Photo by Glenn Cummings 

By Colin Belles

When Skagit Valley College moved to all online classes at the beginning of Covid19 the art department was able to adapt and help students when they needed it the most. The art department wanted to make sure that students had all the materials they needed for when the next quarter of classes started so they came up with a plan that followed all the rules and regulations. They did this by having the school’s library help create kits that students would be able to pick up curbside that include all the materials they may need during the class. When the state went into lockdown the kits that students would need were included when students signed up for the class to lessen the financial burden of having to spend more money on the needed materials. This could not last for long because the money for the kits were provided by the arts department’s funds. They are talking about future classes having two different kits, one that would have the basic needs for the class and have a second kit that is available for purchase that has better tools.

Having materials for the class is only one of the things that students need to be successful but, a good work ethic is needed too. Having classes online with deadlines that are set early it gives a great indicator for where students should be at in their projects and be on track for finishing them on time. More students online are being successful because they are staying on a schedule. Having a nice quiet place to work will help students complete work in a timely manner and not get distracted. Leaving your cell phone out of the room so that you do not get tempted to check notifications will make you more productive. Setting up specific times to work for a specified length and sticking to that schedule will also help with meeting deadlines.

The arts are also a good outlet for students that have not left their houses since the lockdown. Mary Iverson thinks that it is good for students who are taking art classes to get in touch with the real world again. Using something physical like painting gets students who have spent most of their time online a break. Iverson can appeal to all learning styles no matter if you are an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. Since her classes are online, she makes videos for her students to watch, and they can rematch parts that they may have missed as many times as needed. She puts a lot of effort into the videos that she makes for her students, she says that she sets up her phone right above her workspace, records the work and edits the videos with voiceover and time lapse. Students do not miss a single lecture with online classes with the videos being recorded and posted to canvas. In contrast to being in the class if a student misses one class they do not get the lecture that was given for that day.

Future classes have the potential to become even more instructive if professors take the things that worked well online and implement them into their in-person teachings. Iverson said that in the next quarter students that are taking a ceramics class are going to have the throwing wheels outside. Working on art outside is something that she thinks that might be able to stay when the college can open back up to all in person learning. Future classes will benefit from the experience that the professors and the college as a whole gain from online learning.

Art is something that helps brain development and stimulates thought, it is important now more than ever to do the mental exercise since students are spending most of their time at home on their electronic devices. In an article from Harvard Health, they talk about how art is good medicine “Decades of research have demonstrated that in people with dementia and other progressive neurological diseases, the ability to create art remains long after speech and language have diminished. Research has also shown that creating visual art can reduce stress and promote relaxation in people who are hospitalized or homebound due to illness.” Even if people who are stuck at home are not the sick ones, they are still homebound because they do not want to get Covid-19. ”Art opens the heart and mind to possibilities and fuels the imagination. Art is a process of learning to create ourselves and experience the world in new ways. Arts support the bigger picture view of life: beauty, symbols, spirituality, storytelling, it also helps us step out of time allowing one to be present in the moment. Art keeps the magic alive.” Art helps people to develop and helps people become more well-rounded individuals.