From In-Person to Online Learning 0

This semester appeared full of endless possibilities and new opportunities. Being a graduate student in my last semester, and a TA in Industrial Design, my life got busy as expected. Each day I would work on my thesis, teach sketching classes for products, and have meetings with my advisor, my committee, and the instructor in charge of the courses that I am teaching.

I managed my time well and kept everything under control in both my professional and personal life. In each of my classes, my students received assignments that helped them either learn or reinforce their drawing skills. I made sure there was a safe environment to create and share ideas between classmates and to get feedback on their creations and how to make them better. I knew the change to online classes was going to be hard. No one had any experience with online teaching, and less in my department of Arts & Design. The entire Spring Break was used by all of the staff and faculty to determine the best way of teaching online and the platforms to use, whereby we could most effectively reach the students.

The first two weeks of online classes were easy, for the most part, because they relied upon the instruction given inside the physical classroom and face-to-face, and that feeling of being “in class” was still there. But the way of creating and sharing content changed with the switch to online instruction. I found it necessary to develop detailed digital presentations to explain assignments and new subjects, using platforms that I have never used before and technology that is not always reliable. As a designer, I am creative, so I developed step-by-step videos and presentations for my students to help them understand the activities and better process the material, which they could revisit if they didn’t understand something. It has been challenging to use Purdue’s WebEx platform to share sketch ideas with the students, but it has helped maintain a beneficial interaction between classmates. And, of course, I took the additional step of making myself readily available and responsive to their emails, in the hope that the dependence on technology this semester will not interfere with the primary goal, which is making sure the students acquire the knowledge and skills they are taught.

It is nice to see that most of my students have made the transition in their minds (and work) from a “vacation” at home, to real distance learning. They have been working hard and applying themselves to their work, and that makes it worth all the effort. These times are difficult for all of us, but there are many good things to learn from this experience as well. This experience forced me to take an even more in-depth view from my students’ perspectives so I could be as flexible as they needed while they adapted to these changes that seemed so overwhelming. It has pushed me to do things that I never saw myself doing before and has helped me become a better teacher as a result. It takes heat and pressure to create a diamond, and I think we are all becoming gems.

Vina Lacerna’s final project for Class AD146, a product design and storyboard.
Janna Johns’ final project for Class AD146, a product design and storyboard.

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