“Whether you’re a parent, whether you’re [sic] a student, a school administrator, a teacher, support staff, whatever you are, it’s just been a weird time. And sort of like, when we were all doing the distance learning model, and everybody kind of got zoom exhaustion,” said Ethan Norof, former director of communications in an independent public charter high school in Los Angeles, California, during his appearance in the School Success Podcast on April 11, 2022.
Performing and multimedia arts high schools offer students a unique learning experience combining artistic creativity and technical skill development.
However, this type of education heavily relies on in-person collaboration and interaction, which has made the transition to distance learning during the pandemic difficult.
In this article, we will explore the challenges faced by performing and multimedia arts high schools in adapting to distance learning, as well as some innovative solutions and practical tips for overcoming these challenges.
The Limitations of Distance Learning
The sudden shift to distance learning has highlighted the challenges of teaching and learning the arts in a digital environment.
Many art forms, such as dance, theater, and music, rely heavily on physical proximity and real-time feedback between performers. Without this, it can be difficult for students to develop the necessary skills and techniques to excel in their chosen art form.
Additionally, technical skills such as computer programming or robotics require hands-on experience and specialized equipment, which can be difficult to replicate in a distance learning environment. This can make it challenging for students to develop their skills to succeed in these fields.
According to Norof, the distance learning model was challenging for their school. Their students’ different home equity situations brought about a disparity in dance spaces, internet capacity, and even the number of people sharing the same space.
This was incredibly challenging for a school that prides itself on cultivating a strong sense of community among its students. School, as stated by Norof, should be a fun and meaningful experience for students, not something they feel burned out by.
Despite these challenges, performing and multimedia arts high schools have found innovative solutions to adapt to distance learning during the pandemic.
One such solution is the use of virtual performance platforms. By leveraging technologies such as Zoom and Google Meet, students can collaborate and perform in real time, even when they are not in the same physical location.
Another solution is using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. These technologies allow students to explore virtual worlds and perform in simulated environments, providing a more immersive and engaging learning experience.
Finally, many performing and multimedia arts high schools have turned to social media and online platforms to showcase their work and connect with audiences. By sharing their performances and creations on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, students can reach a wider audience and receive feedback and recognition for their work.
Overcoming the Challenges
While these solutions can be effective, challenges must be overcome to ensure a successful distance-learning experience for performing and multimedia arts students during the pandemic.
Here are some practical tips for overcoming these challenges:
1. Utilize Virtual Tools and Resources: A wealth of virtual tools and resources are available to help students learn and collaborate remotely. From online tutorials and training programs to virtual reality platforms and remote-access software, there are many ways to replicate the in-person learning experience in a digital environment.
2. Develop New Approaches to Teaching Technical Skills: While hands-on experience is important for developing technical skills, there are ways to adapt these lessons to a distance learning environment during the pandemic. For example, teachers can provide virtual demonstrations and simulations or create instructional videos and tutorials to help students learn at their own pace.
3. Foster a Sense of Community and Connection: One of the biggest challenges of distance learning during the pandemic is the sense of isolation that students may feel. Teachers should prioritize building community and connection among their students to combat this. This can be done through virtual meetups and social events or by creating online forums and discussion boards where students can connect and collaborate.
During the pandemic, distance learning has been a challenging but transformative experience for performing and multimedia arts high schools. From adapting to virtual tools to finding new ways to teach technical skills, educators have risen to the challenge and provided quality education to their students.
Though the effects of the pandemic have waned, it is important to remember our educators’ and students’ resilience and innovation and to continue exploring creative solutions to ensure a comprehensive education in any environment.
As you reflect on the challenges and solutions presented in this article, we invite you to share your experiences and insights. What have been some of the biggest hurdles and successes in your distance learning journey? And how can we continue to improve and innovate in the face of uncertainty?
If you’re interested in learning about other educational topics, check out our blog at the School Success Makers. With various informative and engaging articles, we’re dedicated to helping educators and students succeed in any learning environment.