AUdapting: Industrial Design Professor Creates Distance Learning Studio
Christopher Arnold, associate professor of industrial design at Auburn, began working this spring to adapt his instructional methods for summer studio, which he would be teaching remotely. His strategy was to create a fully equipped remote learning production studio in Wallace Hall, the home of the School of Industrial and Graphic Design.
Summer semester is a vital part of the industrial design program. After spending many hours mastering the foundations of design, at the end of the summer pre-professional students will apply to the professional program. During the summer, students learn technical drawing, perspective theory and presentation rendering, all of which involve drawing by hand. Arnold knew that being able to effectively demonstrate drawing and drafting skills to his students would be key in providing them with the high quality instruction they would need to move forward.
He began work on his remote learning production studio by setting up multiple cameras, professional lighting and a switcher, a piece of broadcast equipment he uses to switch between the cameras and whatever he’s running from his laptop. Showing considerable resourcefulness, he also downloaded graphics software utilized by online video game players and printed the large green screen that he would need for projecting purposes.
Although teaching design studio remotely can be a challenge, Arnold has found that the current set-up has advantages. For example, he can toggle between a drawing assignment on Canvas and an illustration on a PowerPoint slide, and he can simultaneously use the overhead camera to show how he does the drawing himself. The multiple camera angles have been particularly helpful to students since step-by-step drawing and drafting comprise a considerable part of the course. Arnold says that although he would normally check a student’s work in person at their drawing table, the overhead camera actually makes it easier to demonstrate.
Arnold says that the creation of the remote studio, which will be used by other faculty and students as the summer progresses, has helped the industrial design program maintain its high standards of education. “The goal was to improve our teaching to the level that we do in person,” he stated. “There are certain things we can’t replace, but it shouldn’t be the instructional side.”
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