AUdapting: Industrial Design Faculty Create Unique Remote Student Experience

Associate Professor Jerrod Windham and Assistant Professor Rusty Lay were faced this summer with the challenge of teaching students perspective drawing from a distance. Normally, students in Auburn’s industrial design program bond over long days in studio, but since some instruction is currently remote due to COVID-19, Windham and Lay decided to provide a unique student experience.

While teaching together over the summer semester, Windham and Lay were able to find various methods of instruction that helped their students to succeed. This included utilizing overhead camera angles that allowed both students and faculty to better see drawings in real time. Based on that experience, Windham says that one of the first things he had his students do for fall studio was to build a simple mobile device stand to support the camera function directly over their work. In his fall studio, Lay plays songs from a carefully curated playlist of soothing electronica background music. Whether instruction is in person or remote, students in this drawing class pass the hours drawing and discussing the music and the assignments.

For the summer course, Windham and Lay also decided to create a workbook that could be utilized either in person or remotely. Each page has detailed assignments and instructions on the foundations of drawing. While it was useful for the summer semester, it is also meant to be a reference book for students to use throughout their academic careers. Windham says that the workbook helped students to manage their time and effort better than in the past. “A very large drawing might take an hour, but they learned key concepts through this workbook that might have taken them just 20 minutes.”

Both Windham and Lay believe that the quality of student work has become more consistent since remote instruction began. Through online instruction, students can see video demonstrations on their own device screens more clearly than they would in a classroom, and they are also able to start and stop the videos so that their attention is not divided between comprehending the instruction and completing the assignment. “We are using some of what we learned through remote teaching this summer,” said Windham, “regardless of whether we’re in the studio or not.”

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Jerrod Windham, Rusty Lay