Studios, Performing Arts, & Collection-based Courses

Experiential learning is a holistic learning model based on an integrative process where students first obtain knowledge, then perform an activity (generally with some “real-world” application), and finally reflect on the experience (Kolb 1984), often iteratively. “Experiential” can refer to any learning where instructors guide students to apply conceptual knowledge in actual situations or settings. Classic scenarios include activities and experiences held outside of class. But, it also includes more conventional active learning techniques used in the classroom, such as simulations, case studies, and material study. With the transition to remote learning, experiential learning in studio, performing arts, and collection-based courses requires some creativity and alteration.


To plan for the 2020-21 academic year, a Studio, Performing Arts, and Collection-based Courses (SPAC) Task Force was formed from Yale Faculty of Arts and Sciences to provide guidance for teaching Yale SPAC courses online. The guidance remains relevant for all periods of remote instruction. Below we highlight a sample of pedagogical strategies developed by the SPAC task force and the Poorvu Center to inspire creative solutions to teaching studio, performing arts, and collection-based courses remotely. You may also view the full list of recommendations from the Studio, Performing Arts, and Collection-based (SPAC) Courses Task Force.

  • Prioritize courses best suited to remote instruction. Fully planning, preparing, and resourcing courses intended for remote delivery will encourage more effective uses of instructor time and better outcomes for students than planning for in-person courses. 
  • Alter course goals, content, and methods to engage current conditions and enduring concepts. In addition to focusing on techniques and individual works, vigorously engage conditions of life during pandemic. Encourage explorations of media and technology, of liveness, presence, and materiality, of the viral circulation of images, of crisis, distance, and quarantine, and of the intersection between art and public health.
  • Invite students to engage with Yale’s digital collections as well as other online resources including online exhibitions and concerts, performance videos, digital museums, and library collections.
  • Explore existing video and virtual resources that address your studio topic. For instance, peruse and vet videos from Ted Talks, YouTube, or other video databases to demonstrate a technique or software application or to provide content for reflection and analysis.
  • Consider discipline-specific resources from academic and non-academic perspectives such as Yale’s image databases (visual resources), ArtStor (visual art resources), ThingStor (material culture), Section Cut (architecture), and Edit Media (media production courses).
  • Consider incorporating individual or a series of online guest presentations in class (by artists, scholars, other instructors) to increase the variety of perspectives and the dynamism of the course format, as well as to broaden the sense of community.
  • Invite community partners at Yale or in New Haven to share their experiences of course topics (theater, art, architecture, music, museums, libraries, film. etc.). 
  • Ask students to share their work digitally for “desk crits”: If you only need to see it to offer a critique, then you could ask them to upload it as an assignment, or you could meet with students via Zoom or phone and have them present the work in the meeting.
  • Ask students to share their work digitally for peer feedback. Given the potential size of students’ work files, you can utilize different tools: “Graded Discussion” threads allow students to upload their work and peers to provide feedback. VoiceThread allows students to upload their work, add video/audio/text explanations, and share feedback on peers’ work.


Kolb, D. A. (1984).  Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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