Online learning has prevented Gary Mesa-Gaido from connecting with his students, but social media might be his answer.

Mesa-Gaido moved his art courses online to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Of the three classes he’s teaching this semester, two are traditional studio art classes, where students normally share tools. He had to be creative and find new ways of communicating with his students in an online format.

“When you’re doing it one-on-one, it can happen so much faster,” said Mesa-Gaido. “The communication just comes through when you’re in the same space with somebody.”

He has taken to social media platforms as one way to bridge this communication gap.

“I was thinking of trying to find those things like YouTube and Pinterest and use them for the purpose of edifying the students, filling that void,” he said.

He created a YouTube channel where he demonstrates different artistic techniques and makes tutorials to help guide students through class projects, but even with all the tools available, the inability to get tactile and form human connections has greatly affected the quality of education that students are receiving in an online format.

“I don’t care how many social media platforms you engage into, it’s not going to be the same as being in the room with people, talking, communicating,” said Mesa-Gaido.

Online learning has taken away the chance to see his students present their art and reach the finish line together after their hard work.

“It’s in the experience that the emotional quality comes out,” he said. “It’s one of those things that we’re missing out on and not getting with this mode of delivery of content.”

The nature of online courses has prevented Mesa-Gaido from having a personal connection from face-to-face interactions with his students.

“Online just seems so superficial in a way,” he said. “You don’t get that sense of collegiate culture that I think every student is entitled to.”