Sunday, February 25, 2018

Why I love to teach online.....

No, not a quilt ...just my favorite color!  Scotland, Bonnie Scotland.....
When Carol Miller (late of Quilt university) first called me to ask me to teach an online class for her, I thought it couldn't possibly work.  I felt that without the face to face contact there couldn't be any personal interaction, and that teaching would, therefore, be much more difficult...and dry.

I also thought - what a drag it would be having to write out all the lessons!!!  And I'd never get the fun of travel...

Time:Mine
 ..but the more I do teach online, the more I feel it's a superior method.  Yes it's true there isn't the socializing!! but there  also isn't the increasing hassle of travel.  And travel is also Very time consuming...it would take me at least a day - usually 2 or - 3 to get everything packed, and even the shortest flight meant leaving home 4 or 5 hours ahead of time, so just hopping to the next state was really an all-day affair.  another day lost.  Same  thing coming back, and then 2-3 days getting unpacked...so then I was  losing  up to a week without adding on any actual teaching days.

Time: Students
Many students, too, have long and arduous journeys schlepping all those supplies, and  many need to take time off work too ...that time would be better spent in their studio or sewing space, or just in a thinking place!  (like the above!).

Lessons:
When I started writing the lessons, I realized that, writing over several weeks as I usually do, I had many many more ideas for creating exercises, designs, explaining composition and creativity and so on, than ever I did when just talking in the class room - even with copious notes - yes, sometimes too copious!  I remember one venue got very fed up with me from holding students up from "vendor shopping time" - agh!  big biz!!  And I enjoy writing the lessons, doing the research, mulling over possibilities.

Student Development
...and  then it struck me that (as an online course takes weeks not days) the students also have a lot more time to really think about things, to do some research - usually online of course, for after all..that's where they are.  If you go to a symposium for fun, that's fine, and it's great!  especially if it's somewhere really neat and you meet some great new friends. No better place!   BUT what if you're going to learn something?   And it's a very large classroom and the teacher hardly ever gets round to you (that's happened to me several times when I've gone to painting workshops - and, initially, quilting workshops too.)  What can I personally learn from a Big Name if I'm one of 40 or 50 crammed into a classroom or hotel conference room for 3-4 days?

Personal Critiques
With the online classes I'm able to help each student personally, and other students can "listen" in and learn by kibitzing (often not possible in a large seminar work room).   I also have the time to think about any questions posed to me - in the classroom you pretty much have to answer straight away and (you never know!) your second or third thoughts on the matter could be better...you've got time and opportunity to think about those when you're online.

Cost
...for the teacher - yes I must admit - you can make a lot more money in person, there's no doubt!
but for the student - online classes are just a fraction of the cost of one of the big symposiums, and considerably less even than a guild-sponsored workshop.  That means that many more different kinds of people can take the workshops, greater range of ages and backgrounds...and incredibly wider geographical range.

Personal Contact is possible!
It wasn't long after I began teaching online that I realized just how GOOD it is!! And how much we can get to know each other, I love especially people who have taken several classes from me and I get a real sense of who they are and where they are going.

So, if you've never taken an online class, check me out at academyofquilting.com     - as well as me there are Lots of other teachers....and just see for yourself how much more satisfying a class is that has longer period of study, with less hassle, and more teacher contact.

Now I will admit that not all online classes are equal...there are some out there that treat neither the students nor the teachers very well....in my experience you'll get the most for your money and time with a class that is more a small personal business rather than being part of a large scale commercial enterprise. The more advertising, hype, marketing, slick websites etc etc there is...remember...it's you who's paying for that!!!  My next timed (weekly lessons) class begins on Friday March 2nd, and there are several "on demand" classes you can take as well.

I'd love to hear what you think the pros and cons of live vs online classes are..comments!!!
from both the students' and the teachers'  points of view.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!    Elizabeth





14 comments:

elle said...

