Taking studio practices online: case study 3

Studios and studio-based practices are at the core of the creative arts.  Across disciplines (such as performance, fine art, design or film to name but a few) tutors and course leaders are grappling with taking these traditions online. Lockdown has provided the spur to action, but how do we transform our physical teaching and learning practices so fundamentally while maintaining the quality of the student experience?

This series explores the importance of transposing, rather than mirroring, our teaching practices in the online environment.

For this third interview in the series we spoke to Kelly Chorpening, Programme Director, Fine Art Programme Director – Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, at Camberwell College of Arts.  Kelly is also a UAL Senior Teaching Scholar.

Online delivery: talking inclusivity and community vs screen fatigue with Kelly Chorpening, Camberwell College of Arts

What has surprised you in the move to creative teaching and learning online?

Three weeks into summer term I received a message from the college Disability Adviser. Could I please ring her? By this time, exhausted by efforts to transition online, I dreaded news that ‘it’ wasn’t working. In fact, she wanted to relay the opposite.

Overwhelming feedback from students accessing disability support was how helpful the change had been to their learning experience. Mainly this pertained to lectures and seminars, where in online mode, having short film clips and recorded lectures available to view in their own time and watch more than once, made material easier to process.

Even better, if this was followed by live contact with tutors and peers, they felt prepared and more able to engage in discussion, something that helped create a communal atmosphere. This sense of community was a surprise to the students even though they were working remotely.

What do you know now that you wish you had known at the start of the move to online delivery? 

If we’d known the above at the start of this transition, we would have altered delivery more significantly. We definitely anticipated screen fatigue going in, but it was difficult to know quite what to change.

We now know that students enjoy viewing pre-recorded material, and to be able to discuss it live with staff and students.  Having ‘the chat’ in these sessions has also enabled a broader range of students to contribute. Where in a lecture theatre they might be reluctant to interject, typing comments and questions offers another way to contribute.

Tell us about the online studio – is this a useful term to describe your online teaching and learning spaces?  

I think for many established artists ‘the studio’ can mean a shift into thinking and making work that isn’t necessarily aligned with a physical place. For the student, the ability to frame creativity in different ways other than what their education has provided – the locker, the shared desk, the easel, the wall – can be a challenge.

For those of us teaching Fine Art, this is and always will be changing picture. Seeing our students adapt to a huge variety of home working situations should help us adapt our teaching. While we’ll continue to appreciate the enormous opportunity our studios and workshops provide, we also need to equip students with the knowledge and confidence needed to sustain creativity once they graduate.

Other cases studies in this series:

Do you have a comment on this case study, or an experience you’d like to share? Email teachingexchange@arts.ac.uk.

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