Teaching Creative Content Online: Comparing and Contrasting Online Techniques with Face-to-Face Approaches
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This research looks at the application of online teaching techniques and resources in the field of creative design education. Teaching creative design principles and delivering content around this topic is often viewed as being more suited to a hands-on, face-to-face style of delivery. Yet online techniques can be extremely effective in these creative fields. This paper describes the findings of a five year study, involving more than five hundred participants from various age groups, cultures and locations, and compares face-to-face teaching methods with online delivery of creative course materials. The study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each technique. Results from each method, including learning outcomes, student satisfaction and engagement clearly demonstrate that online techniques are highly effective in transferring knowledge and providing students with the skills needed for developing effective creative outcomes. Yet there are other more subtle advantages that are often overlooked, including the fact that participants in online groups had a tendency to be more daring in their work. The relative anonymity provided by online methods led to students taking greater risks with their creative works and overall achieving better creative outcomes. Risk taking and experimentation is an important element of creative learning and online methods show potential to improve this area. Although knowledge transfer and outcomes were more effective with online approaches, the level of student engagement and satisfaction was lower. Clearly the nature of face-to-face personal interaction was a preferable form of engagement for student participants. An interesting exception to this was for students who are normally more excluded in face-to-face interaction scenarios. These participants, often distanced due to language, culture or physical issues such as disabilities, performed significantly better in online groups and also reported higher levels of engagement and satisfaction. This project also developed and compared several different types of online resources and delivery. The use of more personalized online resources proved to be much more effective in terms of student engagement. With large group recorded lectures showing much lower engagement than the same information being presented in a personal discussion form. With online delivery of teaching materials becoming more widespread, the application of online teaching in creative fields is an important area for future development, this research has demonstrated the potential for online delivery in creative courses as well as defining some key principles in targeting these resources and developing effective content and delivery.
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