Continuing Education Craft Classes Suffering from Low Attendance

Continuing Education Cuts

Are Online Video Tutorials Responsible for this Shift?

As you can see by the headline that was clipped from a local newspaper in my area just a couple of weeks ago, the School Districts are making cuts to Continuing Education programs. No more guitar lessons, sushi making 101 instruction or craft classes!

A few years ago, news like this would have been a huge blow to me personally. That’s because I was teaching a wide variety of craft classes including tile mosaic, painted wine glasses, handmade paper, tea bag folding, and more.

I taught 3 nights a week plus Saturdays in 13 different School Districts. It was my livelihood at the time, and I enjoyed it very much. But as the kids got older, it became difficult to balance the night school routine with all the stuff that comes with raising a family.

If you want to read more about that part of my life, have a look at this article: Lessons Learned From Craft Classes Back in the 90′s

The cutbacks happening at many Continuing Education districts across the country, are primarily due to low student enrollment. With the birth of online video, it a sign of the times. I know this because of comments that come in all the time like these…

I like that I can view your home tutor videos at any time from the comfort of my home, in any order. ~Roberta

One of the reasons I like to take classes is to learn all the tips that you normally don’t see in books. Your tutorials are a way of taking a class without having to leave home! ~Katina

Also, the accessibility of online video has opened up many doors for those who: (1) Can’t fit night school into their busy schedules; (2) Prefer not to head out or drive at night for safety reasons (I was once followed to my car in a dark parking lot, but luckily the man was frightened off by a passerby!); (3) Live in rural areas without access to continuing education  facilities; or (4) Are homebound due to chronic illnesses.

Cindy I really love your videos. I live in a rural area where I don’t have access to workshops, so I really appreciate your workshop-like videos. Thank you! ~Karen

I must add that your videos are worth MORE than every penny a membership costs.  Especially to me.  I live in a very rural area and your tutes make me feel as if I am visiting your studio without leaving my own home. Well done, and thanks. ~Sue

I am chronically ill so it is hard for me to attend a class. People like you make it possible for me to enjoy doing crafts that I might otherwise not get to do. ~Zoe

Affordability and ongoing support are other key factors that caused me to embrace the use of online video as a teaching medium.

Live event classes can be wonderful for meeting up with people and making friends. But they are expensive to host and to attend. Students at my night school classes had to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 each, for just a couple of hours with me. And there was no way for them to be able to get follow up support after the class was over.

With my online polymer clay videos, you get access to me for under $4 per month… which includes weekly lessons plus access to a VERY supportive online community at the blog. I absolutely love the way Internet video makes tutoring so affordable!

I’m a newbie to polymer clay, I’ve been a beader for a couple of years – taken several wire/beading classes. It is SO much fun getting the email each week… it’s like opening a present EVERY WEEK! ~Linda

A year ago I never would have thought that a blog community would become so special to me. Thank you Cindy for everything! ~Marsha

One last downside to note, that can happen with some students at live events, is the intimidation factor… either from other students, time constraints, or from teachers that perhaps should not really be teaching.

I am such a newbie!! Even though I have taken a couple of classes locally, the instructor went so fast trying to cram as much into the time as possible… I was overwhelmed and truthfully don’t remember all that much. ~Names Edited Out for Privacy

A few months ago I took a beginner polymer clay bead making class with a local artist and we quickly made a leaf cane. It was just an overview and my cane was terrible. I’m looking forward to actually learning how to do it through your online tutorials! ~Names Edited Out for Privacy

What I love about your library videos is your wonderful down-to-earth, chatting-with-a-friend attitude. Your depth of knowledge comes through, but it’s in a quiet way that I appreciate. It leaves me feeling encouraged, not intimidated (as many experts often make me feel). Thank you so much for being there! ~Linda

So please tell me what is happening with craft class events and continuing education in your area? Are you noticing a decline or is it still the same? Or maybe it’s growing?

I’m REALLY interested in hearing your opinions on the topics discussed in this article. What do you like or dislike about live event classes? Same question for online video classes. Did I hit on all the key points? Or is there something that you’d like to add?

