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Remote Teaching with Arts & Entertainment Enterprise

Block by Blockwest Minecraft soundstage

April 23, 2020

The graduate programs of the Department of Arts & Entertainment Enterprise entered the virtual sphere with one key advantage—it houses both on-campus and online programs already, and so many of its faculty and students are highly fluent with an online learning environment. The biggest challenge their graduate programs now face is how to build and maintain community for students to support each other and their course work. A critical part of the graduate curriculum, especially thesis work, Department Head Julie Goodman says, “is building a community of scholars, establishing peer-to-peer relationships that enable students to lean on each other, and their faculty, for support throughout.”

In Julie’s Research Design in the Arts course, students are finding new ways to connect socially as well as with research and class-based topics. Julie set up a Microsoft Teams chat for the class, where students regularly post updates about what museums and arts organizations are doing now to innovate and survive. “They also use it to share information about how to find each other's islands in Animal Crossing, and they visit each other (as well as the Getty) there when we're not in class,” she says.

Neville Vakharia, Program Director for the on-campus Master’s in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership program, is teaching Cultural Planning & Digital Storysharing this term alongside Digital Media Associate Professor Glen Muschio. In the course, students take part in an ongoing project to develop a plan for an augmented-reality, interactive mural. The mural will be comprised of family stories told by Philadelphia Germantown residents, hand-drawn and digital illustrations, and original music from local artists. Because students cannot now go to Germantown, Neville and Glen have brought Germantown to them, inviting community artists, activists, organizers, and lifelong residents who are central to telling the neighborhood's stories to join synchronous class sessions.

Laura-Edythe Coleman, Program Director for the online Master’s in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership program, has become a faculty leader in our community during the transition to remote learning. In the last month, Laura-Edythe has counseled over 24 faculty colleagues in individual sessions, addressing their questions and concerns about teaching online, helping them develop appropriate strategies, and encouraging them all to first teach to their strengths, rather than the technology. She also led two bootcamp sessions for graduate students in how to thrive in online courses, while continuing to work with her program’s faculty and preparing to teach her own courses.


Meanwhile, undergraduate students and alumni from the Department of Arts & Entertainment Enterprise continue to produce exciting academic and extracurricular work. Entertainment & Arts Management seniors Caroline McFarland and Aliena Walrond originally planned to organize a half-day TEDx event for their thesis project. Given the circumstances, Caroline and Aliena had to pivot quickly, and are now engaged in organizing a live streamed TEDx event with the guidance of Teaching Professor Larry Epstein and Westphal Director of Communications & Events Vivianna Bermudez. The event will be streamed on Sunday, May 31st—stay tuned for more details!

Block by Blockwest Courier Club
Minecraft avatars for Courier Club.

On April 25th at 3pm EST, Music Industry student Michael Silverglade and his Courier Club bandmates presented the first Block By Blockwest: A Minecraft Music Festival. The virtual music festival, held live via the online game Minecraft, aimed to replace a number of canceled live performances, and the lineup included high-profile artists like Pussy Riot, nothing,nowhere, The Wrecks, and more. Proceeds from the festival were donated to the CDC’s Covid-19 Response Fund. Read more about Block By Blockwest in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lastly, everyone could use a little positivity through music. Music Industry alum Matt Campana (’11) served as producer and audio engineer for an international virtual choir in collaboration with Out of the Blue Productions. The video brings together singers from three continents and nine different countries for a moving rendition of Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Matt is also the founder of the outstanding New Jersey-based Legendary Coffee, which takes online orders!