaches 2D and 3D Design, the learning outcomes in his 3D art classes that involved being wellversed with shop tools, instead shifted to finding creative solutions with materials and processes. For his 2D design class, however, he was able to maintain the same learning objectives.It was rewarding to track the progress in my 2D-Design class with the introduction of new projects,” said Suzuki. “I was initially nervous to see how the semester would unfold, but I was very pleased to see that the students were able to implement much of what they learned into their final project. 

Overall, I was very impressed with what could be accomplished within a virtual learning environment,” Naimi told us. “It allowed us a sort of freedom to do things differently than what I was used to in a typical classroom setting, and I am surprised to say that I do see that there are actually a number of benefits when virtual learning is done properly.