Teaching Art in Online School
If you took art classes when you attended middle or high school, you probably remember creating art projects, discussing famous works of art, or practicing new design techniques. Families considering making the switch to online learning may wonder if these enriching experiences will be available for their kids. Fortunately, while online drawing, photography, or graphic design classes may look a bit different, students who attend online public or online private school can study art—and may actually have more course options than their peers in traditional schools.
Veteran art teachers Beth Bundy of Oregon Connections Academy and Wendy Aracich of Georgia Connections Academy recently presented at the National Art Education Association’s National Convention, sharing their unique perspective as online public school art teachers with other educators across the country. We sat down with Beth and Wendy to ask them about their experience teaching art in an online school, and here’s what they told us:
Q: What does an online art class look like for students?
Beth: Students regularly log into our LiveLesson® online classroom, where we hold art demonstrations, discuss lessons, and share student artwork. These real-time classes are a great way for students to have conversations with their peers and get other students’ feedback on a particular project.
Wendy: LiveLesson sessions are such a great opportunity to have engaging conversations about art. My students love “art of the day” sessions, where they come together to review a piece of art and discuss how it connects to other subjects or current events.
Q: How is teaching art online different from teaching in a traditional classroom?
Beth: The biggest difference in teaching art online is that as teachers, we aren’t able to physically see students create their art projects in real time. Understanding the process to create a piece of art is extremely important, so we ask students to routinely reflect and show how they progressed through the project. I’ve found that asking students to discuss their process from brainstorm to creation, explaining why they made certain choices, is extremely helpful. In art, it’s not all about the end product but the process too.
Wendy: In virtual school, there is often less direct instruction and more on-demand instruction for our students. I use videos so that students can access a lesson or demonstration whenever it is convenient for them. They watch these videos on their own time, and then we can use LiveLesson class sessions as an opportunity to ask questions and get help with a project. I also ask students to explain how they made a specific piece of artwork. It’s important for students to be able to tell us what did and didn’t work during an assignment in order to learn and grow.
Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching art in an online school?
Beth: I enjoy having the time to talk to my virtual school students individually and learn more about their interests. I can call and talk to a student for thirty minutes and have a discussion about how that student relates to art, how we might be able to modify lessons to fit with their passions, and more. These conversations are so important to build relationships with students and make sure they are engaged in the class.
Wendy: I love that I can work with students one-on-one in the online setting and have the opportunity to get to know them well. I learn about my students’ families, passions, and future aspirations, and because of this relationship the art that I get from students is something that’s really personal to them. In online school, I can better customize curriculum to each student and spark that excitement in art.
Q: What do students say about their online art classes? Do they enjoy taking art online?
Beth: One thing that I hear from students is that they have more time to work on their art projects, which is critical to learning and mastering skills. In a traditional school, students only have a set class period to work on projects, but in an online class their creative time is whenever and wherever they want.
I also love hearing from my students living in rural areas, where access to art resources in their community might be limited. Regardless of where they live, online school students are getting these art opportunities.
Wendy: We have some amazing and talented students in our art classes who tell me the online class format is great for their needs. Students who perhaps weren’t comfortable speaking up in an in-person class now have the opportunity to chat and engage in conversation in a setting where they are comfortable. This engagement is key to success.
At Connections Academy®–supported online schools, students have access to a variety of art education courses, ranging from digital art and design to art and world cultures, as well as art clubs and special events. Students can also use the increased flexibility of online school to pursue their artistic interests, taking local classes or participating in workshops.
How have you encouraged your children to explore creative pursuits?