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Self-directed Learning for Art Students: YouTube Video Clips Encourage Self-direction of Creative Learning

Demonstrations are always effective when an Art Teacher is trying to teach technique. The easiest way to learn is to watch while someone demonstrates a technique proficiently. It is even better if it is explained logically and clearly as the demonstrator works.
The Problem with Art Demonstrations
However, if teachers want their classes to be self-directed learners, pitching a demonstration to an entire class can be problematic. Some students may already know the technique well. They may have learnt it during private lessons, or they may have experimented themselves at home. They may have tried out methods from books, or have a parent teaching them to paint in a particular way so that they already have a style of their own.
Self Directed Learning for Art Students
The solution is self directed learning. If your art class has access to a computer lab, set the students a research assignment that is based around a demonstration of their choice from YouTube.com. The instructional vignette, How to Paint a Cabbage Rose by Donna Dewberry, [YouTube. One Stroke. 2006] is an excellent example of an educational film clip. It has all the qualities a teacher would want from a teaching resource. In the YouTube clip, “Donna Dewberry teaches you how to paint the cabbage rose”, the students learn about a focused technique from a particular genre; Folk Art Painting. The subject matter is about how to paint a cabbage rose. The technique demonstrated is variegation of brush strokes.
Choosing a Good Instructional Video
The rose painting film clip was chosen as an example because Donna Dewberry is a very talented and experienced Folk Art painter. She generously shares her knowledge about a particular kind of variegated brush stroke and the formation of a rose shape. She explains the technique and variegated brushwork clearly and succinctly.
Although she seems to be sponsored by a paint company, when Donna talks about the materials, she gives just the required amount of information for the task. Her explanations are logical, clear, and concise.
She is a good teacher who works slowly enough for students to see how her hands work. Her adept demonstrations accompanied by unhurried explanations make it easy for the students to follow what she is doing and saying. Her style of painting is structured and simple, so that the rose is surprisingly easy to paint.
Good Teaching Builds Student Confidence
The ease and manageability of the process ensure that this will be a successful experiment. If the students follow instructions, they are likely to increase in artistic confidence when painting. The achievement will be good for their self-esteem and their faith in their artistic abilities.
The Advantages of Freely Accessible Instructional Videos Online
Clips such as Dewberry’s series of instructional videos on YouTube.com, assist art teachers to maintain a self-directed classroom. This is because students:
1. can replay the clip repeatedly until they have absorbed and understand the information completely
2. are able to stop the clip at advantageous places taking all the time it needs to copy and to experiment with information learned
3. experience the benefit of close up camera shots, which illustrate for students exactly what the strokes should look like
4. can revise and practice at home (if they have computers at home or in the library)
5. can be experimenting and learning different painting tasks from different computers
Culminating Art Activity
When the students have completed their research assessment task, they can demonstrate the techniques they have learned to the class. It does seem to be true that “you never really know something until you have taught it.” [Anon] By sharing information gathered from YouTube.com in this way, the class will benefit from a wealth of knowledge gained during the investigative process.