Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Musing on Online Classes and Class review: Collect and Create

I just finished up the Amy Tan class, "Collect and Create," offered at Two Peas.  While trying to compose this review of the class, I found myself contemplating why I take online classes because the answer to that will often determine how satisfied I am with a class.  Sometimes I take classes because I want to learn a new skill or new technique.  This is often the case with photography, Photoshop or art journaling classes.  Sometimes I take classes because I want to complete a project.  Many of Shimelle's classes (like Journal Your Christmas, Learn Something New, or I Confess) fit into this category. Other times I take a class because I am looking for inspiration.  I usually do this when I have a project in mind that I want to complete, and I just need a jump start (Shimelle's Pretty Paper Party or Worth a Thousand Words are examples of this). 
When it comes to "Collect and Create," I was mainly looking for inspiration (I won the class in a give-away from Ali Edwards' blog). When I read the description, I thought it would provide me with some good ideas to scrap my backlog of vacation and family pictures from 2011.  The class had five lessons:  each lesson had a PDF (about 20 pages) and a short to very short video (5-10 minutes). The lessons covered using scraps; using favorites; scrapping memorabilia; inspiration; and putting it all together.  On the whole, the materials were very thin.  As an experienced scrapper, I did not encounter any new techniques (the videos on cutting page protectors for memorabilia and creating a background with mists were the best).  Several minutes of the videos were simply Amy Tan flipping through Japanese image books or her Project Life Album.  Reading through the PDF's, I came up with a list of inspiration ideas which I did use. I discussed many of them in my post yesterday, and I would say that the layout up top today came from the "putting it all together" lesson.  But there wasn't anything really new on the list of challenges, and the ideas weren't presented with any real depth.  Frankly, I think I would have gotten as many ideas by going back through the challenges from Shimelle's last on-line crop. So, on the whole, I did not get much out of the class.
I do think the class may be more helpful to a new scrapper or to someone with a different style.  Many of the page examples fall into the category of creating a page that uses A LOT  of embellishments and patterned paper to create a stunning back drop for a single picture.  Although these pages are beautiful to look at and certainly a valid style of scrapping, it is most definitely NOT my style of scrapbooking.  Perhaps if it were, the class would have been more satisfying. 
Finally, let's talk about cost.  For me, it was free.  But the class is priced at $25, which I think is generally about right for an inspiration class.  I think I'm willing to pay more for a technique/skills class or a project class.  However, given the limited content in the class, I think the $25 price tag is too high.
Overall, I would give the class a C+.  That's just my opinion, and I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else who took the class.
I would also be interested in your thoughts on why you take a class and whether that affects how much you're willing to pay for it.  


helena said...

I recently did a design challenge class with 3 short prompts a week and 2 instructors' examples. All of the ideas were ones I'd seen before but I loved the class and created a lot because of the different styles of the examples given and the active class gallery - seeing what others did with a prompt was the source fo the inspiration. I think an active class gallery and discussion is important.

Amy said...

Thank you for a very honest review, it is interesting to hear your thoughts. In truth, I did not know about this class, but it is not one I would take.
I think a lot of online classes are priced too high, the class I am taking at the moment, with an extremely high profile instructor, has not delivered with content beyond the sign up pdf and video. The class is inspiring and I am finding I am enjoying the process - but, it is through self motivation rather than instructor led information.

I am probably opening myself up to massive criticism from my comments - I think I was expecting more and it has not delivered, especially when I compare to other journaling focused classes I have taken before.

Karen said...

Many of your reasons for taking a class are my reasons too. I participate in LSNED and JYC to try to get a project done (failed for the last two years on JYC so have come to the conclusion that perhaps this is not for me in 2012). I like classes that teach me something new and am seriously considering taking a class over on 2 peas called Through the Kaleidoscope with Amy Heller as it appears to be a class with lots of colour and she is someone whose classes I have never taken before. It is a self paced class I can pick it up and put it down without feeling pressured to get it finished.

scrappyjacky said...

I think I take classes for similar reasons.....and,like Amy, often feel they are overpriced.
I love Shimelle's classes because they are very reasonably priced,have masses of content and a great forum which is always full of additional inspiration....so even learning only a little new stuff still means they are great value.
I love Christy Tomlinson's classes....again they have a massive amount of content....but I do object to the fact that you can only access them for a limited time.....at the price I feel they should be available forever.
$30 is the most I am prepared [or can afford] to pay for a class.

Sian said...

Interesting stuff! I think I probably take online classes to connect with other scrapbookers. If there were local technique classes available to me I'd probably give those those a go. I'm not especially interested in classes with a lot of video material - I prefer PDf's to pick up and put down at will and to read at bedtime!

Melissa said...

I always enjoy the honesty of your class reviews. I take classes for inspiration, challenges, and to learn new techniques. I also enjoy the interaction with other scrappers. I, too, like to use several photos on a page and really like your layout here, lots of photos & a nice clean look.

Irene said...

I have not taken on-line classes yet. Don't know if I ever will because I prefer to be in a room setting where I can interact with other people.

Karen said...

I'm always interested in your reviews. I would say your list of reasons for enrolling in a class pretty well match mine. I'm willing to pay more for a photography class than a paper crafting class, and with only one exception have always felt they were well worth the money. I recently took two classes through Studio Calico (love their kits) and felt that both were very "thin" when it came to the class material. I probably won't take another class through them. Interestingly, one of them was with Amy Tan. I'm really enjoying Ali Edward's 31 Things right now. I'm happy to get these stories on paper, mostly for my family.

Alison said...

I have to confess to only having ever participated in some of Shimelle's classes...I like that her material is available to get back to when the time is right.
Alison xx

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I have similar reasons for taking classes. JYC is a specific project for me, so is LSNED. I;m taking Ali's 31 Things class right now mostly for motivation to get back to scrapping & while it is doing that, I do think it was a tad overpriced, not much, maybe $5-7 but that's mostly because there seems to be less instructor interaction than I was expecting. It's a great class & I am enjoying it but for the money I was expecting a bit more.

The Mann Fam said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the classes you have been taking. I have found them to be very interesting. Right now I doing Ali Edwards 31 class. It falls into the writing category of classes. Enjoying the daily prompts but don't think it is totally worth the cost.

Jennifer Grace said...

Hi Rinda, Thanks for your comments on my review of Through the Kaleidoscope. I was actually inspired to review it because I'd read this review of yours before. I should have mentioned that in my post before, sorry I didn't think of it when typing it up, but I've just added a link back to this review in my post now.

Thanks for inspiring me to write about something different!

I was planning to come back and comment on this post after trying the class for a bit, as I'd just got it when I read this post. I think I'd like to try a lot more online classes, but I can't afford them really. I need the money for supplies! Right now I'd like to try Studio Calico's summer stamping school, I think the $29 price sounds reasonable when it includes a stamp set shipped anywhere in the world. I also want to try a photography class as I'd love to learn more photography. I really like getting the new inspiration!