A number of art schools, including the Pratt Institute in New York and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, are putting their courses online in a joint effort to make art education more affordable for students.
This type of initiative, known as a massive open online course (MOOC), has become common in some fields, but not—until now—in the arts. “We have to address the issue of how expensive tuition is,” says Ajay Kapur, an associate dean for research and development at the California Institute of the Arts and the founder of Kadenze, a MOOC provider devoted to art education.
Kadenze charges $300 a credit, or $7 a month for non-credit-seeking
students who want evaluations. Anyone can access the curricula for free without receiving grades.
“We can save you one year of tuition, or at least greatly reduce it,” Kapur says. He does not claim that Kadenze can be a substitute for an art school. However, he does believe that foundation and theory-based courses can be taught “even better online than in person”.
But not everyone agrees that introductory courses can be successfully provided online. “Those courses you take in the foundation year aren’t just about information,” says Carol Becker, the dean of Columbia University’s School of the Arts. “People often come to art school because they feel isolated and misunderstood. When you have master teachers and artists talking to young people about their own process, that’s extraordinary.”