Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Student Collaboration

Screen shot of my class discussion board

Elliot asks: Through both my formal and informal art education, some of the best parts were collaboration and inspiration for other students. It was always great to just walk through the studio and see what everyone else was working on. Are there any analogous experiences in your online class?
It is one of my biggest challenges in teaching online to create student-to-student interaction and collaboration. Where in a brick and mortar classroom it would be an automatic occurrence, it is something the teacher has to work for in a virtual classroom. There are several ways that I encourage students to work together in my classroom. During my live teaching lessons I emphasize interactive activities where multiple students can participate. They work together to answer a question or draw something on the board. The lessons serve to teach art history, technique, and to help students gain inspiration for their weekly assignment. I show professional works of art as well as student examples. Currently the technology I use for live teaching does limit students from talking to each other directly and that is a barrier in student collaboration. I added a discussion board to my classroom where students are encouraged to post their ideas and artworks and their classmates are encouraged to give feedback. I added the board after the class started therefore less students use it than I’d like, but I have high hopes for future semesters if it is introduced early. Where I have had the most success is when I did a live art critique. I let all students know it was optional and encouraged them to send me artwork if they wanted it to be shared. The response was overwhelming. Around 20 students attended and discussed their classmates’ artwork that had been sent in. Even after an hour, many students did not want to leave. There is a myth that students who attend school online do not wish to be social or don’t thrive in a social environment but I have found this to be untrue. I will be holding more live critiques, including in progress critiques to help create the experience that Elliot mentions in his question.

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