Ana Stankovic-Fitzgerald (Fashion Illustration and Fashion Drawing Tutor, LCF) teaches fashion illustration and fashion drawing to students in a studio environment. Now, via intelligent use of web based communications and elearning tools she also teaches students based all around the world and who she has not met in person.
Ana’s initial challenge was to devise and deliver an inspiring interactive 10 week pilot online course in fashion illustration to a small number of students (6-8) of which the majority were based outside of the UK – in countries including Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and South Korea.
As this was a pilot course it employed a variety of tools and methods in order to determine the most appropriate and effective mix for future courses. These included:
- the production of short demonstration videos made available via YouTube
- the development of a considerable amount of constantly updated high quality visual content and useful links placed on a Wiki with which participants could interact
- online classroom communications initially established and developed using Skype
- testing of ‘Virtual Classroom’ – leading to its adoption as a core element of the course
Bb Collaborate became used extensively in this course in the following ways:
- as the key live method of communication between tutor and students and between students themselves – making use of audio, video and online messaging.
- as an effective presentation tool, making use of facilities such as the eBoard for visual collaborative learning
- as a teaching and learning tool for the use of software such as PowerPoint and (in particular) Kaledo Style using App Share.
Ana makes several observations, including that:
- teaching online does not present the same immediate opportunities to assess the students at the start of the course as teaching in a studio.
- students enrolling for an online short course often have a different profile to those enrolling in a studio based course.
- ongoing problems in accessing and using Virtual Classroom were encountered
- students can be less forthcoming with their work than they would be in a studio.
- the blend of live online interaction via Virtual Classroom, plus use of the Virtual Classroom archives, the Wiki and the YouTube video materials enabled students to grow in confidence and some produced extremely high quality work.
- students enjoyed the online interaction with the tutor and their colleagues.
- the online course enlivened the studio delivered courses and vice versa.
Ana’s tips for success:
- Get as much information as possible about the online students before they start!
- You need a Plan B for when connections become unavailable.
- You need to take time at the start of the course to train students in the use of Bb Collaborate.
- Be aware of students’ IT skills – for example some have difficulty in submitting work in the correct format.
- Experiment – and remain calm when technology appears unreliable.
The pilot course proved successful and very popular with participating students and has since re-run on a regular basis. Inspired by this, additional online short courses have also been planned and successfully delivered.
Ana Stankovic-Fitzgerald’s further observations and feedback were obtained via an interview conducted via Virtual Classroomand can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAB4B1B915766D6A6
Students took the opportunity to provide additional feedback in written and oral form. Some of their comments are included below:
- “Taking the course online was a good experience – even though we did not meet physically we were able to speak and see each other using Wimba and the three hour class once a week was a good fit for my schedule.”
- “I enjoyed taking fashion illustration as an e-learning course and would take another course online in the future”.
- “Online tools have helped to communicate with the tutor and other students. We could see the work of each other in the Wimba Classroom and chat. The possibility to upload our work into the Wiki was also very helpful”.
- “It was a lovely course and a wonderful experience. I learned a lot while doing this course and I believe this learning will help me a lot in future – thanks.”
- LCF – http://www.fashion.arts.ac.uk/
- LCF short courses – http://www.fashion.arts.ac.uk/courses/shortcourses.htm
- Kaledo Style – http://www.lectra.com/binaries/Kaledo_Style_product-datasheet_tcm31-128012.pdf
- Virtual Classroom- http://www.blackboard.com/ – Bb Collaborate