It’s official: the arts integration eClasses this summer are officially complete.  They were also officially successful!  We had a lot of fun connecting and collaborating, and best of all, learning.  It was so exhilarating as a teacher to be able to work with adults who were passionate about changing their schools and their classrooms.  We had people joining us from elementary, middle, high and even college levels and the work that they put in was tremendous.  Along the way, I was so fortunate to learn some very important lessons about eClasses:

1.) The format is HUGE.  The first eClass was held using NiceNet.org, which is simple, but also extremely easy as a “host” for the class.  However, there weren’t a lot of bells and whistles and I couldn’t embed any video or audio.  I found this to be holding us back a bit, so I moved the second class over to Coursesites.com and was SO much happier!  The participants were able to move more easily through the materials and didn’t have to click links left and right to get to multimedia that I wanted them to access.

2.) LiveBinders.com is an amazing portfolio website.  While it may not “look” fancy, the ability for each person to create their own personalized online binder with their materials was extremely valuable.  Now, each of them can share all of this information with a click of a button.  They created documents, audio, video and powerpoints that they can now use within their own staff.  Plus, it gives them one more useful tool to use with their own students.

3.) The online chats were incredible.  Being available for 2 hours twice a week is hard – but worth it.  When people signed on, we chatted and the time flew by.  I learned so much from our classmates through these chats – and there’s a lot of perspective in education to learn simply by talking with individual educators.  Also, it was much easier for me to help advise people on their own unique situations with things like how to schedule arts integration and how to present it to their staff by using the online chat sessions.  At the same time, if people did not participate in the chats (which were always optional), I didn’t feel as strong a connection with them, which was unfortunate.

4.) This truly restored my faith in educators who WANT to grow.  There is so much bad press out there about teachers being lazy, doing nothing with their summers, and who are just there to show up for a paycheck.  I can guarantee you that this is not the case.  These educators put in 20+ hours of work into this 3-week summer course and didn’t get paid for it or get graduate credit.  Instead, they participated for their own knowledge and personal growth, which is a testament to their commitment to the profession.

5.) People get what they put in.  Similar to number 3, I can’t control how much people participate in an online class, which makes teaching it somewhat difficult.  Some people wanted to be very involved, but if the rest of the class wanted to be on their own, the people who yearned for more online discussion felt left out.  This is a difficult issue for me to address, and I’m looking for more ways to help with this.  Anyone out there have any good ideas?

Overall, I was so happy with how our summer online classes went!  People were positive and excited, which is always wonderful to see.  Here are some of the comments I received from people:

“Thanks for all of your positivity and help during this course.  You provide us with such great ideas and help us stay on track!”

“Thanks, Susan.  Your suggestions are so helpful.  The brochures were fun to create and I used student art for the backgrounds and cover.”

“Loving your course and I’m get a lot out of your expertise!  It is so great that you take the time to do this and make it affordable. Thank you so much!”

“This course would be useful to someone whose district has made a commitment to an all-school arts integration plan.”

So THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this summer’s arts integration eClasses.  I have learned so much that I can apply to future classes and gained so much perspective on educational practices across the nation.  You have made this a wonderful experience for me and I am so grateful.

If YOU are interested in taking the arts integration eClass, another one is being offered again this fall, along with an Arts Technique class, an Arts Advocacy class and an Arts and Technology class.  Each are 6-week courses this time around, making the workload much more manageable during those school months.  Don’t miss out on participating in this fun, dynamic and engaging course!