Snap lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 resulted in sudden changes to multimodal teaching styles and delivery – i.e. blended learning. The obvious practical advantage of online learning is providing students greater flexibility to arrange and schedule their learning. However, the benefit of flexibility is not shared by all students. The intention of this paper is to share the adaptative experience of addressing challenges of online and blended learning in art and design education. The analysis of student surveys from 2019 and 2020 for studio-based units, shows that student satisfaction decreased and a preference for in person classes was voiced. Students felt disconnected and disengaged when the physical delivery of the units stopped.
This in turn affected their learning experiences, resulting in a high number of late withdrawals and fails due to non-submission of assessments. Workshop style teaching is significantly different to traditional lecture-tutorial formats of many university units in Australia. These workshops encourage learning through making and doing rather than lecture content delivery and individual assessment. When the transition to online teaching was needed, these units were delivered through prerecorded lectures that could be viewed asynchronously and live tutorials using video communication applications. Group work was encouraged through online forums and breakout rooms in the tutorial time. The constant “presence” of real lecturers and classroom interaction helped students to recover from the unexpended interruption in their learning The feedback and observations made by students in these types of units reveal the problems with adapting teaching styles that encourage collaboration, conceptualising and making physical artefacts to an online context as the survey results focussed on their dissatisfaction after the unit was moved online . Recovery from this period of physical isolation can be repaired by the return to face-to-face delivery but more thought needs to be given to exploring new educational pedagogies that prepare us better for future pandemics, natural disasters or other breakdowns that may disrupt our teaching systems to allow more successful adaption to online learning.