Fullerton College Fine Arts faculty have hope for the future of arts education through hybrid learning and continue to reflect on the challenges and lessons learned from two-and-a-half semesters of distance learning.
While most professors agreed that Zoom classes could never fully replicate the experience of singing in a choir, acting with a cast, or sculpting in a classroom, the artwork produced far exceeded their expectations.
“The students rose up to the challenge considering where they were working at home, on what surfaces they’re working on and what technology they were using. They were still able to produce some amazing, stunning artworks,” said Carl “Klutch” Stanaway, professor of sculpture and 3-D artwork.
On one hand, the move to distance education created a more balanced environment for Fullerton College students whose class schedules conflicted with work or childcare. Stanaway noted that there are now thousands of hours of recorded arts instruction available as a resource thanks to distance learning.
On the other hand, lack of internet access, poor technology and the absence of privacy within crowded homes were listed as barriers to student success.
“There are some students who are stuck at home in abusive situations that they are trapped in, and I don’t know how much more protected they are from COVID by being at home as opposed to on a safe, regulated, mitigated campus with masking,” said Nicola Dedmon, director of choral studies.
Michael Mueller, professor of acting, performance and theater made note of the difficulties his students have performing vocal warmups at 8 a.m. For students who live inside crowded homes or apartments with noise regulations, performing and practicing comfortably became a challenge.
The dean of Fine Arts John Tebay said that the arts department can not survive without some in-person instruction. Thus, Fullerton College made the decision to allow some classes to return in-person this semester.
Stanaway’s cast metal class was one of two classes in the art department to return in-person with promising, albeit still limiting, results. The six feet distance requirement made it difficult to provide students with the hands-on learning needed when working with small pieces that call for attention to detail.
Temperature checks and self-assessment forms are required daily on campus and those allowed to attend class wore ribbons to indicate they were screened.
Tebay said that the administration is currently planning to be in-person for the fall semester and that no one will be required to come to campus if they do not feel safe.
While the future of COVID-19 remains uncertain, faculty members expressed confidence in the department’s ability to endure future shutdowns.
Art History Professor Kristin Mihaylovich said, “Not only as faculty have we become more adaptable, but this generation of learners will come to be more adaptable, more flexible, probably more resilient as well.”