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Experimental communication: Digital COVID-19 classrooms

When COVID-19 lockdowns shutdown CDU campus life, visual arts students lost the face-to-face, communal and tactile experiences of learning and making together.

No longer able to receive the kind of instant feedback that is so generative when learning new skills for creative thinking and production, the risk was that students may disengage from the course.

Creative strategies needed to be employed to encourage engagement and maintain a sense of community during this time of isolation.

My own creative practice includes performance and video collage, this seemed like a great opportunity to allow some cross pollination between lecture development and my own art. The idea was to invoke visual language to create lectures that could double as examples of what the lectures were about.

The following examples not only introduce their concepts, they also are demonstrations of those concepts.

In this video, collage is described by a talking digital collage:

In this brief introduction, surrealism is described through surrealist video art:

COVID-19 has demanded creative responsiveness that I feel could be further developed through the kind of experimentation that these videos are a rough and early prototype of. Feedback in terms of engagement was positive from students and flowed through to their own creative responses to class exercises.

Interestingly, the need to innovate on the run highlighted some of the gaps and inequities that were baked into the business as usual approach to our shared internal/external creative arts classes. With internal classes resuming for the time being, we have continued to produce video content so that both internal and external students have equitable access to the same content at the same quality. Classes have become screenings where both internal and external students watch and discuss the video content together.

Personally, it has also allowed for experimentation and skill development within my own work.

Written by Matthew van Roden

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