The “Mixing Up Media” class I’m taking made me reflect on how high speed internet has transformed quilting education. I’m talking about classes devoted to a technique or project rather than “how to” videos, though the latter make it so easy to get help. I managed to sew a few beads onto a quilt thanks to a video.
Over the past four years I’ve taken several online quilting related classes but the number of in person classes I’ve taken has decreased. In fact, I took all but one of the in person classes because I wanted to experience specific big name teacher-quilters.
Why is this happening? There are lots of reasons. One, as my skills increase I seek more difficult/obscure classes that aren’t often given in person, simply because they don’t attract enough students in my locale. Two, the price of online classes is usually less than in person classes. Three, online classes have a much more flexible, forgiving schedule, often with the option of watching a video of the class several times. Four, I dislike hauling all my equipment and supplies to another location. Five, I don’t have to deal with the possibility that one needy/unprepared student will hog all the teacher’s time.
Every day I discover new online class offerings. The latest to hit my inbox is iquilt, which appears to be sponsored by the American Quilters Society and Bernina sewing machines. Its classes feature the now standard videos and online Q&A with the instructor.
My own experiences are with Craftsy and Academy of Quilting. I know there are other sources of online quilting classes, such as Annie’s Catalog, QuiltEd Online, Creativebug, and CraftU. Some charge per class while others have a monthly subscription.
Craftsy is the heavyweight of online craft course suppliers, with oodles of courses besides quilting. Cake decorating, anyone? They claim to offer over 700 classes. The site map for Craftsy gives an idea of the range of offerings. Craftsy also offers tutorials, a blog, supplies and a quilt pattern marketplace. You can interact with the instructor and fellow students, post photos of your class work, and rewatch the videos indefinitely. If you’re interested in a Craftsy class I urge you to watch the free sample so you can get a feel for the instructor before you plunk down your class fee. The instructor of one class I took had a mannerism that drove me crazy, so I never finished the class.
I used to take classes from Quilt University, which was bought and turned into Academy of Quilting after its founder died. These classes are much more print based, though some instructors have added little videos. There is a forum to interact with the instructor and other students, but I’ve found it to be little used except for one class I took from Elizabeth Barton. Classes are available for only six to eight weeks, which means you can’t go back and review a class after it closes. I download instructions so I can return to them later, but I have no idea if that’s kosher. Please don’t rat me out.
Individual teachers such as Leah Day also have online classes which often feature more advanced subjects. Elizabeth Barton runs an online year long master class that’s popular enough to have a waiting list.
With so many tempting choices, is an online class right for you? That depends in part on how you learn. Some students learn best with an instructor by their side to guide them and answer questions right away. Others take to a video format and are comfortable with written questions and answers and working independently. It may be a function of one’s age or previous educational experiences. I took online courses when I got a masters degree so I was already familiar with that type of class.
If you’ve taken any online quilting related courses I’d love to hear about your experiences – both good and bad. My experience has been positive, in the main, though I wouldn’t give all the classes five star reviews.