7 Tips for Cultivating Empathy and Community in Your College Classroom
Hey fellow educators (& Beyond)!
We are now flowing into week #5 of the Spring 2023 semester -> a belated welcome back!
While there’s aways a lot to catch up on, let’s keep reminding ourselves of the power of patience.
Let’s keep in mind that our students, colleagues, and campus communities need us now more than ever. Whether you’re teaching one course or seven, there are a few keywords to keep in mind:
“patience, empathy, compassion, creativity, accessibility, inclusion, and community”
Here are a few suggestions to help you create a positive and productive learning environment:
Remember that there’s no room for ego in teaching. Make patience, compassion, empathy, and understanding your mantra. Your energy is contagious, so set a positive tone from the start. Regularly express your gratitude, excitement, appreciation, and enthusiasm for teaching and learning with your students – that positive energy will spread like wildfire!
Acknowledge that your course(s) have the potential to be a unique and powerful learning experience, far beyond the specific content you’ll be covering. We’re all human beings coming together in this shared space and time, and there’s always something we can learn from one another. Keep an open mind and heart, and embrace the diversity of perspectives in your classroom.
Your class is a community, and it’s up to you to help foster that sense of unity. Use the first few classes to get to know your students and encourage them to get to know each other. What are their passions, concerns, and ambitions? Regularly revisit how they work together to achieve their goals!
Collaboration is key – make your course a platform for community building. Encourage your students to share their ideas and work together to create something new. You’ll be amazed by the creativity and innovation that emerges from a truly collaborative learning environment.
Remember, our students have so much to teach us. Each of them brings unique experiences, insights, and perspectives to the table. Make sure to listen and learn from them – you’ll be amazed by what you discover.
Don’t waste your first class reading the entire syllabus – always start by connecting with your students on a human level. Learn their names, share stories, and make that vital connection that sets the tone for a positive and productive semester.
Finally, make sure your course materials are accessible and inclusive. In 2023, there’s no excuse for a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Make sure your audio and video content includes transcripts and closed captions. Use high-contrast visuals and add alt-text to images for screen reader access. And most importantly, ask your students what they need to best receive the teaching materials. Your campus has resources to help you with this, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Remember, teaching is a journey and a constant work in progress. We’re all in this together.
By prioritizing patience, empathy, compassion, creativity, accessibility, inclusion, and community, you’ll set yourself and your students up for successful and fulfilling semesters!
The NET-Art Website is pleased to share: “Scott Rummler – Frequency Based Art”
“Artist makes painting that can’t be photographed, breaks blockchain.”
Scott Rummler has developed a frequency-based painting style that breaks with the major concepts underlying visual art and digital representation.
The works are minimalist white paintings but emit frequencies that create a rainbow of colors when viewed though a digital camera. As a result, each photograph of the same painting looks different. The work breaks the 1:1 relationship between object and image that is fundamental to a wide variety of artistic and scientific disciplines.
They can even sometimes change the settings on mobile phone cameras – without causing any damage.
Photographs of the paintings break new conceptual ground in digital NFT art. They are registered in an unbreakable ledger – but because the physical paintings don’t have a consistent digital appearance, they ‘escape’ its technical confines. So they are part of the blockchain while simultaneously breaking it.
Rummler developed the technique, which has to do with the complex interaction of paint, light, and perception, with input from visual science PhDs at RIT.
He uses paint rollers – a very common item that’s never been considered in the realm of fine art. But it has the key qualities Rummler was looking for.
“When I hit on the rollers I knew right away it was what I had been looking for. It’s the simplest and most familiar, and also the least artsy and most radical. Ultimately it’s the most profound too, because we’re talking about a circular, time-based technique that turns the fundamentals of pictorial composition upside-down,” he says.
“During Covid, I came upon the idea that art is the one thing you have to see in person. So why not make paintings that can’t be photographed so you have to see them in person? I wanted to create art that transcends the limits on what a gallery should be, and what technology, vision, and art can be.”
Frequencies have been used for centuries by Eastern medicine – and more recently by Nikola Tesla and modern technologists.
But for Rummler, it’s all about the art.
“Art has always been about frequencies. There is something unique and transformative that can’t be easily captured. I’m simply highlighting that fact.”
We got a chance to ask Scott a few extra questions during our interactions via e-mail:
Net-Art: Who are some of your favorite artists through out history – pre-1990? Who are some of your favorite artist post-1990? What stands out about their work that compels and inspires you?
Scott: Pre-1990 I would say Vermeer and also Rothko. Two very different artists, but they were the only ones whose work impacted me so profoundly that I was overwhelmed and had to walk away. Post-1990 lately it’s been Dan Flavin. He was a friend of an artist I knew, Michael Venezia, and he worked with light. I guess I got back to my roots a bit and he became more top of mind. Other than that I would say guerrilla type artists, particularly those that resisted conformity when the mandates got a bit out of hand here in NYC.
