Spring term during the COVID-19 pandemic

by William Riddell | Staff Writer

Spring Term, the summer staple that concludes the end of the school year for many University of Indianapolis students, is right around the corner, and with professors prepped and ready to take on the term virtually, it does not look like COVID-19 is going to have too many negative effects. Figuring out a way to adapt was the big key, according to Associate Professor and Department Chair of Art and Design Jim Viewegh.

“My whole department, we just kind of figured out how we could make it work and got together and made that happen,” Viewegh said.

Viewegh, who has been teaching at the university for over two decades, will be instructing from his home studio. Viewegh said that a document camera and multiple screens allow him to teach from home without missing a beat.

“All around me are pallets, and paints and pencils,” Viewegh said. “So, I can do anything I could do from school here [in my home studio]. I can’t work with them [students] hands-on, which is the part we really miss, but I can still demonstrate everything they want to do. If they’re having problems with a drawing, I simply just redraw their stuff for them. It’s all working.”

The Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement has gotten innovative too, according to Director Marianna Foulkrod. She said that engagement looks different than it did traditionally.

“In music therapy or in art therapy, it may be that we have our students, and we do, we have our students connecting with seniors at senior facilities or youth programs via interactive virtual meetings,” Foulkrod said. “Some of those seniors cannot wait to connect to that Zoom link and have someone to talk to and listen to music [with] and do art [with]. They are so excited about it.”

According to Viewegh, even though a virtual Spring Term has allowed him to get creative with how he teaches, he is still eagerly awaiting the day when he and his students can share a space, he said.

“Before I could just simply go to their drawing or painting and demonstrate right there what they needed to do,” Viewegh said. “Now I have to demonstrate it, and record it, [and] take a photograph of it, and send it to them so they can do it that way. It’s that separation that we’re in right now and it’s that close contact that we had before that we’re missing.”

Spring Term officially starts May 10, according to the university’s official calendar. Viewegh is confident that no matter what Spring Term brings, the university will be ready to handle it. 

“Whatever we need to do we make happen,” Viewegh said. “That’s the thing. That’s the great thing about UIndy [and] the faculty at UIndy, they make stuff happen and that’s never an issue.”

Foulkrod said, it’s in the students’ hearts to want to continue to give back and learn ways to do so.

“Our students have been one heck of a body of students,” Foulkrod said. “They want to give back and continue to learn in those ways and engage in those ways. They are fearless and  committed and motivated.”

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