Last year, eyeing a rapidly shrinking budget, Associate Professor of Dance Jennifer Salk had an idea: Why not put dance classes online? In the face of 20 percent budget cuts, a five-credit 100-level dance course—which nearly 500 students took last year to fulfill VLPA requirements—was in danger. Cutting the course entirely would affect everyone from football players to pre-med majors.
Thus an online dance class was born.
This year “Understanding Dance,” which teaches students how to look at, talk about and write about dance, went from a five-day studio and lecture class to the web. Students download lectures and course materials via the Internet, attend dance classes in the community, converse in online forums and upload dance projects they perform on their own for evaluation via YouTube.
“At first, we wondered how we would transfer something visual online,” says Salk. In the end, she and colleagues have seen tangible results. After just one offline dance class the students lit up the online forums. “ ‘Oh, now I’m getting it,’ ” one wrote to the others.