by Carolyn Edlund
Artists want and need to learn skills that help in building their businesses. But is the online or in-person experience better?
I recently had a conversation with an adjunct professor who teaches International Finance and Economics to graduate students at a nearby university. The topic turned to online courses and distance learning, which is currently all the rage. Schools are developing e-courses to accommodate the needs and schedules of students everywhere.
“That trend is changing,” he said. “There is pushback now, with students wanting the live experience rather than virtual learning.”
There are clearly benefits to both. In my own experience as a speaker and workshop leader at in-person art business workshops around the country, I know the “real” experience has incredible value that you cannot get on the internet, even if an online class is taught live.
But as an online course creator, I can appreciate the convenience of that format as well. You don’t have to travel or meet a schedule. Recorded classes or packaged content is often self-paced. You can repeat sections of the course, or skip them. And they can be delivered instantly.
Still, I’m not surprised that in a digital world people are craving face-to-face interaction, not only with an instructor but with other students and peers. It’s a higher level of connection. Spontaneous discussion and personalized attention thrive in live environments.
Being part of an art community is a powerful factor in the success of creative businesses, whereas isolation is a key factor in their failure. Communities are often built online, and they can be very helpful and inspiring. But they don’t have that intangible quality of an in-person meeting. There is no substitute for shaking hands, sitting down together over coffee, or enjoying conversation with others who are equally serious about their art.
What is your experience? Have you taken online courses? Live workshops or classes? Which do you prefer, or find more effective?