Art department adjusts to online format, doing projects away from studio

During the pandemic, the art department has faced a lack of guided practice time between students and professors while conducting online classes. (File Photo by Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

Every student at Kansas State was forced to adapt quickly when classes shifted online after spring break to slow the local spread of COVID-19, and art students are just one group having to make do by using some creative tactics.

Matthew Gaynor, head of the art department, said the department is in the process of assessing what changes the curriculum might need should the current online-only situation — or a modified version of it — be required in the fall.

“We are confident that whatever the content, the art department will be able to deliver the same high-quality instruction and creative inspiration we have been known for in whatever context we find ourselves,” Gaynor said.

Jenn Hudson, graduate teaching assistant in the art department, teaches Water Media and will teach Drawing 1 over the summer as an adjunct professor. Hudson said she makes video tutorials and time-lapse demonstrations of upcoming projects and uploads them to Canvas so her students can work from those instructions.

Hudson said that the greatest challenge she’s faced during the shift to an online format is the lack of guided practice time. Students working in studio with the instructor have more opportunity to receive feedback quickly while an assignment is in progress, she said.

“Many of the instructors in the art department often do quick, informal, critiques in class which allow for immediate feedback, checks for understanding and redirection that are more difficult to do via remote teaching platforms because of the time lag,” Hudson said.

Gaynor said the department was able send materials to students that would allow them to complete their work. Other classes that are already more technologically and digitally focused had a more seamless transition — barring issues of home internet and WiFi strength.

The faculty’s development of online tutorials in essential concepts and processes that artists and designers must know to succeed can be used in the future, Gaynor said, as this allows teachers to focus on student’s creative developments. Additionally, it affords students the opportunity to review material previously only available in the studio.

Hudson said she has not had to make major changes to her curriculum, but other courses such as ceramics, where the necessary supplies are not practical to work within a home environment, have had to adjust more.

Every student in her class, regardless of whether or not they had access to their original kit from home, received a new packet of supplies, and she said instructors have been working to create an online database of items that could be used in lieu of inaccessible materials.

Hudson says that she modified her curriculum by laying out all of the projects for the semester ahead of time. The video demonstrations that Hudson posts allow students to see an entire painting from start to finish which, Hudson said, is a time prohibitive activity during face-to-face instruction.

“It’s not ideal, but instructors are working hard for their classes to make sure their students are prepared for their future courses and field work,” Hudson said.