When Carol Miller, Dean of quiltuniversity.com first contacted me a couple of years ago about teaching an online class I must admit I thought oh that would be boring! I’d never get to meet the people or travel to the places. I wouldn’t be able to judge exactly how to respond by how a person presented themselves and their questions, I certainly wouldn’t be able to assess the strengths and difficulties of a proposed design. and sitting at the computer to write 4 lessons of 10-20 pages each would be deadly! Plus my awful jokes look even lamer on paper than they do in real life peg legging their way around the classroom.
Well I was totally wrong. it’s amazing how well you can get to know someone virtually, their words and their phrasing, their manner of presenting their questions definitely convey a sense of the person. The designs, value sketches, color choices, fabric mock-ups and finished quilts all speak very loudly. And it’s so much fun firing up the computer in the morning and having conversations with people all over the world. While most students are in English speaking countries, I’ve had people in class from every continent (except Antarctica – please sign up next time!), all the European countries, most South American ones, Africa, the Far East and several places I’ve had to look up on the map.
And online classes are so much more egalitarian; let’s face it you do need a substantial income to attend an actual workshop even if you seek out the most economical way, sleeping in a 12 bed dorm room with 11 people snoring, 10 people going to the bathroom at 4 am, 9 people talking in their sleep, 8 people setting off early alarms, 7 people having exciting dreams (“Yes, oh yes”….or “No, No No!”), 6 people farting, 5 people forgetting to switch off phones, 4 people singing (or rather crowing!) at dawn, 3 people arguing together, 2 people cooing and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh yes, I’ve been there. Actually the last dorm room like that I slept in had no air conditioning and all the heavy breathing led to so much condensation the walls and windows were streaming!! ah, the joys of economical living. But an online class costs little more than a new quilting book, you’ll get just as many pictures, lots of chat from other students and one on one questions with the author. Now how many authors of actual books can you email with a question?
Another positive of online classes is that you don’t feel like you must make a quilt or quilts to justify having taken the class. I’ve heard people leave workshops from major seminars and conferences saying “my thousand dollar quilt” holding up some tiny piece! Actually these days probably nearer a two thousand dollar quilt. With an online class you can do as much or as little as you feel like and not feel guilty at all!! Definitely Innocent till proven guilty.
I’ve heard people criticize online classes in general but I can only think that they haven’t actually taken one. As well as being much much less expensive, you don’t have to worry about lugging equipment, tusselling with traffic, parking and the security people, eating food you don’t like etc. All the many negatives of travel these days.
Of course there are cons: I think the biggest one for the student is actually time management. It’s hard when you’re at home and surrounded by all the Usual Suspects and Chores to give yourself time to take a course. But I think if you say: “I’m going to dedicate these 2 specific hours each day to it” that would work. The con for me is that I don’t get to visit places I’ve not been before. But next year I have gigs in a couple of places I’ve not visited, and I’m still hoping for an invitation from coastal Maine (in summer!), from British Columbia, or the Maritimes in Canada, and from Hawaii!! You never know!
I’ve just finished teaching two online classes: Inspired to Design, and Working in Series and each of these is going to start up again soon (see sidebar for details). Inspired to Design covers all the basic steps of designing a strong composition, from the first inspiration, through to the final quilting. It is best to take this class first. Working in Series is for people who are fairly confident in their ability to pull a design together but want to find their own voice, develop a strong artistic identity and a sense of direction and purpose. This class also addresses some advanced concerns in composition and design in a Master Class approach.
People tell me that as well as the lessons and the ability to see the work of many other students in the class, they really appreciate the individual critiques I give at every stage of the process. They like it that I’m not too warm and fuzzy!! Well, I reckon, most people want honesty and those that don’t can’t hit me over the head when they’re hundreds if not thousands of miles away!! Another distinct advantage to the virtual classroom!
So, if you have been, thanks for reading! and if you can’t take an actual class, think about a virtual one.
PS If the classes are already closed or full, don't worry - they'll be offered again in a month or so. I'll put them up on the side bar when the dates are known. Thank you!