Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Second Day Noodle: learning. art. online.

Here's a continuation of some thoughts about art and the technology. Should art be taught online? Should a BFA or MFA be earned online?

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

I ask these questions because a college with which I am well acquainted, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, has gone digital. There are mixed views about the college's new direction, and the questions with which I started the post have been bouncing around the Northern Colorado art community.

When the school decided to go digital, it required that professors teach online courses...like sculpture, photography, and drawing, as well as traditional classroom studio courses, culminating in ten or more courses a year taught by each faculty member. Some of my friends, who were long term professors at the college, resigned or were ousted when they expressed concern over the new course load and the effectiveness of online teaching for a fine arts degree.


In"An Uncertain Future at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design", Ryan Nee, a graduate of RMCAD, wrote some excellent thoughts about the positives and negatives of online learning.

I see value in, and am a big supporter of, the communal nature of information sharing and learning that is part of culture of internet use. But, I do believe learning with others who are physically in the same room offers so much more potential.

No, I do not believe that fine arts degrees should be earned online. First of all, I would be personally insulted. It would demean the value of my degree, which I earned learning through the enriching, communal mind of artists working together. And second, there is so much more in learning and teaching that is influenced by body language, syntax, and the unexpected happenings that occur when people are in close proximity.

Here's a thought. Should a doctor be able to earn his or her medical degree online?

I will now set off my soap box and invite you to please, please, please share your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine just sent me some thoughts about online learning. It seems I was mistaken about RMCAD offering online sculpture classes and Fine Arts degrees. What she wrote here starts what I wanted to accomplish...creating a discussion and sharing ideas.

    Hi Kate

    In reference to RMCAD they do not offer Fine Art Degrees online nor are any of the sculpture or ceramic classes offered online. Here is a link to the online programs at RMCAD. http://www.rmcad.edu/online-learning

    I agree some people learn better face to face and there is something nice about connecting with people you physically see everyday. However some people may not be able to peruse this more traditional notion of education. For example what if they can't move across the country to a bigger city or their spouses job has them constantly moving (military families). Some of my students have already been establishing themselves in their hometown and have good jobs they need to keep to pay for tuition. Some have family members that need them to stay close.

    Learning online may not be ideal for all of us but its working for many. I used to not like the idea of the low residency MFA programs and felt like the students missed out on the experiences I had getting my MFA. I got defensive about all the time and sacrifices I made to attend grad school. But for some artists leaving their home for 2 to 3 years is impossible. They have children or other commitments. Why can't we have multiple systems and avenues to peruse these degrees? Why not blend the traditional with the new? Some educators think undergraduates should have to present a portfolio to enroll in the art program. I think that is unfair and pushes away many potential artists and art lovers. I didn't have a portfolio and seem to be doing okay for myself.

    I understand the points you bring up in your blog post and there is a lot to add to this conversation. For me its about letting go of tradition and opening up my mind to new ways of learning as well as understanding the culture we live in today. We live in a global world that exist because of technology and the ability to be virtually anywhere. Finally its about understanding what worked for myself and my education may not work for everyone and knowing that with change comes growth and sometimes there are some rough growing pains along the way. Getting an MFA online or low residency may be different the MFA program I went through but it doesn't mean it can't be done and that it isn't as valid.

    As for being a doctor I'm sure some doctors have taking online classes while in med school but working on humans and cadavers requires a lab. I"m sure there is some sort of law or system in place that doesn't allow someone to have a cadaver in there apartment or condo. Lucky for us using a Kiln, welder, or a paint in our residential homes is not illegal. Also artists make life better while doctors save lives. Two very different fields with different practices should not have the same educational requirements or methods of learning.

    She wrote something that really sticks with me..."Why can't we have multiple systems and avenues to peruse these degrees?" Everyone learns differently and we don't all fit in the same box, so why should education be limited to one method. Totally agree with that...I just wonder if some things are better learned by all in person.
    Thanks for the info and your thoughts!

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