Online Arts Education – Innovating Accessibility

Posted on: by Michael Tringe

Arts education in public California high schools is required by the curriculum, but not supported by the state budget.  What that meansis that PTAs have to hold fundraisers to pay for the programs that will allow our kids to experience things like the visual arts in a school setting.  Startup companies are playing a big role in opening up affordable and fun access to arts education for the next generation of creators.

Last Friday, I spoke on a panel at Silicon Beach Fest with three other startup companies, Hourschool, The Stan Winston School of Character Arts, and Music Prodigy – sponsored by DigitalLA and moderated by Shawn Gold from Mahalo, one of the leading online education sites that allows you to instantly “learn anything.”  Each startup is finding its own way to make arts education more accessible to students either in or outside of a school setting.  Harold Lee spoke about music prodigy and how it turns learning how to play the guitar on your own into a fun game.  Christina Tran spoke about how Hourschool allows people who have a common goal to gather together and learn from each other.  Shannon Gans from the Stan Winston School of Character Arts spoke about how their online education platform works with the leading character artists in Hollywood to teach their craft to anyone anywhere in the world via video.  And CreatorUp gives people the opportunity to learn about how to make and promote their own web series via video tutorials and online live lab workshops.  We were proud to chat with each startup about the ways in which we could all offer methods to teach and learn the arts to a much wider group at all levels.

One of the problems with online education is accountability — but this is where the role of online communities is valuable.  By giving people a venue to show off their work to each other in our live online labs, we’re able to give instant and specific feedback that allows individuals to gain reactions that are authentic in a safe setting.   While YouTube comments tend to be all over the place and can also be inappropriate or overly critical, hearing directly from co-creators what they like or don’t get about the new project you just poured your heart into making is incredibly valuable.   Another thing CreatorUp has done differently than many other film programs online or otherwise, is to teach people how to promote their work.  It’s one thing to learn how to make a good video.  It’s something else, to learn how to actually get people to see it and watch it.   And we know that it’s easy to slack off if you’re not being graded for something.  But we hope that out students will be encouraged to finish their projects for another reason: good old fashioned positive peer pressure, by forming teams to work with each other.  We piloted a development lab with a blogger who shared her idea for a new project with a web series producer and web series director – and now they’re going to go make it!

This is just the beginning of what we feel is a transformation in the way in which people learn and who people learn from.  We’re working with teachers who are top creators who are “un-boxing” their unique experience in the web space to share with anyone, but especially content creators who are passionate about making their own videos for the web and want to know how to take their projects to the next level.  We’re curating this extremely talented group of creators as our teachers so that their knowledge and experience is accessible on demand, and also in a live real time setting.   Whether you only have time to learn in bits and pieces on a bus on your phone on the way to work, or if you have one night free out of the week to watch a course over dinner, tutorials are the “flipped classroom” technique that many major universities are rapidly adopting.  And our labs are the other side of that classroom– where students get to go over all the answers to their homework with their classmates and teachers in a live online setting.  This is exciting – since so many of our teachers are working on their own projects and focused on their own careers, and they have made the decision to take the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience because they recognize the importance of our future creators, their new voices, and in helping them to make the best projects that they can based on their own talents and interests.

We had the chance to meet with our teachers this month to get their feedback about the website before we launch, and they’re very excited to meet their students.  As we prepare to launch CreatorUp into its beta phase in the coming weeks — I can say that we are most excited to see all the new projects that will be made by new creators.  Creators who have always wanted to make their own projects or make them better- but maybe weren’t sure how to start – or maybe didn’t have a reason to finish.

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Written by Michael Tringe

Mike Tringe earned his MFA in Film Production from USC and has worked at Creative Artists Agency Film Sales (Paranormal Activity, Black Swan), Vuguru, Michael Eisner's multi-platform studio, (The Booth at the End (Hulu), Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Snag), Little Women Big Cars (AOL), and Blip Networks (300 million monthly views, Smosh, Annoying Orange, Nostalgia Critic).

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