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Jewelry Design School Uses Online Education to Teach Hands-On Skills

For Academy of  Art’s jewelry design school, distance is no obstacle to learning. This is especially true nowadays that technology has removed that barrier.

The School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) has partnered with Online Workshops to help students master their technical skills, no matter where they are. With supporting tools like this at their disposal, students can easily get in touch with instructors for guidance and work review.

A Practical Partnership

Learning outside a traditional classroom setting can be challenging enough as it is. It becomes even more so when it involves learning hands-on techniques better taught in person. JEM’s online education program, however, provides an efficient virtual student-instructor interaction.

Using weekly live seesions and demonstrations, it becomes possible to teach even highly technical skills like metalsmithing. It’s an even better option for students too, rather than simply watching instructional videos. At least here, they can better see how to properly hold and use their tool, and follow the instructor in real-time. With this component of the online program, they can also work on further improving certain for more advanced levels.

Instructors also benefit from using these live features in the online classroom. They can have a better perspective of the progress of their students, and make sure that the learning process is going smoothly. Teaching hands-on techniques like soldering, stone setting, or reticulation also become simpler with the use of a high definition webcam.

“It is a bit like being able to look over a student’s shoulder or have them look over mine,” explained Chesna. “We have come a long way from that evening with the handheld cell phone camera.”

JEM Online Tutor Screen

Technology to the Rescue

For JEM student Korrine Lewis, these tools were a convenient solution while she trying to finish her midterm project online. She consulted her instructor, Karen Chesna, who was also on the program remotely, teaching online from a studio in Montana.

Using Adobe Connect’s video, chat, and other features, they were able to interact with each other in an online classroom setting. Lewis was able to show Chesna her problem with her soldering technique through a live demonstration. Chesna, meanwhile, was able to provide real-time feedback and corrections. In the end, Lewis finished her midterm project while mastering a skill she was initially struggling with.

“Metalsmithing is such a technical skill,” explained Chesna. “It’s all about the minute details: a degree or two more of heat with the torch, a different grip and angle on a burnisher to set a stone. These things make a huge difference. Being able to observe a student working, or having them watch me do a brief demo of a skill they are having problems mastering has had a significant impact on student success.”

Story originally published in ArtU News.

Featured photo: JEM instructor Karen Chesna conducts a live demo via Adobe Connect. Photo courtesy of Karen Chesna.

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