Agree. I tend to work/learn better when not in a /new/busy/distracting environment under my own or the teacher's time limitations. I luv on line classes.

Chris said...

E, interesting post. I have mainly done online classes from way back starting with Quilt University. Also have taken classes from Academy of Quilting, craftsy, iquilt, n*studio. I have taken all of your classes except the new 6 hour quilt one. That will have to wait until next year. I have even done the master class as well as the new independent study one as you know. I have done very few in person classes. Those have mainly been at a quilt show and only run for about 6 hours. I have also taken one day/ 6 hour classes at Create NJ.

So it seems I am an online kinda girl. The opportunity to take the online classes has been more available to me over the years. I did want to do Quilting by the Lake this year, but the cost was pretty high. The cost of online classes is very affordable. So the question is which do I prefer? From my history of taking classes you could conclude I prefer online classes. I suppose that is true. I am a very private person when I create. Taking an in person class means I would have to do it in front of others. That puts a lot of pressure on me. Sure the social interaction is great, but the pressure to “perform” is also very great. The tendency to compare myself to others increases as well. Sure those things can happen in an online class, but are more so for in person ones where the other students are right there. It is silly I know.... maybe taking an in person class for several days would help me get over that.

The in person classes I have taken are too short to really conclude how helpful the teacher was. I have never been in a class with 50 students, but even with half that number it is pretty hectic. Often the feedback from the teacher is not all that useful.....the old that’s nice comments even when in your heart you know it is not. Some were really great, however. But then the same could be said of the online teachers.

It certainly is easier getting ready for an online class. Nothing to pack or having to get there and hope you have everything. So I guess I will continue to take online classes.....

Chris

Precille Boisvert said...

From a student point of view. I recently took an in-person class from a well-known quilter visiting my area. My enjoyment of it was meeting and getting to know the other women in the class, all locals, and finding out what it is to be taking a quilting class in person. Although I enjoyed the class, it does not compare with the online quilting classes I have taken with you, Elizabeth. The initial instruction was through a Power Point slideshow, which can be done better in an online platform (better pictures one can revisit), and the discussions throughout the day were hit-and-miss type of advice as the instructor sat in the room. I had a small start on my project when I left but haven't retouched it yet. I am happy to have taken a picture of it at the end of the day so I can remember what I was trying to do! And one day's instruction was pricier than one of your online classes!!! I am totally sold on your online classes, I say yours, because not all are created equal. What I particularly enjoy about your online classes are the extensive instruction and the in-depth feedback you provide. Merci again for your teaching online!

Leigh said...

I'm an independent and fast learner, at the same time I'm very distractible. So I chat a LOT, and don't get much done in a classroom environment. I hate dragging all my supplies etc, and inevitably forget something important, or wish I had thought to bring something I hadn't thought I'd need.

I stopped taking classroom sewing classes a long time ago as I have all the books, videos, kits, etc, and it drives me NUTS when those "extra needy attention seekers" whine about how they caaaaannnn't do it and proceed to hog all the teacher time. Inexperienced teachers allow this, and some experienced teachers don't realize when it is happening to them. If I pay $75 to take a class, then I better get to talk to the teacher at least once.

I really LIKE online classes when I take them. Craftsy allows fast forwarding so that people who talk reeeeeallllllly sloooooowllllyyy and explain every.single.detail about threading a needle for the slow students can be zipped through and I can get on with the main part of the class. Or skip to something I don't know. It's great. Plus all my stuff is there.

I personally would like some actual critique and not just 'oh how nice' as the teacher moves to the next person. I'm not great on design, a bit hit and miss, but would like to get better. I can get 'Oh how nice' and no further input from my husband for a lot cheaper. If I'm paying a teacher, I'd like some teaching. That doesn't always happen (speaking generally of classes out in the world).

Also, if one has to fly, taking a Class from a Name at a Venue is a $2000 proposition and time off work. My husband and I like to take our own vacations, and I feel bad taking up a lot of our travel money on what is essentially one class for me.

