Join IA’s Distance Learning Conversation

By Imagining America | June 20, 2016


Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of co-facilitating two stimulating video conference discussions about delivering community arts training online.  I am part of a team developing a new community arts training program for middle and high school Science and Math teachers at Xavier University of Louisiana, and we wanted to learn from and about other programs in the field.  At the suggestion of Kevin Bott and with the support of Holly Zahn, we convened two one-hour webinars about the topic with a total of 25 IA members and others from 18 states across the country for a total of 2.5 hours.  Not bad for zero budget.

The energy and intelligence of these two discussions was significant to me because, among other things, it convinced me of two important things:  (1) distance learning is going to become a dominant, if not the dominant, mode for secondary and postsecondary education in the next few years; and (2) it is like most new technologies in that it can be used poorly or well.  I entered the discussion somewhat skeptical, probably like some others of my generation.  Community arts is after all about knowledge of specific places and deep human connections, both of which can be difficult to establish online, particularly for a program like the one we at Xavier are developing focused on working professionals.  I came out of the webinars feeling very differently, however.  I want to thank our fascinating featured speakers: Carlton Turner of Alternate ROOTS, Adam Bush of College Unbound, Dee Boyle-Clapp of Arts Extension, Heather Ikemire of National Guild of Community Arts Education, and most especially Bill Cleveland of the Center for the Study of Art & Community.  Hint:  in Webinar #2, Bill breaks down the findings in his new national report on community arts training beginning at 11:00.

We did not originally intend these conversations for publication, but the response makes us think we may be on to something worth future conversations.   Please contact Holly Zahn,, if you would like to be notified of future discussions.

Mathew Schwarzman, PhD
Teacher, Speaker, Producer, Author
Beginner’s Guide to Community-Based Arts
New Orleans, LA
(504) 858-1855