Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2017 – FIT: John Allen
John Allen is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts Department of the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Professor Allen, who has taught at FIT since 1997, has also taught at SUNY Purchase and Hunter College, CUNY. He has taught an online version of the Drawing I class for several years, and his teaching was mentioned in a New York Times article in 2015, “Not Digital Art, but Art Learned Digitally.” A painter by practice, he received his BA from the University of California at Berkeley and his MFA from Hunter College, CUNY. His exhibitions include M55 Art, the Painting Center, the Paula Cooper Gallery, and the Drawing Center in New York, and he was twice a Painting Fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Teaching a studio class online requires a diligent response to student submissions and making sure everyone is staying on track to submit work and respond to each other. I also model comments for students when discussing their work, which I believe then influences their own peer review comments. I’ve noticed consistently that there is a level of involvement the students have with each other that develops as they submit feedback comments on each other’s work, often with a care that surpasses face-to-face critiques.
While responding to student work-in-progress can be less efficient than walking around a classroom and speaking to each student in turn, I’ve learned to group feedback for students so all can see comments and markups on the current work, with additional individual comments and markups added. And some aspects of lectures are more efficient, especially when students are conscientious to go back and review something they may not have understood at first, which can also be a benefit to students who may miss or not follow part of an in-class lecture.
My role as a teacher is to give students the chance to show themselves what they are capable of and to discover how they can create artwork on their own. In teaching online, I’ve noticed students who are self-motivated get the tools they need not only to succeed in terms of the basic content but also to take those ideas to a higher level of improved ability, as well as use the ideas in the course for their own major applications and personal interests.