So yeah, count me as one for online.

Leigh

Unknown said...

On-Line gets my vote. It is affordable, accessible, "redo-able". I have taken some of your classes multiple times. I never have to be embarrassed when my attempts seem inexperienced. There is time for ideas to percolate. Thank you for continuing to teach and share your viewpoints. I think my life is moving toward less drama and this will be a year for more class participation. I did finish one of my designs and am pleased with the result. I have and use the samples of tea dying I did in the "Dying to Quilt" class. Your book is a lovely adjunct to consult over and over not just one time through. Though not required and only rarely mentioned it offers much insight into processes that you teach. Thank you for your work. I hope you are able to continue for a very long time.

Lee said...

Which do I prefer? - that's hard. I've felt really motivated when I've found an online class that meets my need at just the right point where I am in development - it's just-in-time learning. Alternatively, an in-person class is fun because you get to see how others have interpreted the topic so you may get group synergy. However, you can also get group energy drain, depending upon the participants - boo!

Interestingly, an in-person class feels like an event because it is short-lived; an online class feels more like a process, because you have the time to stop and think and come back at the topic if you don't feel you've got it. I really like that time to cogitate(!) and put the learning in context of what I know so far. I feel fortunate to be able to match my learning need closely with an online class - at home, with all my supplies around me. And it's wonderful to have access to teachers who I might never meet in person otherwise.

Elizabeth Barton said...

what wonderful comments and insights from everyone...thank you for writing...I do like Lee's differentiation of the difference between an "event" and a "process". I think the same is true for the teacher too...I do particularly like the slow process of the yearlong masterclass where I can see real changes in style, compositional strengths and ability to communicate happening.
yes! I do hope to keep teaching online for a long time....most days (I won't say EVERY day because sometimes you think dammit they didn't read what I said!!!) most days I really look forward to what I'm going to find when I "open" up the class files.....

and yes $2000 is a pretty expensive vacation when you think about it!!!
Thank you everyone. Elizabeth

Lesley said...

Elizabeth, how do you keep in contact with your students during an online course? Is it by email, sharing pics on line? I am tempted by your Abstract design course about to start. Thanks.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Lesley, the classes I do for academy of quilting all have a "discussion forum" or "chatroom"...so you just post your question or comment and images too if you wish there in the forum....
the forum automatically sends me an email to say "somebody posted something!"...and I always check once a day in the morning, sometimes more than once if I can....

for my master class which I run myself, I have a "private" blog where the students in the class can post images and questions and comments...and I respond directly there.

So contact is pretty easy! especially today with wifi nearly everywhere...
do try out one of my classes! and let me know what you think....Elizabeth

Lesley said...

That’s good to know. Thanks Elizabeth. The course looks really interesting and something I would love to do. .unfortunately I don’t think I have sufficient free time over the next few weeks to do it justice. (I see it is starting now.).Plus I wont have access to any of my sewing things for about ten days during the course which I assume would be a problem?

Elizabeth Barton said...

The course is more about creating a lot of designs, so as long as you have pencil and paper you'd be okay.
Re the time involved...like everything the more you put into it, the more you get...However the Dean at AQ has come up with a new option...and that is sort of an "extended warranty"!! ie.. you can buy more time at the end....
I do have two abstract classes and they alternate so the other one would be up in 3 or 4 months....they both involve a lot of designing...but one focusses on female abstract artists as inspirations and gives a lot of information about them; the other one (More abstract art for quiltmakers) is about the history and development and different "schools" of abstract art.

Lesley said...

Elizabeth, do I have to decide now about the “extended warranty” or can I leave making the decision until I see how I have got on at the end of the initial teaching?

Elizabeth Barton said...

oh I think you can leave it to the end...but it's a new idea of the DEan's....so best to ask her:
dean@academyofquilting.com

Elizabeth

Lesley said...

Thank you Elizabeth, I have enrolled .