Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Learn to Knit Socks, Interweave Craft University

Late last year, I had the very wonderful experience of trying out a new online teaching platform, in conjunction with Interweave.

Their "Craft University" platform is quite unlike the other ways of delivering online courses. It uses an environment inspired by distance learning tools that universities and colleges use. I loved it.

Although video is an important piece of it, it's not just about the video.

It is a combination of video and downloadable patterns and 'lectures' and group discussions and interactivity. Feb 24th, we're starting another session of my Learn to Knit Socks class.

There are five lessons, and you can work through at your own pace. We set a time limit of a month for the class, to encourage engagement and progress. Although sometimes it can be fun to sign up for a class with no limit, this is a topic that benefits from focus and practice, and putting some gentle deadlines on the class definitely helps with that.

(No-one is going tell you off if you don't get the class finished, of course, and all class notes and patterns and downloadable resources are yours to keep forever.)

But the real value comes with the interaction - with me, and with your fellow students. Over the month of the class., I logged in two and sometimes three times to a day to answer questions from students, to join in discussions, and to post new material.

I worked a sock as we worked through the class material, and was able to create real-time content updates to answer questions and expand on discussion points. I loved that I was able to add to the class material to delve into topics students wanted me to; I posted extra pictures and video to explain a point that was challenging.... 
When a student asked how I count my heel rows...
And students were able to post pictures and questions for me and their fellow students.  There are two types of interaction - one-on-one between me and a particular student, and also an open thread that all students could read. Most discussion was in the open forums, and I very much appreciated people's willingness to ask questions in a "public" way. I'm a great believer that you learn more from mistakes than from getting something right the first time, and so I definitely encouraged sharing of "learning experiences" as well as the perfect results. I shared some of my own mistakes and learning experiences! And so many times, when a student posted a question, others would chime in with their own related question - or an answer, even. So much generosity and sharing and cheering each other on! I loved that we were all learning from each other, and chatting.

The feedback from students was great. Although the class might not have been in a format they were used to, many commented that this was a really great way to handle material that needs more than just demos. In some ways it was better than an in-store class, as we had a month to work together, and so students could take their time and really practice their new skills.

So yes, if you're interested in tackling sock knitting, and can't attend one of my classes in person, try Interweave's Craft University.

For more info, and to sign up.... 

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