A snapshot of remote learning in Art and Design

The COVID–19 pandemic has forced what many thought would never happen in secondary education: online courses extensively replacing traditional face-to-face teaching. But with challenge comes the opportunity to embrace change.

Art and Design at Carey has adapted to the challenge of keeping our students active learners during what could have become a very passive learning environment without the motivation of teachers and peers. Through the dynamic learning platform of Canvas, our Art and Design students have proven the remote learning environment can be active, creative and flexible. Here is a snapshot of some of the learning that took place over the Term 2 lockdown.

Food Studies classes were adapted to highlight these days of social isolation and global uncertainty, and the increased focus on food security and sustainability. The students learnt about the benefits of locally grown produce and supporting local food outlets, foods for immunity, the preparation of healthy and nutritious meals using limited supplies, making use of what you have, and avoiding an over-reliance on convenience foods. They demonstrated their knowledge through blogs, instructional videos and recipe cards and students put their knowledge and skills into action to produce food and meals for their families at home. Many noted, within their reflections, that sitting down with their families after serving them a nutritious meal they had planned and made was a highlight of their learning at home experience.

Our Media students focussed on isolation as an overall theme, and the VCE and Year 10 courses produced their own topical short documentaries during remote learning period. In years to come, these important short films will provide great insight into life and ideology which COVID–19 brought to our lives. Other classes made music videos which brought small groups together online, including one example of a Carey student in Melbourne collaborating with another student in Japan.

Short film poster by Amelia, Year 11

The pandemic has forced us all to evaluate how we operate, and there have certainly been benefits to remote learning for the Product Design and Technology students. Working both on and off campus inspired new modes of operation. Students navigated computer aided drawing software and sent the files to school to be processed. Laser Cutters, 3D printers and CNC machines operated during and outside of school hours to process students’ creative componentry and prototypes.

Examples of Product Design and Technology student works

Visual Communication Design students worked remotely using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop which benefitted their ability to design and create remotely. Students were able to use Photoshop to colour and crop their images before using Illustrator to manipulate type and use the drawing tools. They designed logos, studied the history of design and created phone and tablet covers using design elements and principles.

Fashion and Textiles students extended their learning remotely with the arrival of a personalised material kit that enabled students to still create products at home while giving them a break from their screens. They explored the practice of slow stitching, organic food wraps, macramé and a ceramic and stitch quilt project. They were also introduced to sustainable practices in the fashion industry and experienced a virtual exhibition of Collecting Comme at the NGV.

Middle School Art students took a virtual gallery tour of the KAWS exhibition at the NGV. Students learned about KAWS, the concept behind his artwork and why he has become an internationally famous artist. Students then created KAWS-inspired artworks by developing characters for letters of the alphabet. These letters then formed our focus word for the day – Courage (feature image).

The Middle School Art students were also able to embrace the unexpected arrival of online learning with a series of creative challenges working with both traditional and non-traditional art materials. An example of this was the Creative Colour Wheel Treasure Hunt, where students explored their home environments and, using found objects, created their own colour wheels. The results were highly inventive and proved that inspiration for art can be found anywhere!

The Artist in Residence program seamlessly transferred to virtual sessions for our Senior School Art students. Through Canvas, students followed weekly instructional video tutorials by their teachers and our Artist in Residence, covering the important aesthetic, compositional and thematic aspects of their work. Year 11 virtual Artist in Residence, Tony Lloyd, provided students with a professional ‘studio’ environment through his technique sessions and his approach to the painting of an object. Students in found they were able to engage deeper with the pre-recorded content, because they could learn at their own speed. The Year 12 students commented on the hybrid nature of contemporary art practice and their independence during the remote learning program.

By creating a sustainable Art and Design program, we can help our students embrace new opportunities and the challenges we all face in a remote learning environment. Creativity and innovation is the cornerstone of embracing change and its challenges, and the future needs creative thinkers and resilient designers and artists to analyse and adapt. This year has been an opportunity for our students to develop those skills and become those thinkers, designers and artists.

Simon Carver
Leader of Learning – Art and Design

Feature image: Collaborative Middle School artwork in the style of KAWS.

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