Net-Art: With more and more technologies becoming both accessible and immediate, do you think that applied artists will eventually venture into integrating digital technologies into their work?
Scott: Art should transcend any particular medium. Digital will continue to adopted at a slow but steady pace. The big change may come when we see a new system of art, galleries, and museums. I saw a bit of that in the 80’s with Mary Boone and the East Village, and more recently with NFT art. But it hasn’t really happened yet. The financial side of art has been a bit obscure, or even dodgy at times, and the media coverage sometimes borders on propaganda, so maybe those things have to change.
Net-Art: Do you collect the work art of other artists, if so, what is the most recent piece that you have added to your collection?
Scott: I don’t collect art. I live a very minimalist lifestyle, my place is like a bunker! But I feel like I’m ready for a change.
Net-Art: Do you have a defining story or moment where knew that you were or had become an artist? Can you reflect on this and share a story with us?
Scott: My first art professor, Archie Miller, was a bit acerbic, and he didn’t give me very good grades, so I assumed he thought I was an idiot, but I volunteered to help him make the Fred and Ginger sculpture that is in Rochester, NY on Scio Street. When I told him I was thinking of becoming an art major, he said “The world doesn’t need any more artists. But maybe you feel like it’s something you have to do.”
I said “Yes, that’s the case.”
I found out later he thought I was one of his best students, so I guess that was his way of motivating me. Since then, any time I had really good – or really bad – news, he was the one I called. Should have called more often though [he died not too long ago].
We will all face times in our lives where we must shed a role, identity and perception of ourself that we no longer are.. Perhaps that metamorphosis can be intentionally induced through a form of creative metaphoric narrative? The medium may be generated through meditation, a gaming engine, animation, video and the written word. That is one small formula, this is my attempt to integrate and simulate such a thing…
The “pieces” in the exhibition contain a series of written passages, looping animations and aesthetically stylized videos. The artwork as a whole is soundless. I believe that there is great depth and beauty in soundlessness. It is an overlooked medium and energy source that hearing people take for granted. The intention of the soundlessness is to provoke the viewer to go inside of themselves and connect to that pending emotional state that needs to be faced. But “how” does one know once it has shed a self-perception of themselves?
That evidence can only arrive through a metric of “time” spent in new and contrasting experiences..
The NET-ART 2022 – 2023 academic calendar is now accepting submissions on a rolling proposal basis in the following criteria:
Electronic Media / Experimental Pedagogy
VIDEO ART / Experimental Film
NET-ART (Works created in and displayed in a web browser)
Class / Course Collaboration
Digital & Analog ZINEs
Curatorial (A Curated Group Exhibition)
Related “Otherness” pitched to us
Looking for useful tools, apps & tutorials to get your submission started?CLICK HERE!
Looking for examples of “what” has been submitted previously? Explore here!
The NET-ART Submission Guidelines:
Submissions may be generated by CUNY faculty, students of all levels, alumni & community members. CUNY classes/courses may also submit collaborative proposals as a group. CUNY faculty & students may also collaborate with others from outside of CUNY as well.
All submitted works will be featured and published as individual blog posts as well as added to existing galleries on the NET-ART website.
Depending on the submission’s proposal, relevant and in context, various submissions will be published and exhibited as an individual page created specifically for the project.
All submissions should be described in written detail with a clear vision, context and meaning. Supporting images and links should be provided as well.
Authors of the submissions and their collaborators must be willing to participate, respond to comments and expand upon their projects with incoming queries via the commons, twitter and beyond.
The purpose of exhibiting submissions in various categories displays a platform for creative and experimental methods of pedagogy. Please consider how your work will contribute to a larger whole that will be archived for teaching, learning, reference and posterity.
We anticipate your submissions!
Question, Proposals & Submissions can be sent via e-mail or via Twitter to:
Allow me to introduce my first post of the new year: “Creative Fun for the NEW Commons Website!”
That’s right, the commons has launched its long awaited update! Its awesome!
Have you checked it out yet? This post is a good place to start if you haven’t. Its very informative and helpful. Not to mention down right inspiring, (you will recognize some of the GIFs and Illustrations, wink wink wink..) I’m always excited to talk about the commons! Im lucky to be a sub-committee member, thats right, I signed up, got hooked, and now they cant get rid of me, and my GIFS!
Lets have some fun talking about the new site and the commons itself, shall we?
But wait, can this blog post be used as pedagogy? Can it be a class assignment example in disguise? Does a blog post have the ability to tell a story? A compelling one… hmmm, lets see..
