Teaching art online under covid-19

In these traumatic corona virus days everything has been turned upside down, from postal delivery, shopping in supermarkets, theatres, holiday’s and not to mention education. Corona now happens to be the new normal, whereby everyone and everything has been and will be affected for some time to come.

Art education is one of the areas that has been drastically changed. Art teachers have got to think very hard, how they can teach art online. Having been a classical teacher of art for 40 years, I have been faced with the same problem. Having just started teaching art online, I have met with some pitfalls in online teaching but also had some very rewarding moments. I will gladly share them with you here. If you haven’t already taken the plunge, here are some tips.

New audience
Not all of your current pupils will appreciate the new way of teaching. It is not for everyone. But on the other side, many creative people are on the look out for a new creative outlet. Let’s face it, smeering paint is one of the best things in life. You need to tap into this new audience.

Make sure that you use or brush up on your marketing skills. Tools like a well organised and informative website are essential. Regular exposure on social media platforms are important. Write to your fan base and inform them of your online teaching courses and workshops.

Keep your group small
I have noticed that keeping the student numbers small helps with personal contact. This ultimately makes more work but I feel it’s worth it.

Show yourself
Putting yourself online even if your hair is a mess or you haven’t got any make up on really doesn’t matter, your students want to see you, these days just a voice or an email isn’t enough.

Get to know your pupils by asking personal questions. “What did you do today”, “what’s your cats name”, or “what are you having for dinner?” Ask to see their art work in various stages, start, middle and end. Always give advice and encouragement, this provides confidence and self esteem.

Different ways
There are many ways to teach creative subjects online. You can demonstrate a painting yourself or I find that painting, drawing or making the subject in front of my students is always beneficial.  These lessons can be recorded and sent to each student, so that they can take their time if they need it, to complete the lesson. A shopping list and list of things needed at the beginning of the course is essential, plus the codes to get into the lesson. I often provide stencils of things that are a little complicated to draw for the ones who are less proficient.

I use a webcam to connect with my students. There are many different kinds with different price tags out there. The software I use is Zoom. This I find lets me and the others interact with each other. Students can show the artwork they have been working on and you can give them critique and advice real time. When you teach online you tend to verbalise more and things can become more interesting and exciting, exhilarating and gratifying.

If you haven’t yet done so, just take the plunge,
Jean Elliot