As educators and students around the world discover new modes of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, one U.S. university has pioneered continuous engagement with students through real-time, online instruction. SCAD, an art and design university with locations in the U.S. and Europe, has launched a new platform called SCADnow, available to SCAD students worldwide, which features a robust array of virtual resources to keep students on track toward their degrees and their development as creative professionals.
“Worldwide, virtual collaboration has long been the reality for creative professions,” said president and founder of SCAD, Paula Wallace. “Designers, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, writers, animators, all of these professions are comfortable with remote work and contributing to teams spread out across the globe.”
SCADnow features real-time, synchronous instruction (i.e., where students meet via Zoom with a SCAD professor at designated times throughout the week), with instruction featuring live demonstrations and lectures (delivered live and recorded for further study and rewatching throughout the quarter), as well as weekly virtual master classes through Guests & Gusto, daily group sessions devoted to wellness through SCAD Bee Well, and a continuous schedule of specific faculty-led workshops through SCADextra.
“SCADnow amplifies the dialogue, design, and discovery of ideas in our virtual classrooms,” said Wallace. “Students find new friends through breakout groups and other virtual engagements, too. They live and study within a vibrant network of classmates and collaborators.”
“We have an incredible commitment to taking the learnings of the moment and defining those and continuing to build on them,” SCAD Associate Vice President for Academic Services Jason Fox said. “We are not looking at this as something to get through. We’re looking at this as something to build on, learn from and lead.”
The university feels strongly that virtual education actually recreates for SCAD students the realities of working in a creative profession. “Consider interior design or architecture,” Wallace said. “Design leaders in these disciplines are already managing client relationships that stretch across the world. They’re doing walkthroughs in physical spaces using remote ARVR and drone technology. SCAD students benefit tremendously from learning how to work on a team virtually and how to receive feedback on their work through digital connection. This is future-proofing!”
SCAD academic calendars and schedules remain in place, with SCADnow virtual classes meeting at 8:00 am, 11:00 am, 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm, and 8:00 pm on Mondays/Wednesdays and Tuesdays/Thursdays, respectively, with virtual engagements, events, live games, and round-the-clock access to SCAD digital resources throughout the week. For example, every day, students have access to live chat sessions and Zoom one-on-ones with SCAD research librarians to locate library resources and have physical books shipped to them, if a digital copy does not exist.
While most SCAD students prefer to study in-person, they are taking the ups and downs of this year in stride and learning valuable lessons about flexibility and making the most of every moment. “I think we all just need to go into it ready to adapt,” said Candi Gordon, a fashion student at SCAD. “This could be something that follows with us like for the rest of our career so we really need to just be flexible and try to do our best even with these limiting circumstances.”
Additionally, SCAD has opened up designated university buildings in Savannah and Atlanta to allow students in those locations to access specialized learning resources and technology related to their degree programs. Many students live near campus in both cities, and SCAD has opened residence halls, as well, albeit at a substantially reduced capacity for Fall 2020.
Gordon said, “I’m pretty sure everyone who is in Savannah still will definitely be trying to use the studio’s space as much as possible.”
All who enter SCAD facilities must wear a face covering and will have their temperature taken before entry. The university has published a vigorous sanitizing plan and appointed a team of contact tracers, as well as developing a plan should exposure occur. For more information about SCADnow and the university’s protocols and FAQs, readers are invited to https://www.scad.edu/coronavirus.