I’ve come to realize that even in the midst of continuing Groundhog Day, time is finite. If I’m lucky enough for my maternal genes to call the shots, I’m only a a decade or so past life’s halfway mark. If my paternal genes are dominant, I’m already on borrowed time.
For light summer reading [she wrote sarcastically] I read Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. It was both validating…and a wake-up call.
So what do I spend most of my meaningful time doing?
Well, it’s split between painting and recording many (many, many, many) hours of demos and course materials for my upcoming Eastern Repousse Rings & Cuffs class—with great swaths of life and logistics slashing through my days uninvited.
I’m not convinced this is what Burkeman meant when he discussed meaning at length, but I do know three things:
- I’m recording this pioneering work of mine for posterity.
- The new flipped learning method I’ve implemented for all my online courses is working brilliantly.
- Life will continue interrupting until it doesn’t.
When I first pivoted to online courses, I knew I needed to record all my demos if students were to have any hope of seeing the necessary details of my processes. While it may work for others to demo live online, there would be far too much down time spent switching cameras and adjusting lighting, with fuzzy, pixelish zoom focusing for me to teach effectively.
It worked great for everyone…except for me.
My students loved the demos and consistently gave me very positive feedback about their clarity in both the visual sense and the technical explanations. In fact, there weren’t many questions because I had front loaded everything they’d need to know. Their questions didn’t come until after they had had a chance to try the processes and projects. Occasionally, I would answer a question with a live demo, but it was often more effective to for me to provide an explanation over a slow-motion replay or frame-by-frame of a previously recorded demo.
The down side for students was that, though they did advance exponentially compared to the days of in-person workshops and teaching, they tended to trail off during the second half of their projects because the pace of the courses and the work time in between didn’t always fit their needs.
As someone who loves seeing people make leaps and bounds with what I teach them, this was a little frustrating.
The other problem was that I spent 3/4 of the in-class time watching other people watch me demo. It felt weird at first, like was playing DJ (or VJ, to confirm my place as part of the original MTV generation) to my own technical, video self portraits. I began to appreciate, even more than in the in-person days, people who smiled and laughed at my jokes.
I thought the weird feeling would go away, but it never did. I either needlessly freaked out that I’d forgotten to include info that I was about to hear myself say 2 minutes later, or I self-critiqued my slight Southern accent (as if I hadn’t already done that in the countless hours of editing said videos).
As I took professional development and drawing and painting courses, I noticed that much of the rest of the online educational world had embraced a different model—and I began to wonder if it would work for jewelry and metalsmithing classes.
The wild, groundbreaking way I’m now teaching metalsmithing is to flip things around.
Students gain access to the first demos as soon as the course opens. They watch these on their own time, in their own studios, while they work at their own pace, and can pause, replay, or stop as needed. Students have the freedom to set their own pace for how much information they can take in at any one time.
The live sessions are spaced with more work time in between, and are dedicated to coaching and Q&A. Now, instead of people frantically trying to guess what they might have problems with and ask in advance, they can ask based on their experiences of what worked or what was difficult.
I’ve even set up a functional, non-social-media platform for questions between sessions, so there is less waiting.
The most exciting thing that happens? Instead of watching people watch me… I get to witness students learn from each other, generate incredible ideas, and formulate new possibilities for themselves and for each other.
It’s a whole new level in leveling up.
And my slight Southern accent? All demo videos and live sessions are now automatically captioned.
Eastern Repousse II: Rings & Cuff Bracelets