Last year, the MPS Digital Photography Department became the first program at SVA to offer a low-residency online option to its students. The three-term online/summer residency allows students to take a full load of fall and spring courses online using the Blackboard distance-learning system (students receive weekly class materials and assignments and then use the online forum to discuss and present their assignments), followed by a summer term in New York City completing their thesis work.
Three students from the initial class enrolled in the online version of the MPS program—Candace Dobro, David Forney and Lisette Ranga—recently spoke with the Briefs via e-mail about their experiences.
Why did you choose the online/low-residency option?
Dobro: I wanted to live at home [in northern New Jersey], and the lengthy commute would have prevented me from spending enough hours doing the actual work.
Ranga: I have a full-time job and I travel for work. I was looking for a program that is flexible, teachers who are industry professionals and a platform that will take my photography skills to a higher level.
Forney: I split time between Pittsburgh, PA, and Charlotte, NC. I have a family, job and house, and leaving family, job and home for a year was just out of the question. The online option was the perfect program for my circumstances.
What has been the most surprising aspect of the online program?
Ranga: I had heard that taking classes online can be challenging and you lose the human interaction. The faculty has found useful ways to incorporate visual learning through interviews, step-by-step instructions/critiques on video, and they have created an excellent environment for online communication.
Forney: I feel a cohesion with the other students about the subject matter and the desire to learn and succeed. I also feel personally connected to the instructors. They get to know us in much the same way that an instructor would get to know students in a live classroom.
What advice do you have for anyone considering the online MPS program?
Dobro: Be prepared to make being a student a full-time endeavor. Do as much preparation (i.e., getting the proper equipment and software and reading up on it) beforehand so that you can concentrate on the curriculum once it begins. And get a comfortable work chair; you’ll be sitting in it for hundreds of hours.
Ranga: Just do it! You will take your skills to a higher level, be inspired and expand your connections.
For more information on the MPS Digital Photography Department online/summer residency, visit svaonlinedigitalphoto.wordpress.com.
Image: ©2010 Katrin Eismann.