Making Distance Learning Count for Creatives

Faculty in the Department of Interactive Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago were well prepared to take advantage of a range of highly interactive learning approaches to continue instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The school had already provided all students, faculty and staff full access to Microsoft’s Office Teams environment and Adobe’s online Creative Suite. When the Zoom platform became popular in recent months, it was added as well. Students are creating their digital work at home and presenting it “live online”, getting critiques from faculty and peers.

“The transition to online learning has been surprisingly straightforward. I’m able to let my students demo their work-in-progress games on software like Unity3D by sharing their computer desktops, one at a time, just like I would in the regular classroom environment,” said David Gerding, Associate Professor in the Department of Interactive Arts and Media. “The choice of systems and the existing comfort of the faculty and students with these kinds of e-learning experiences has really minimized the impact,” he added.

Like many institutions, the school has worked overtime to ensure that students have the gear they need to connect remotely. The school’s substantial investments in recent years paved the way, and even included remotely accessible high-performance virtual media workstations, including powerful graphics accelerators, allowing students to do complex media production like video editing, software development, and animation – without having those high-powered machines and all that expensive software installed at home.

“As studying creative topics requires access to the most modern and cutting-edge tools, it is imperative that students continue to have the full capabilities they had on campus to complete their coursework while off campus.”, said Assistant Director of Media Systems Chris Adamescu. These virtual workstations provide students the ability to complete projects without having to compromise on quality of software and computing power and provides what they need to operate as professionals in their industry.