A Collection of Thoughts on Building Community.

Anne Marie Butler — Art History

How do we form community? (This was a topic we discussed before the spring quarter began too, but we’re sure you have thought about it more now, and have additional ideas.)

  • like I begin all my classes, in the online version we will continue in the first class to break into groups to discuss how to have respectful discussions and what to do when sensitive topics come up. I give the students agency to set their own boundaries on these issues. We will simply discuss how being online might be different and what else we need to consider.

Sarah Lindley — Art

Here are three assignments for building community:

  • One assignment was “This Became That”, a virtual Exquisite Corpse project. Each week for the second half of the term, students made a response to images of an artwork created by another member of the class. Images of their responses were sent to another member of the class at the start of the next week to be used as the inspiration for the next response. At the end of the term we had “lines” of images representing the transmogrification of their ideas and forms. All images passed through me, so the makers remained secret until the end. I kept my instruction and critique to an absolute minimal and just allowed things to evolve based on their own abilities, thought process, available materials, and energy level. The assignment put them inside each other’s thought process and helped communicate that we are still all connected.
  • The second assignment is on display in fine arts right now. Each student constructed the space where they were living/working in spring term in a 3D modeling program. We then turned those files into plastic molds that I cast plaster into, which resulted in solid representations of the empty space in their homes. The collection of these spaces is displayed as one small installation.
  • The Art Department sent our studio majors two great short colorful books about finding inspiration through community, including We Inspire Me: Cultivate Your Creative Crew to Work, Play, and Make by Andrea Pippins, as a “welcome to senior year gift” for the studio majors. Students will have an assignment that asks them to reflect on the suggestions in the books and develop some community building ideas tailored to the current distancing protocols.  

Josh Moon — Instructional Technology Specialist

There are many elements to forming community in an online course so I’m going to focus on one – time. I know one temptation is to utilize lots  of synchronous time to form community. The more time together, more community, right? This is one area where the in-person experience does not translate to the online experience. I’ve written a longer piece about this.

Alyce Brady — Computer Science

Three things I plan for building community in my fall courses:

  • Before spring quarter began, Sally Reed (Psych.) offered the suggestion to create a PowerPoint deck and have each student contribute a slide introducing themselves.  I used that idea in the spring, asking students to contribute their intro cards before the first day of classes, and found it helpful for me (thanks, Sally!)
  • I plan to break my class down into “lab subgroups” of 4-5 people and give each one a channel in the course team site.  A big part of Day 1 and Week 1 will be having students get to know the others in their sub-group.  
  • I have added a “Community” channel to my course Teams site. 

I’ve described these ideas in more detail in this longer blog piece.

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