For Sydney Yeager, teaching drawing online means getting a closer look from afar

With initial hurdles to teaching art online now figured out, some benefits emerge


Google Classroom has been a godsend these past few months for artist Sydney Yeager. As an adjunct faculty member at Austin Community College, she had no choice but to move her drawing classes online when students were unable to return to campus after spring break.

It was a first for Yeager, who has taught at ACC for over 30 years; she has only ever known a traditional classroom setting. Google and Zoom were clever tools meant for a younger generation, not her. But that all changed halfway through last semester.

“I was just watching a Guggenheim live presentation, and even they could not get it to work, with people from all over the world watching,” she chuckles.

Yeager quickly figured it out (with the help of an ACC tech whiz), and is now teaching a four-week summer intensive, equipped with a set of new e-tips and tricks.

She has taken a hybrid approach to remote learning, with both synchronous (real-time group videos) and asynchronous (self-paced assignments) offerings. A 30-minute group chat at the beginning of each class allows for questions as well as quick updates on everyone’s works in progress. Keeping it brief is key, Yeager says.

Students have expressed their liking of this new virtual classroom. It’s less disruptive, for instance, and gives them more time and independence to work on their own. Plus it’s easier to set up a workstation at home and just leave it for whenever, rather than schlep everything to class.

Related: “Sydney Yeager — A willingness to take what is immediately given”

Another silver lining? Yeager says Google Classroom allows her to zoom in with a different sort of focus.

“The whole class looks closely at each image now, one at a time on the screen as opposed to a critique when their attention is more diffuse,” she explains.

“Now they can pay more attention to the details.”


Barbara Purcell
Barbara Purcell
Barbara Purcell is an arts and culture writer based in Austin. She is the author of Black Ice: Poems (Fly by Night Press, 2006). In addition to Sightlines, her work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Canadian Art, Glasstire, and Tribes Magazine. She is a graduate of Skidmore College.

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