Teaching and learning online

So, let me give you a little behind the scenes look a the glamourous world of online art course (well mine at least).

When we went into lockdown my online set up was very simple;

Mobile phone, bendy arm so it could stretch over my work table, my daughter’s laptop (mine proved too slow for the task!).

A BIG…HUGE…thanks to a couple of students who took private sessions with me at the start and were patient enough to help me tweak camera set ups and such. These were done on skype, which worked well, but was a bit clunky to entre initially (although now I have so much more experience with video apps, I feel much more confident.)

At the same time, I was also teaching online for our local Adult Education provider. These sessions and the process we had to use really made me realise how I didn’t want to teach online! It gave me the experience to see what a good online course should look like. I’m super grateful to students for sticking with the process. It definitely spurred me on.

Before my current course (September to December 2020) I tested the water with a short 5 week course. The consensus was that many students had had success with ZOOM during lockdown, so I gave it a try. As a free app you are limited to 40 minutes and although things worked much better, this sudden cut off time really broke the flow of the session. Thankfully students seemed to enjoy the content or at least thought they might come back for more!

So, my 12-week course started. I pay for zoom now so have unlimited time. The cost is a bit high for just one course a week but it’s working well.

I then had a lockdown birthday! Which prompted me to get a new laptop. My partner - and begrudging IT/Media team manager (my daughter being the onsite IT second-in-command during the week) - got my organised with other equipment; camera, microphone, lights. Along with a ‘rig’ for it all to attach to, including new shelves for my equipment (which I hope you will get to see soon in some upcoming videos) and a new table top (this hasn’t quite materialised yet….but as there are bits of it in the lounge I’m hoping we will both see it soon!!!!).

Here I am set up and ready for my next online session. There is a lot of clamping and clipping, plugging in and switching on before I can get started.

We’ve had a few hiccups with the white balance…mostly due to me not following the instructions and the IT 2nd still being in bed! But I think I’m getting better. My Daughter keeps teasing me about being a Vlogger or a streamer and ‘I should make podcasts’… I smile and remind myself whatever I do don’t ask her what that all means!

I’m also getting a bit better at editing my videos….well, if not better, quicker at least. I’m not as good at talking to the camera as I thought I would be. You can either have ‘Tricia strange deer in headlights acting to camera’ or ‘Tricia chatting, getting engrossed in what I’m painting, mumbling to myself, forgetting that I’m filming’….. I’m waiting for ‘Tricia the amazing artist, confidently describing what I’m doing as I professionally work away to create a masterpiece’ to pop by, but no luck yet.

My other favourite ‘Tricia’ is the one who, while in an online lesson forgets which button to click on to swap between camera views, or isn’t sure whether she has pinned herself or another student for everyone to see. Quite often the ‘Thinking hard Tricia’ is a sight no-one needs to see for the fifth time during a lesson!

I am loving teaching online. And there is no doubt that making my own videos and video courses has taught me a lot. I’m not sure where all the time goes when I’m trying to edit a 20 minute video and I’m already on my third day…but…I am getting better…I am….aren’t I?

After all this ‘practise’ over the past 6 months I must be!

Let me know what you think about learning online and what makes a great online experience.

Blog you later…..


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