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Teaching & Learning Art Online: For Teachers

Put yourself on video

I know that a lot of teachers are not used to being on camera.  So many of us are self-conscious about our looks and just don’t feel comfortable being on video.

Yes, video will be awkward at first

However, after a few sessions you’ll realize that none of that stuff matters, and you’ll get used to it.  You’ll discover quickly that your students really absolutely do not care about the wrinkles in your neck, or what your hair looks like.   

Like any new skill you learn, you’ll be frustrated at first, but your students are well aware of the special circumstances of this situation and they will be understanding of you ironing out the wrinkles for a little while.

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Students want a personal connection

What students DO care about is maintaining a personal connection to you, and video is the format that gives you the best shot at preserving that connection. Consider how abrupt the transition is from spending time with you in person in a classroom to becoming a series of typed comments and emails.

You already have an established relationship with your students from being with them in the classroom, so take advantage of that. Video is the absolute closest version communicating with your students that you’re going to get when teaching remotely, in my opinion, it would be a mistake to not use it. 

Emails lack the nuances of your voice and face

I send as few emails as possible to my brick and mortar classes because I know that the potential for misinterpretation in an email is great.

When I do send emails, I keep them very factual and information based, I don’t make comments on a student’s progress, or any topic that is based on opinion.

If you can put aside how you feel about what your nose looks like, being on video is a tremendous difference for your students. In my opinion, that’s a very small price to pay for what is probably going to have a positive impact on your students. 

Typing out a critique or comment can be very slow

I find typing a critique to be excruciatingly slow.  I get picky about my word choices and end up needing to go back and revise what I write multiple times. Before I know it, I’ve spend 90 minutes writing half a page of critique.

Not only will typing a critique take me three times longer to do, but I will not get out remotely as much information to the studio compared to when I speak a critique.

Your students’ writing skills will vary greatly

For a lot of students, if you ask them to type a critique,  this may be the first time that their writing skills were ever on display in the context of a studio art class.

You’ll have to remember that writing can be a struggle for some students as well and be prepared to offer editorial assistance to them as needed.

Don’t bother with producing videos that require editing

For many years at Art Prof, I was very concerned a out maintaining extremely high quality video production. I shot all of our video tutorials and discussion videos on a DSLR camera, on a set with professional lights, sound equipment, and everything.

I scripted everything to death, planned out ever piece of information I wanted to cover and wrote endless pages of what to discuss. The post production was really time intensive: I had to edit the footage in Adobe Premiere, drop in stills, add text, do a sound mix, and more.

An 8 minute discussion video could take me a few weeks to finish on top of all my other teaching commitments.

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Students don’t care about high quality video production

I quickly discovered that actually, students today (and pretty much everyone under the age of 40) could care less about high video production quality.

High video production quality can even work against you!

I always assumed that high video production quality was a good thing and that a shaky video shot on a phone with crappy lighting and bad focus was always bad.

Not so; the younger generation sometimes sees the phone video as much more “intimate” and “personal” than a video with high production quality, which is some cases is seen as “aloof” and “cold.”(Yup, I don’t understand either, but that’s their mindset)

Art Prof, YouTube live video

Live video is fast and easy

While it does take time to get a good set up going to do live video, but once it’s up and running and you have a system in place, it’s just a matter of clicking “start streaming” and talking.

Once I realized that I could behave on a live stream the exact same way that I behave in a brick and mortar classroom, not only was it less work, but it was much closer to what I’m actually like in the classroom.

Scripts aren’t necessary

Instead of adhering to a detailed script that just made me freeze up, I just made stuff up as I thought of it, exactly as I do when I’m in a classroom. The most preparation I do now is a few bullet points of topics I want to hit.

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Live video lets you interact with students in real time

On both YouTube Live and Instagram Live, people who watch the stream live are able to type comments and ask you questions in the chat. While you give the lecture, you can pause any time it’s convenient for you to read questions from the chat and answer them.

You can “take attendance” with a live video

This opportunity to interact with your students while you are on live video is incredibly useful. Since the usernames show up in the chat when someone comments, you can ask the students to watch the video live, and comment say twice so you can see which students watched live.

Make sure you have students tell you what their usernames are in advance of the live stream so you can identify them as most do not use their real names.

Instagram Live Video

The big advantage of Instagram live video is that it requires literally no set up.  (see image on the left) Hit the “live” button in the Instagram Stories area and you’ll be streaming!

If you don’t want your Instagram live video to be public, you’ll need a private Instagram account, and allow your students to follow that private account. Then when you stream live, only your students can watch the video.

There are no options to add images, graphics, or text to an Instagram live video, so an Instagram live video can only show whatever your phone happens to be pointing at.

Instagram live videos disappear after 24 hours.

If you don’t want the video to disappear, add the live video to your Instagram Highlights, which will make that live video accessible for as long as you want.

Deepti Menon, Filmmaker & Animator

YouTube Live Video

YouTube live video requires more set up than Instagram live. The process is more time consuming, but ultimately you’ll have many more options you can add to make your live videos more versatile

Open Broadcasting Software (OBS)

You’ll need to download streaming software like OBS Studio, (OBS is free) and input your YouTube channel’s API key into OBS to connect OBS to your YouTube channel.

In OBS, you can add images, video, website links, add graphics, control the layout, anything you want to enhance your video. By comparison, Instagram live video will only show on screen whatever your phone happens to be pointing at.

YouTube live videos can be streamed privately or publicly

You can set your YouTube live stream to public, or if you only want your students to see the video, you can set your live stream to “unlisted” or “private” before you begin to stream.  Whatever privacy setting you choose, you can send the link to the video to the students later to watch.

YouTube live videos can be available after you stream live

After a live YouTube video ends, the video will take about an hour or so to process, and then the video will show up on your YouTube channel. You have the option to change the private settings so that the video is public, private, unlisted, or to delete it.

“Unlisted” videos on YouTube

In general, making a video “unlisted” as opposed to deleting it is a better option in case you change your mind later. An “unlisted” YouTube video will not show up in searches, will not show up on your channel, but anyone who has the specific video URL can view the video.

The chat in a live video is always visible after the video processes, so you can always go back and see which students were watching live.

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Audio recordings are the next best option after video

Audio quality matters more than video quality

Audio Recording

TIP #2

15:21   Send reminders for group video calls
17:33   You’ll need to do more than usual to teach online
18:19   Set a deadline with a specific time
19:29   Choose the specific time for a deadline carefully
20:56   Ask your students about what is going to work for them
20:04   Check in with your students and ask how they are doing
22:26   Fri night deadlines are tough for students who have jobs

TIP #3

23:18   Students are on Instagram & YouTube daily
25:40   Purchase a portfolio critique
27:57   Create your own hashtag, like #proflieu
30:30  How to critique art online 

TIP #4

30:52   Students don’t check their email
32:17   Instagram direct messages
34:42  Prof Lieu‘s “office hours” on YouTube live
36:26  Art School Portfolios Playlist
36:43  Complete Art School Portfolios Guide
36:56  Limit video calls to 4-6 students

TIP #5

38:53   Accommodate your students
41:08   Character design tutorial
41:57   Chipboard sculpture tutorial
42:12   Substitutions for art supplies
45:03  Being frugal with art supplies


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