Teaching Remotely in the Arts

2/13/17 — Boston, MA
Alex Creamer (CFA’17), left, does some detail work on her piece while Kristen Nemes (CFA’17) cleans her screen in Sergey Tsvetkov’s Silkscreen Printing class at 808 Commonwealth Ave Feb 13, 2017.
Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

Teaching online in the arts poses unique challenges.  To start, determine which of your course objectives are crucial and think creatively about how you might adapt them for remote learning.  What skills might students be able to develop without access to the materials, equipment, space, etc. in the studio?

Introduce content or demonstrate the skills to be learned through video conference (Zoom) or a recording.  Have students work independently and then reflect on their learning in writing or online presentations.  Offer feedback through video conference or Blackboard.  

Further considerations:

  • Can you shift the course’s learning objectives towards theory or history, rather than production or skill mastery?
  • What readily available materials could students use to learn the techniques or principles targeted in a studio class?
  • Can they demonstrate their understanding of technique in a digital form, such as a video or digital poster?
  • Can similar skills be substituted (i.e., CAD to replace model building in architecture studio classes)?

In addition, Dana Clancy, Associate Professor of Art and Painting and Director of the Visual Arts at CFA, offers the following suggestions:

  • Consider this time as a guided retreat for your students.  Underscore that the flow of artistic practice can benefit from quieter time that involves some kind of grounding and mental preparation for work in shared theory, histories, narratives, poetry, and mindfulness. What if students delved into readings alongside a parallel studio practice, so that final projects could be informed by these sources? 
  • The artist Hanneline Rogeberg once talked about the value of asking students to try to make the same piece in a different medium, such as translating painting ideas into a  video. What can students learn away from the resources available in the studio?   
  • Use this time to broaden your class’s sense of community.  Are there connections you can make for your students? How can students share their work with a wider audience, or make it speak to this particular moment?  
  • Build a stronger network for yourself by reaching out to faculty at other schools who are facing similar issues.

As Professor Clancy suggests, colleagues in your discipline are great sources of ideas, information, and support.  For example, Daniela Rivera, Associate Professor of Art at Wellesley College, explains that artists are well-equipped to adapt to circumstances: restrictions “[activate] creativity, [generate] movement.”

Below are area-specific resources, most of which are crowdsourced and evolving.  How will you contribute to these conversations?  


Ensembles and Conducting 

The College Band Directors National Association site brings together ideas from instructors about remotely teaching ensembles and conducting.

Remote Music Instruction

Trinity University’s Collaborative for Learning and Teaching has compiled resources and ideas for instruction and assessment.

Teaching Music Courses

The Texas Tech School of Music has assembled strategies from music faculty on topics such as online voice lessons.

Vocal Pedagogy

This site from the Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory features online resources on vocal pedagogy (not necessarily about teaching remotely).

Zoom for Musical Rehearsals and Instruction

The Royal Academy of Music in Denmark has created a tutorial on how to improve the audio quality of Zoom for remote music instruction.

Visual Arts

Art and Design Studio instruction

This Facebook community brings instructors of online art and studio courses together share resources, ideas and questions.


This crowdsourced document brings instructors of clay together to share resources, ideas, and questions.

Resources for Studio Art Courses

Trinity University’s Collaborative for Learning and Teaching has compiled resources and ideas for instruction and assessment.



Daphnie Sicre (Loyola University) includes general tips about teaching remotely as well as resources (webinars, Facebook communities, etc.) and instructional strategies for teaching theatre.

Teaching Theatre Online

This open-source site from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education compiles  resources for teaching theatre, including improv and scenic design.

Digital Theatre +

This site, offering temporarily free access, brings together online theater resources. 


Dance-based online pedagogy

The Dance Studies Association site includes links to digital tools, crowdsourced pages on specific areas, and scholarly research on online performance pedagogy.

Museum resources

The MCN (the Museum Computing Network) is compiling a growing list of online collections and digital archives.

Acknowledgements: This guide has been prepared with the help of Dana Clancy, Associate Professor of Art and Painting and Director of the Visual Arts at BU’s CFA.  We have also drawn on the Labs, Studio, or Fieldwork Courses portion of the Instructional Continuity plan compiled by Notre Dame University.