There are many different challenges to learning, which both students and faculty must overcome, as classes transition to virtual learning.

The coronavirus epidemic poses some unique challenges to certain disciplines, such as the fine arts, which are heavily performance-based. 

After all, how is one supposed to learn if they can no longer dance in a studio, play in an orchestra or have access to a kiln?

To learn more, I interviewed students in different arts departments to discuss their frustrations amid the crisis, as well strategies each department is taking to maximize learning. 

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Art student Callum White said he is the most frustrated with the fact that he won’t have access to specific equipment he needs in classes, such as glass blowing.

“Glass blowing is very up in the air, with changes almost daily to try and find ‘alternative’ methods [to learning],” White said.

Though some fine arts classes — like figure drawing — can transition more smoothly, the shutdown is heavily affecting all his studio classes and making it much more difficult to produce work. 

Caitriona Quirk is a dance and pre-med student working on their Pilates certificate. Quirk said that, though they can do ballet barre in their apartment, they can no longer dance or practice Pilates due to lack of access to studio spaces and equipment.

For performance courses, such as ballet or contemporary dance, Quirk has to submit videos of choreography and research papers online. But they felt that this method of learning was still very limiting.

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“I feel like I am now unable to grow in my embodiment of my major because I no longer have space to move or classes to take in-person,” Quirk said.

Bryson Bauer is a music education major and trombonist. He said the transition has not been too difficult for him personally, and cited his access to and knowledge of technology as the primary reason.

A benefit he’s actually encountered is that he has more time to practice various instruments. But Bauer said the biggest con of having to go online is that music performance relies heavily on face-to-face instruction.

“I would like to compare it to trying to teach someone a great golf swing (or swimming/running form) over Skype,” Bauer said.

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By not having an instructor in-person, there are a lot of details that are lost when it comes to learning.

“It probably would be generous to say that an online lesson is 1/50th as effective as an in-person lesson,” Bauer said.

There are some general themes which can be observed between these three departments which could also be generalized to many other departments on campus.

Students lose a great amount of resources without having access to certain spaces critical for learning, such as the library, computer labs and equipment.