When it comes time for me to do some more live event stuff, is that something that you would see yourself attending? Any suggestions on best places to do live events? Guilds, shows, cruises, tropical destinations :-)   I’ll sign off with a couple more quotes specifically about live events. Maybe they will give you some ideas to expand on in the comments section.

You will be able to see pictures of our Camp Pinerock retreat at our guild web site. We do clay for 4 days. It’s fun, wish you could join us. ~Bonnie

I would love the chance to spend a few days in the shadows of Cindy and her clay. If you ever hold Personal classes I want to be one of the first to know. If possible I am already there. THANK YOU CINDY AND YOUR HUBBY TOO!! Eager for more. ~Peggy

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor


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Comments

  1. I would love to see you at a live event. Wish our guild here was big enough to have you; there are only 3-4 of us. Affordability would be the key for me, something like a cruise or tropical location would not be an option. Personally, if I went on a cruise I would want I would want to be enjoying the cruise destinations and be doing cruise things like swimming with dolphins.
    I prefer a more rustic setting where I can get into the zone, commune with nature and escape into my happy place; preferable no TV and no cell phones. Definately must have an indoor plumbing.

  2. I used to do ceramics, and was very good at it, but the store closed because she wasn’t making any money anymore. I really think this trend can be blamed on more of a shift away from the arts in general. Arts programs are being cut in the schools at an alarming rate to focus more on the sciences and mathematics so we can “catch up” with the rest of the world, but all we’re creating is a souless generation that while being able to caculate pi out to the nth decimal, won’t be able to see the beauty of the world right in front of their noses.

  3. Well said Ken. I agree wholeheartedly! That is why I have always kept craft and art materials around for my kids and for thier friends when they came over. And now I have them for my grandchildren and the children of friends. When they come over they always have some little prize to take home that they can proudly say they made themselves! They are always so eager to learn and thier imaginations are amazing! I hope if this trend in the schools continues that the moms and grandmoms out there will pick up the slack the way my mom and gramma did when I was young. We didnt have much more than crayons when I went to school. But I always had wood scraps and such from my grampa. And I had beads and buttons and fabric from my gramma. And my mom got me paints and colored pencils. All I had to do was supply the imagination. And boy did I. I think kids will always find a way to express themselves. But without a little guidance it isnt always in such good ways. I hope enough of us will step up to the plate and fill in the inexcusable gaps being left by the present school systems. In music, arts and in physical areas like sports and dance. So we wont end up with a souless or worse generation. As for online classes? I agree with all the points made in favor of them. They are a great way to reach a wider audience and learn skills that might otherwise be limited to a small local area. Like pysanky eggs from Poland or Ukraine. Or Japanese paper folding. But I also support local artisans who want to share their skills on a personal level too. Wether it is with retreats or small classes taught at home or even at art and craft fairs. However it gets out there, I think it is important that we all keep sharing. So the skills and the pleasures of creating wont be lost for future artists. XOXO Jamie
    .

  4. I have very fond memories of visiting my grandmother and doing crafts with her. She was one of those “artista” scattered types that always had unfinished projects all over the house (something I unfortunately inherited from her, I might add). Additionally, she spoke 6 languages fluently, wrote plays and was a nurse in WW1 and a simultaneous translator in WW2. I always had a great time with her – baking, doing projects with yarn, paper, etc. I am positive she would have loved polymer clay and wish she had lived to see it in all of its infinite glory. I clay in her loving memory :)
    .

  5. Dear Cindy,

    I have to say I absolutely enjoy your videos. I have highly recommended them to others as I truly find them beneficial. In fact I took a class a week prior to purchasing your course and was a little overwhelmed by so much information. The instructor was wonderful but it is just so much information to take in one day. After signing up with your online course, it was a pleasant refresher of the class and made even more sense now that I heard it twice – and more if needed! I like the way your explain things and I always look forward to the next week. Someday I hope to purchase older ones. I look forward to future tutorials – can’t wait to see what is next!

    Thanks again,

    Lori Newman

  6. @Anna: A rustic retreat sounds wonderful! Would like to do something like that someday. Will keep my self open to the opportunity should it present itself.

