That means finding out everything about the class. You should do the same for any class you’re planning to take. That way you won’t sign up and then later decide to drop the class. Besides that, you may regret that you didn’t sign up for another class that is no longer available.
Therefore, first read the syllabus if one is available. The syllabus will give you important information about the class, such as:
- instructor phone number and email
- assignment due dates
- class participation policies
- textbooks if any
- list of art supplies
- mandatory meetings on campus
Next, contact the instructor with questions you still have about the course. For instance, ask for the ISBN of the textbook, particularly if you plan to purchase the book somewhere other than at the campus bookstore. Ask if you can use an earlier edition of the textbook. You might be able to find one online that is much cheaper than the edition of the required text. I asked one of my teachers if I could use an earlier edition. He gave me permission, and I found the book for only $1 at a book sale.
However, you might need to buy a new textbook bundled with a study guide and access code for an art history course. Access codes allow students to view and complete coursework online. If you can use an older edition of the book, you will still need to buy the access code. Most likely you won’t need to do this for studio art courses. Nonetheless, studio art courses can be costly because you will need to buy art supplies and materials.
As far as the art supplies and materials are concerned, you can compare prices at the college where you plan to take the art course with the prices of online art vendors, such as Dick Blick.
After that, ask your instructor about mandatory meetings and exams. This is a good time to offer any excuses as to why can't attend on campus meetings or exams. The instructor may allow you to miss an orientation but not subsequent meetings. Find out if you will be required to attend any synchronous online meeting. This means that you'll need to attend an online meeting with the instructor and students at a particular time. You may even need to have a webcam and microphone to join in. If the instructor administers exams on campus, ask if you can take exams with a test proctor at your local college. I have done this many times. For instance, I took courses through Indiana University but took exams at De Anza College in California. You may even need to take an online proctored exam.
If you don’t already have the information, ask your instructor if you will need to scan any of your drawings and import them into your computer. So if you don’t already know how, learn how to perform these tasks. If you will be required to post images into your online course, you will also need to know how to resize your images. For instance, I needed to resize my images to 700 pixels at 72 pixels per inch (ppi) maximum for the length. Sometimes your instructor will ask you to mail your work. I had to mail my artwork for two classes: color and collage.
Before the first day of class, complete a tutorial to learn how to navigate the online course. You will use course management software, such as Blackboard or Etudes, to complete your assignments and contact the instructor and other students. Completing this tutorial has always been a requirement for starting an online class. It also gives you a chance to find out if there are any problems. And if you can't solve them yourself, contact technical support at the college. The tutorial will tell you about the Internet browser, computer operating system, and software you will need to download, as well as any plug-ins you will need for the class.
First Day of Class
Now you're ready to begin your class. To begin, the instructor may contact students through email or a discussion area to complete a tutorial on how to navigate the course. The discussion area is similar to an online forum. Your first assignment generally consists of introducing yourself to your classmates and telling them something about yourself and why you're taking the class.
If you haven't been able to view the syllabus before beginning the class, your instructor will provide you with a link so that you can read it or explain how to find it. It's important to read the syllabus carefully to learn what the teacher expects you to do in class. Your teacher will let you know what your reading, writing, and any drawing assignments will be and when they are due. The instructor will also let you know about exams. Your instructor may decide to mail exams or post them online. Online exams could be timed or untimed, proctored, open book, or closed book. Or you may not need to complete any exams. If your teacher doesn't give exams or quizzes, you will be graded on your assignments. Some examples of assignments are class participation, art work, essays, and student critiques.
Your instructor will also tell you whether you need to attach files or cut and paste them into the course area. By all means ask questions if you don't know something. Also, if you live near campus, ask if you can use the computer and software on campus.
Some art techniques don’t come easy. You will need to be persistent; your passion should carry you. When I took a design class, I needed to use Adobe Illustrator. The teacher answered all my questions when I had trouble learning various techniques.