Art classes adapt to online-based learning

Story by Kinsley Alley, Staff Writer

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation and around the world have ended face-to-face schooling and have turned to online classes. Baker University is one of thousands of universities to make this decision. 

Students and professors have spent the last few weeks adjusting to this new change. Many professors are able to send a lecture and notes to students each week with all of the information they will need. But, some classes are not as lucky.

Art classes are hands-on and need in-person interaction to truly ensure students are receiving the needed skills and information. For Professor of Art and ceramics teacher Inge Balch and juniors Calvin Ball and Morgan Thomas this is a challenge they are facing head on together.

Ceramics cannot be done online; students need clay and tools. Balch has had to get creative with the projects she is giving students.

“What I have done with my students is I have given them research projects. […] They just have to use the other side of the brain for a change and try to be creative,” Balch said.

Thomas is one of her students attempting to completely switch from being a hands-on class to a research class.

“[…] what we are supposed to do is design what we would have done had we had the whole semester. So using our sketchbook and drawing it,” Thomas said.

For other art classes, like painting, Ball has had a different experience; he actually has the supplies he needs available.

“I went and picked up all of my materials and my professor is mailing me any more materials I’ll need for painting,” Ball said.

Rather than switching to research-based learning, this painting class has the opportunity to continue creating pieces and showing the art work to their professors through Zoom.

Professors and students are slowly getting used to the idea of learning through the computer, though students are facing another challenge more often than they previously had.

“The hardest part has been my self discipline to get these projects done,” Ball said. “There have been a lot of distractions and it’s easy to not want to do anything. I’ve had to create a schedule to make sure I stay on task.”

Thomas agrees, along with the majority of students. Finding that motivation and creating an environment with little distractions has been a challenge in and of itself. 

The hardest part of this transition for Balch has been quite different. She said, “I just miss my students, I have the best students in the world. When I come in there, you forget about everything else and you just have a good time.”

With all of the negative aspects coming from abruptly switching to online courses in the middle of the semester, there are still some positives. 

“My professors are doing a great job at communicating what they want and their expectations still and trying to make it as convenient as possible for the students,” Thomas said.

The key to getting through this unheard of event is staying positive. 

“I think we are doing quite well, it is not what we planned on doing, but it is just real life. You have to stay optimistic, have a good sense of humor, and you will get through it.”