    @Ken: I agree about the importance of the arts in the school system. Creativity develops the brain in ways that other disciplines do not. You know this and I know this, but unfortunately many other parents, teachers and politicians do not, so the funding gets cut. As a parent, I try to make sure the kids are being exposed as much as possible to all things creative. Music, art, dance, etc. I think it has benefited them greatly. My hope is that the powers that be will eventually understand the arts are as important to the development of a great country as all the other disciplines and stop cutting it from the education system, when times get tough!

    @Jamie: Like I just said to Ken, if the system doesn’t support the arts like they should then we must as the caregivers of the next generation. That is fantastic what you are doing for your grandchildren and their friends! If only there were more people like you!

    @Maria: I love your story Maria! What wonderful memories you must have of your ‘artista’ grandmother! I bet she would love what can be done with polymer clay. You are a great woman to be continuing on her artistic legacy!

    @Lori: Thank you so much for taking the time to write those very kind words. Sharing feedback like this really gives others great insight about what they can expect from the course and the video tutorials. I truly appreciate your help!

  7. I don’t believe that on line video is the culprit I know that students take classes for many other reasons and the personal, hands on factor is very important (like listening to a record or attending a concert). I believe that the economic conditions have MUCH to do with the drop in attendance…I also think that it is hard to find a really qualified teacher in times when people are trying to claim expertise just to make a few bucks….just my opinion.

  8. Thanks Rita for your opinion. I love opinions! Completely agree with you on how difficult it is to find qualified teachers. You bring up a great point! Based on your experience in taking live classes, could you please describe what you look for in a good teacher? Or what your definition of a great teacher would be? Opinion away :)

  9. Cindy,
    I have to say I love your site and your lessons. Not only do you have a fantastic base of knowledge but it gives me inspiration and motivation to continue. I was an art student as my first college experience and then, out of necessity for a living and a stumbled upon calling, I went into nursing. Now I work 40+ hours, evenings and weekends (when most of these classes take place) so I was unbelievably discouraged because I had no connection with other artists, especially when my main medium was oil on canvas. Then one day my mother was in town and somehow I decided I would make beads for her jewelry-making hobby. She bought me a pretty good amount of clay and some supplies to start me out… of course I knew nothing about PC or bead-making but I had determination and the internet. That was 11 months ago and now I have you and all these fabulous people. I can’t tell you what it means to me, my techniques have improved, my motivation is out-of-this-world, and now I feel connected to others who have the same passions.
    Thanks,
    Melinda

  10. Melinda I was very touched by your comment. Your story is one that everyone here can probably relate to. When you have a passion inside and it is temporarily set aside for ‘life’ and work and other things, nothing feels more invigorating and inspiring than letting that passion resurface again. I am so glad that polymer clay has become that passion for you and feel honored to be part of the journey. You are a wonderful asset to this community. I hope you always feel connected to like minds here! :-)

    ** Everyone, if you haven’t yet checked out Melinda’s Jupiter Beads, click the link by my name to go see them!

  11. Cindy – here’s my comment that I wrote in an email to you about the lack of available teaching in my area –

    ‘It is so thrilling to see so many people getting into and enjoying all the variations of polymer clay – isn’t it? I think having great teachers like yourself is what is needed everywhere. I was devastated to learn that they quit teaching it in Red Deer. They only teach cake decorating now! I would have to travel to Calgary to take a lesson – so why bother? I enjoyed my instructional videos from you so much and now that I am (finally) finished my sewing project for my brother I can sit down and review those videos again and then join the members library! Wowza! I’m so excited!’

  12. Thanks so much for adding your comment to this thread Aims (and for your kind words). I really appreciate it! It’s really nice to hear about small communities like Red Deer that are close to home for me. My family is all from Rocky Mountain House and I’ve been to Red Deer many times as a child.

    FYI for anyone else looking in… this is Alberta talk :) Hmmm… now you’re probably wondering where the heck is Alberta LOL.

  13. I’m Suzi, the owner of a new Yahoo group called craft_classes_ads. I’d like to invite you to advertise your really cool classes! What novel ideas you have… at least the way YOU do it! Impressive!

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