In the light of the outbreak of COVID-19, every field of life has had to generate new methods to cope with drastic changes. The same goes for education field. In this article we focus on how these changes affected project CODE’s pilot course in Tartu Art School, a vocational school, and what kind of methods were applied in order to teach practical specialities which usually require physical presence.
When the emergency situation was declared in March, schools were among the first institutions that were shut down completely. The next question was how to move on from that. At the art school, the study sessions switched to online platforms that were already in use such as Google Meet, Google Classroom and Gmail. On one hand, many subjects are computer-based and can be performed simply from distance, but on the other hand there were subjects that required more creativity on how to teach them and give feedback. For example painting and sculpting.
During the past two months, CODE students at Tartu Art School have attended their graphic design course from home environment, using freeware Discord as the common working platform and having reflection meetings in Google Meet. They have designed stickers and scouted for inspiration in the city scene; designed constellation-themed illustrations; experimented with painting, using elements from realism, impressionism, expressionism and cubism; designed posters to present their favorite book at a mock presentation. Now, the students are working on a graphic design team-project as their final course-task. During the strictly homebound last couple of months, there have also been moments of motivation-loss, but working on a new project and having a clear goal in sight, lack of motivation is not an issue any more.
All in all it can be concluded that the first couple of weeks of distance learning were somewhat unsteady due to the situation never experienced before. Another challenge was keeping the students motivated throughout the period. However, in time and with proper effort, the new ways of studying and teaching became balanced and organic. Group meetings and reflection discussions with coaches in Google Meet were of vast help in maintaining enthusiasm and keeping the group together. Despite of the challenges and the unfortunate times, the outcome has been successful. As a common paradox, unexpected and unpleasant situations force us to move forward and to search for creative solutions. Perhaps it’s the prime time to have new perspectives and make some changes in the common routines in education.