Their learning curve, however, includes a temporary fourth dimension of sorts. Because of COVID-19 and space limitations, the class is online.
Art and design may begin as an idea, but this semester it also began as a problem — how to convey the concepts of 3D design across cyberspace without compromising hands-on aspects needed to learn the skills.
The solution: Art and design kits. A week before classes began, a group of instructors and staff spent 9½ hours assembling 264 kits on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The kits are the bones of seven instructors’ project ideas: linesman pliers, needle nose pliers, glue sticks, a hot glue gun, Elmer’s glue, 40 sheets of 11 by 17 card stock paper, masking tape and 53 feet of wire strands in three gauges.
“We needed the kinds of things that give us options,” said Senior Lecturer Maureen “Molly” Uravitch. “However we can keep them engaged and make the situation as normal as possible is important.”
“I was very impressed. Not only was the kit packaged super neatly, papers and wires tucked away into envelopes inside of a small shipping box, but I greatly appreciated the time spent to ensure that every single student has all of the materials that they need for the course. That commitment was worth it for the success of this online course,” said Marconnet, of Waterloo, Wis.
Marconnet is living in an apartment in Menomonie — about half of UW-Stout’s classes are in-person this semester — and working on their 3D projects on a desk mat.
“It has been convenient to put on my safety glasses and get to work here for sure. It certainly is a shame to not be in the classroom together or get to use the Process Lab, but we’re making the best of it that we can at home,” Marconnet said.
Marconnet said Uravitch’s tutorials “are super helpful.”
Uravitch has divided her 22 students into four discussion groups. “So much discovery happens in the classroom while seeing other students’ work. I’m trying to simulate what would happen in the classroom,” she said.
Virtual learning — when required — is working for Uravitch.
“I had five students who said the holiday break was too long, that they were excited to come back. I found that really encouraging,” she said. “I’ve learned how important it is to listen to the students about what’s working and isn’t.”
The Pre-BFA Experience helps new students discover if a BFA is right for them. Faculty and staff provide guidance, including how to develop a portfolio and how to meet requirements for any of the six programs UW-Stout offers.