As we continue our series on addressing the challenges brick-and-mortar art teachers face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we shift our focus to technical concerns. The issues addressed here were submitted by art teachers, but many of the solutions apply to all teachers who are new to online education.
While these challenges and solutions are not all encompassing, they are meant to provide help and hope to the nation’s creative-minded leaders and enable them to overcome their most debilitating hurdles. For more information on this topic, refer to Part 1 of this series.
Lack of Sufficient Internet and Spotty Communication
Many internet and wireless providers have halted their data caps and waived late fees and overage charges for the time being due to the pandemic. While students may not have landline Internet access, wireless is almost always an option. Smart devices are at everyone’s fingertips.
Think about creating your own YouTube channel, Facebook group, or Instagram account to reach students. Take advantage of the fact that your students are already using these platforms. You will undoubtedly increase your opportunity for exposure by using them too.
Especially for younger students, remember that they want to see your face and hear your voice. Do not let your comfort level with being recorded in front of the camera stop you. Record succinct, informative, and engaging content. Keep your segments under ten minutes, as attention spans dwindle quickly. Phone calls and text messages may become the only way you are able to reach your students.
Everyone’s schedules have been affected by the pandemic. It may be hard for students to attend a certain “in real time” meeting due to the happenings of the household; however, it is still important that they understand and respect the need for timely communication. If necessary, add a communication grade to their overall percentage; this could replace the already active participation grade if in motion.
Parents are unfamiliar with systems or are not tech savvy
Be patient. Direct these parents to the help tutorials provided within the systems. Make simple, direct, step-by-step navigation videos and documentation. Enlist the help of your IT department if you are using a district-wide system. Finally, give parents a quick lesson on using key terms and search strings to generate relevant results via any search engine.
Use of Copyrighted Materials and Fair Use
Copyrighted material and resources are permitted to be used in teaching and research without fulfilling the typical requirement of payment or seeking permission under the fair use doctrine. It is important that you still practice proper citation for your resources, especially as a model for your students.
Lack of Shared Physical Space and Emotional Connection
Art is a personal response and experience. The emotional connection between art teachers and their students is strong. To provide students with the opportunity to experience their peers’ work and to receive feedback on their own, set up a discussion board or online gallery to showcase their work. Email your IT department examples to post on the district’s website. Create a newsletter that gives opportunities to share students’ work as well as updates on their lives and yours alike. Seeing their work elsewhere will give them the confidence and recognition they need to continue.
While a virtual environment may not be your first choice, it is important to remain positive, ask for help when needed, and understand that you are not alone. How are you handling technical difficulties during the switch to distance learning? Please share your tips and suggestions in the comment section below.
Nicole Rimbey is the K-12 Electives Lead at Lincoln Learning Solutions and has been with the company for 9 years. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in Art Education. Nicole is married to her high school sweetheart and together they have two little girls. She is passionate about every child having a positive art experience regardless of the learning environment. Nicole enjoys making art, photography, ice cream, Cherry Coke, fashion, and motherhood.