Welcome to Wired Ivy Footnotes! Clippings from a previous episode, mulched with commentary from Dan and Kieran, to help your online course design and delivery skills grow.
The classic structure of formal education is built on a one-way flow of information, from teacher to student. Since most educators’ experiences as learners followed this conventional format, from K through 12 and beyond, it’s no wonder we often fall back on habit, stuck in that same transmit-only configuration even after we’ve transitioned from a traditional to a virtual classroom.
In Episode 18 – Virtual Speaks Volumes, our guest Rebecca Hutchinson of UMass Dartmouth shared a wonderfully multi-directional approach to teaching and screen sharing in her synchronous online sculpture classes, as you’ll hear in the following clip:
“The other thing I really love to do is, in the Zoom, I love turning my screen to them. Like, I love the screen share. I love that! I’ll tell them to go use their phone and take five pictures, quick!, around your surrounding area. You have 45 minutes. Run around! Take pictures of volumetric forms. I want to see your best examples of volume. And then we’re going to get back on the screen in 45 minutes. Please bring your top two images.
And I turn the screen over to them. They put their images up from their phone. And they talk through, and they’re in a transparent mode, right? Everybody’s hearing what volume looks like according to their eye.We’re able to engage as a whole group in that sort of transparent way. Turning the screen over is also a wonderful method, I’ve learned, to get out of the role of control. Let them take that control, and be a part of that responsible learning and sharing.”
DAN: Rebecca really comes in and shows a different angle of something we’ve talked about before – everybody gets a turn. In a discussion group, for example, no one’s going to be able to sit in the back and be quiet. They have to be present. But this really kind of takes it to another level, which is, we’re going to pass the camera around, not only to get a turn, but you get a turn with the camera and the mic.
I love the imagery around it and, of course, why wouldn’t a sculptor be giving me good imagery? And I, I just love the philosophy behind it as well.
Yeah, this is a chance for them to have full ownership, full agency of their learning activities. If you design it and set up a system where that is the expectation, and then you give them the tool, you know, I can’t imagine the great things that could come out of it.
I haven’t done it as much as I want to, as after having talked to Rebecca about this, I thought, “Oh, yeah, this is just a great angle on this, and how can I try to incorporate that some more?” And it’s something I’m still working on. I want to be able to do that very active, turning on the camera, turning on the mic, go-for-it kind of thing.
KIERAN: Well, and she’s talking about a synchronous lab experience, art lab, and you teach asynchronously. So that doesn’t mean that you can’t give people the opportunity to turn the camera on themselves, turn the microphone on, and then share that, it just has to be in a little bit different format.
What I took away from our interview with Rebecca is, this woman is fearless. Fearless! Right? How many other faculty do we know who would, in an online, virtual environment, let go of the reins and let students pick them up and go? It’s the absolute opposite of sage on a stage.
DAN: Yes, it really is, isn’t it?
KIERAN: One, that she was fearless about the idea that, of course you could teach sculpture online. Of course you can! That in itself is a big, courageous move, and you know that there’s a lot of people who had thought, “Are you crazy? That’as… how’s that possible?
And then to be able to say, “Oh, and guess what, I’m going to make the screen shareable for everybody. When so many faculty, especially in the past year with this unexpected move to online, probably didn’t even know how to turn on the everybody can screen share.
DAN: Right. I’ve given you the camera here right now.
KIERAN: Right? We need these kinds of people in order to push higher education, education of all sorts, into new realms. This kind of fearless approach to things, it’s amazing.
DAN: Well, and talking about pushing into new realms… one thing that I do that is a bit along these lines is, I’ll ask them to video themselves on some of our activities. The LMS that we have has a real trouble uploading large video files right now, so I said, “Go ahead and post it. You know, we can post it to YouTube if you want, just share this video.”
Last semester, all of a sudden, totally unprompted on my part, they all started pushing the videos to Tik Tok.
KIERAN: Oh wow! Oh cool!
DAN: I’ve never been on Tik Tok in my life and there it was, all on Tik Tok! And they had filters, and they had music, and they had all this stuff, and I was like, I didn’t even know to ask for this. It was really, it was really quite creative. I enjoyed it quite a lot. You know, they took me to Tik Tok. I didn’t take them to Tik Tok.
KIERAN: And you know what? I bet it was enjoyable for them, too. And even though so much of what they did in order to create those probably had very little to do with the subject matter that they were presenting, or what you were doing in the activity, they are going to remember that. They’re going to remember that!
And isn’t that what we’re trying to get to with our learning objectives? Isn’t that what making learning fun helps with? Isn’t that what giving them agency in their learning experience… that’s why! This is why we’re doing this, right? Because it helps these concepts to stick. It makes them memorable and meaningful to the people who are participating in them, in ways that you don’t have by taking notes as somebody else talks. Yeah.
DAN: Yes. Yes, yes, and yes. Yeah, absolutely.
KIERAN: Bravo Rebecca!
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Rebecca Hutchinson’s sculptural work has been shown in diverse venues across the United States, and internationally in countries such as Belgium, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan. She currently has an exhibit of large sculptures at the Danforth Art Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts. For over 20 years, Rebecca has also served as Professor of Art and Design at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Rebecca has been a pioneer in online instruction, with more than a decade of experience delivering both lecture and studio art classes using synchronous, asynchronous, hybrid, blended, and 100% online formats.
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Wired Ivy is wholly owned by Kieran Lindsey and Daniel Marcucci, and we are solely responsible for its content. Views expressed in this podcast and affiliated media are those of Kieran, Dan, and our guests, and do not represent Virginia Tech or any other institution. Our audio engineer is Star Path Images, and a license for our theme music, Breakfast with You, was purchased from SmartSound.
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