Teaching Dance Online

Posted on 4/30/2020 2:26:36 PM

Holly Boda-Sutton, co-director of the IUP Dance Program and director of IUP Dance Theater, compares teaching dance by distance education to “running the Kentucky Derby while riding Mr. Ed.” But adds: “At least I am running the race! (Doubt my students even know who Mr. Ed is!)” Boda-Sutton was interviewed recently by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about teaching dance online: Colleges move dance classes online in response to COVID-19.

You’ve never taught online before. How are things going?

There have definitely been some bumps along the way, but every day gets easier. I have never sat so much in my life! It takes so many hours at the computer every day just to keep up. Where a significant portion of my informal classroom assessment involved classroom observation of work, I now go through multiple videos to asses and give feedback. I chose to make my courses asynchronous, because I was thinking about students in rural areas with sketchy wifi or internet access, or who might have to share home computer resources with siblings doing online school at set times. I also chose to teach my courses through D2L, so that I could construct my classes in such a manner that we were sharing videos for various assignments. I use Zoom for office hours and for advising. I am extremely glad that I chose asynchronous teaching at this point, as I have had several students who have been affected by the coronavirus and need to do the coursework on a different timetable than the rest of the class.

Holly Boda-Sutton reviewing the choreography of Gabriella Harley, an Interdisciplinary Dance Arts Major.

Holly Boda-Sutton

More about Holly Boda-Sutton

  • Co-Director, IUP Dance Program
  • Director, IUP Dance Theater Company
  • Professor, Choreographer, Performer
  • College of Fine Arts Faculty Mentor, University College
  • MFA, Dance—Texas Woman’s University
  • MEd, Administration—Salisbury State University
  • BS, Business—University of Northern Colorado

Courses Holly Boda-Sutton Teaches

  • DANC 250 Beginning Modern Dance
  • DANC 102 Introduction to Dance
  • DANC 351 Choreography
  • THTR 486 Practicum (Production and Performance)

How did you get ready to deliver your coursework remotely?

The IUP IT personnel were wonderful. I did one morning of D2L training and one morning of Zoom training, and then took the next five days to get my courses ready to start on Monday morning (March 23). I was so thankful that two of my upper level senior dance students and my department chair were extremely helpful assisting me with getting my classes up and going and answering questions when I get stuck.

Your students are used to face-to-face classes in your discipline. How did they react to online delivery?

IUP Student Assistance FundMy students, for the most part, have been wonderful. They let me know if I am not clear enough in the directions for an assignment, if I have forgotten to push or connect one of the bells or whistles in the software to make something accessible, or if they are having trouble with the something in the assignment on their end. Students have been very supportive and helpful to each other and to me.

So, the semester is almost at an end. Any final thoughts?

First, thank goodness for our IT people, and colleagues and students that have a lot of experience with this mode for dissemination of material and information and communication.

I’ve tried as hard as I can to make this an effective learning experience for my students and to meet the course objectives, and I feel that has happened. Everyone understands that we are in the same boat, and we’ve all needed to be patient with one another and with the situation. I’m glad that we were able to continue our coursework—I would have missed my students, and I know they would have missed each other!