While all students are struggling to adjust to remote instruction due to COVID-19, Lesley’s Art and Design students face additional challenges: ones that, if mishandled, threaten to undermine the foundation of their coursework. The creative process is a collaborative effort. It is heavily reliant on others for their feedback and support. Finished artwork often has many fingerprints on it, with peers and mentors alike offering their opinions in order to guide an artist’s creation.
During this new age of social distancing, however, art-making can no longer be done in the presence of others. With courses going online, I wondered if there would be a way for LA+D students to access the wisdom of their classmates from home. If resigned to working completely on their own, would students still be able to make art that they felt proud of? If they weren’t able to create to the best of their abilities given the circumstances, would accommodations be made?
Via email, I spoke with Christine Collins, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Photography & Interdisciplinary Studies, to see how LA+D faculty members are readying students to produce artwork from home while still maintaining a sense of community.
Lesley Public Post: With many states now under stay-at-home orders, it may be difficult for Digital Filmmaking or Photography majors to get out and shoot. How are course requirements being restructured to accommodate this change?
Christine Collins: In the Photography Department, each faculty member has looked carefully at their course learning objectives and identified the ones that can be translated to online learning. Course assignments have been modified to accommodate making inside and while social distancing. It’s been truly amazing to see how students are adapting [to] and making amazing work in their new circumstances! Problem-solving is a huge aspect of being an artist and we are really seeing our students rise to this occasion.
LPP: Will any grading policies change now that students are creating art at home versus in class?
Collins: Yes, we are following Lesley’s Spring 2020 policy of pass/fail unless the students request a letter grade. Faculty are also very aware that students might be facing challenges and are proceeding with lots of flexibility and support.
LPP: What about critiques? Students benefit greatly from receiving feedback on their work—can those be facilitated online?
Collins: Absolutely! There have already been some amazing online critiques through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. It’s been great for student[s] and faculty to reconnect online, give feedback about work, and strategize together to make new work.
LPP: What about students who relied on equipment from lock-up to complete their assignments? Is there an alternate way for them to access those materials?
Collins: Digital and Photo Lockup [will] remain closed until Lunder [Arts Center] reopens. Students who are unable to complete assignments due to equipment and material needs are encouraged to reach out to their professor or department chair, who will help coordinate options and direct the requests to the proper office.
LPP: How will a student’s lack of course materials at home be handled? With lock-up closed, there may be students who can’t get to a store right now or afford their own equipment. Will this be taken into consideration when they are graded?
Collins: Yes! Faculty are very aware of the fact that students might be facing different kinds of challenges right now. We are all very willing to make accommodations and support them in developing strategies for accomplishing their assignments. Everyone is very committed to
helping students through this complicated time.
[More information on how Lesley University is responding to COVID-19 can be found at https://