Online art classes lead to creativity at WWU

Art classes have always meant spending long hours in front of
an easel or table, but Terry Martin, William Woods University professor of art,
noticed the public studio could be a bit intimidating for a beginning artist.

Martin said he enjoys working in his own studio and thought
students could also set up a home studio and benefit from the accessibility of
the space at home, much the same as he does.
 
This year, with the help of other faculty members, Martin
created two online art classes for traditional and nontraditional
students.  
 
William Woods alumna Rebecca Moppin, along with Dr. Roger
Wen, associate academic dean in charge of distance education, and Dr. Susan
Jones, assistant professor of education, worked closely with Martin to develop
Internet-based basic design and art appreciation courses. 
 
Martin felt the “creative team approach helped with the
quality” of the curricula. 
 
The online classes are laid out similarly to traditional art
courses. Martin uploads PowerPoint presentations that take the place of daily
lectures.  Assignments are posted, and
students are expected to upload digital images of their work, accompanied by
self-critiques. 
 
Students have the opportunity to comment on each other’s work
through forums, something that Martin sees as a major benefit to the online
class.
 
“For some reason, students are reluctant to critique in the
classroom.  They feel freer to type
online,” he said. 
 
Even though the classes take place solely on the Internet,
some of the students have come to Kemper Arts Center to show off their work,
ask for guidance and tour the art studios.
 
Martin came up with the idea to
create an online art class based on a dream. 
 
“I’ve always had a dream to teach students in a different
country,” he said.  “The fact that
students come from different backgrounds is helpful, and it is good to embrace
diversity.” 
 
He added, “Art is a universal language, not limited to a
particular area.  Creativity creates a
respect for values, beliefs and cultures of others.  This is enhanced by students seeing from as
many points of view as possible.” 
 
The idea also originated in a basic design assignment that
required students to upload photos to Facebook. 
 
Both the basic design and art appreciation
classes have received affirmative responses from students. 
 
The students are proactive, uploading digital images of their
final pieces, as well as pictures of their progression. 
 
“I am a creative coach more than a lecturer … and I let
students explore art in their own way,” Martin said.
 
He believes online classes are important to the future of
higher education, and students will eventually be able to earn their degrees by
taking courses from various schools to build the program of study of their
choosing.
 
Overall, Martin is certain he is headed in the right
direction.  Computers are becoming a
major creative tool, and art is becoming digital as technology quickly
progresses. 
 
“The assumption that the studio is
necessary to create is not the case,” he said. 
                                                           
CUTLINES:
Vase by Joslyn Holtmeyer of Marthasville, Mo.
Cat by Kaleena Kollmeier of Columbia, Mo.
Cat by Kristin Bailey of Columbia, Mo.
Cat by Missy Martin of Fulton, Mo.