Matt Katz Ceramic Materials Workshop, Alfred University, Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard Ceramics, Montana State, +

This is certainly a stress and there are some great ideas coming from the group.
I am one of the few people in ceramics that is currently teaching exclusively online and have been for over five years. It is a wonderful platform, and personally I do not wish to teach any other way. I do have one major advantage, in that I exclusively teach ceramic materials (glaze calc and clay bodies) and they are primarily an information based medium. We do incorporate laboratory testing into our online content, but it is purely complimentary to the lecture and conversational content. So a lot of our students take our coursework without any actual glaze testing.

I have been asked repeatedly over the last five years how to teach studio online, and I’m sad to report that even after all this time, I don’t have an answer. It is quite a riddle. But I think that there has been a lot of worthwhile ideas in this and the other ongoing discourses.

I will describe to you, what we do and hopefully it will provide some guidance as you begin to design your program online.

First, we work in a series of online recorded lectures. These are based on our written powerpoint lectures, that we would use in a lecture style class. This is a sample section of one of our classes.

Although no one likes being on camera, we firmly believe in the live video of me in the corner of the lecture. We find that it help to provide the students with a point of focus, to keep their attention. Otherwise their minds drift (especially on a drier subject like glaze chem).

You can record lectures in powerpoint (sorry I don’t use keynote so I can’t say). That said we don’t use that feature, To get the live video, combined with the PP slide, we recorded on Open Broadcaster Software.  It is a free, very powerful piece of software… but it is not the most user friendly

We then post our videos on a private Vimeo page.

From Vimeo, we then post private links to any educational platform.

We have taught on Blackboard, Canvas, Brightsapce/D2L and others. They are all the same at the end of the day The main thing is to create an engaging environment for the students, which admittedly is tricky.

The second aspect of our practice is the live discussion, we host weekly, live discussions with our students. Providing them with active interaction, that engages their appreciation of the content.

We use the premium version of Google hangouts. We prefer it to Zoom, but use what you have available. The both have their shortcomings.

Our personal live discussion content is based on Q&A from lecture content, and reviewing glazes tests that they have completed. This is the studio aspect that is complicated with remote learning. But, from teaching for years, we have lots of already tests that we completed, that we can share with the students for discussion.

We do this by having the students document their tests in a powerpoint file that they submit to us. We then share this, through the screen share feature, on google hangout.

A lot of online courses are based around the use of message boards for interaction. Of course we value message boards for communication. But we see them as complimentary, not as foundational to the online experience.

The last thing I will say is to try to put as much production value as you can in your content. People’s engagement is based on feeling like their time is being values and production value is the foundation of that.

That is pretty much it, I wish I had more productive ideas for those of you in a studio course, but is is a place to start.


Posted on

March 20, 2020

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