I’m here to serve, share, learn, revise, connect, contribute, participate and evolve in this wonderful open-source space. I have been teaching a series of my CUNY classes between BMCC and York College via the commons for many years now, I have also created the open-source course from which you are reading this blog post. The fact is, the commons is a brilliant space that is awaiting your energy. It’s a free invitation to break free of anything default (like those prehistoric departmental templates!) Its time to tap into your “highest-creative-pedagogical-self”, (that’s right, that’s a thing now) and let that light been seen here.
There are so many ways to approach this!
Building a course website, portfolio or creating a group on the commons offers many options, and there is so much context to explore.. What do you want to create or experiment with? What would you like share, archive, organize, facilitate or help with? That’s just a starting a point of course. When I first started generating content here I created this site “The NET-Art Site” for fun as an example of the “ideal course” that I would “one day” love to teach… I’m very serious. It is not an actual 3 credit course at BMCC or York college, but it has become something so much more as both of those courses benefit from and contribute to the content. It’s an OPEN resource full of use-value in context to all of my teaching. Its worth way more than 3 credits, I mean, its like 100,000 teaching-karma-credits that gets legacy attached to it! (as sinister music drones into the background…. Im kidding, but then again..) What I’m trying to share is, I simply jumped in. I started making and sharing, creating opportunities and reaching out to others. Things took off and quickly began to shape just by starting and not worrying about how it would be received. The commons community supported it 1000%! Since then, we have collaborated with the NYPL and several other campuses on various projects, including workshops at the GC on graphic design & “play in the classroom” )and a cross-college collab with Gallaudet University.
As the new site was being built, especially in the final stages, I asked if I could help and contribute by making some visual promotional items. I kind of solidified my presence with the subcommittee as an artist and a rouge “GIF maker”.. well, ok, maybe I’m not that rouge but I love to make GIFS! Either way, it all started on a website here on the commons. I was riding the coat tails of my buddy and mentor MBS, who is the one who introduced me to the commons in the first place! I was hooked right away! This was back in 1977! (which was really 2010-ish but in 2022 year consciousness it feels that long ago!) Anyway, sheesh, I offered to help bring some of the new branding imagery and items to life. A perfect opportunity to contribute and also use the content for pedagogy. Thats right, this blog post becomes yet another example of the potential of how the commons can be used. As well as the potential to share how things can always expand as we place our energy into it. I teach Digital Storytelling at York College. (I love the course so much!) A large portion of the course work is creating a digital identity, learning how to blog and challenge the creative potentials of what a blog post can be. Can it be a vehicle for change, self-expression, self-transformation, activism, empathy, teaching, learning, compassion and creativity all at once? CT-101 students will surely find out as soon as they read this!
Well? Are you not enjoying this? Make a list of words that come to mind, take action and leave them in the comments section below, I’d be happy to help you get started if you need or want that kind of a push.
Lets give the whole commons team a big big round of applause! I have to say, they really nailed it! The new website is beautiful. Do you remember the old site? I mean, I do miss it a lil, its nostalgia, and all of the late 1990’s feels of those underground style blogs (kidding, kidding, kinda!) I really love the rebranding here. The new site has solved a lot of UX/UI and accessibility issues very effectively. The lighter color palette and integration of clean icons, page formatting, sections, and those light gestural lines makes one’s arrival to the site welcoming and inviting. It helps the visitor navigate effortlessly to where they want go, which may be intentional right away, but it also provokes exploration. I’m excited for my new students to get started this semester! What do you like most about the new site?
I hope that you are enjoying the GIFs and Illustrations as you read through this post. The post is getting a bit wordy and Im known to go off on tangents… stop me! My ambition was to induce some retro-feelings and imagery as metaphors to show the lineage of our Internet experiences. I started teaching college in 2002! I’m at my twenty year mark and this is my 40th semester teaching. (What!?) I actually had that flip phone used above in the illustration, as well as showing course content with slide projectors and VHS tapes! I had to represent VHS! As much as I love all things modern tech, I miss those analog days, and the clunky hardware that came along with it. I know that our friends at Reclaim Hosting agree! The beauty of technology is its ability to unite and connect us through access and inclusiveness. The new site works great on mobile devices now too! The commons has helped me find and meet so many other like minded people doing such cool things. The pandemic slowed the “IRL” experiences but the digital connections strengthened, our overall reach extended and our friendships prevailed. So, in essence the art works are about connection, togetherness and our collective awareness..
Thanks for reading along and checking it out!
Feel free to get in touch and say hello! Im easy to find here on the commons as well as on the web!
2021, Digital Illustration & Animated GIF by Ryan Seslow
A series of two new art-works, 1 animated and 1 static.. its time for a another reactive / reflective writing assignment. Let us view and reflect upon the art work below. The artist has left us with his intention about the work, but does that “add up” for you? What do you see? Let’s first break down the objective aspects of the images and then move on to the subjective and less formal meaning, shall we?
1. The Legacy – The Forever Animated Loop of the Ego..
2. The Preserved – The Forever Static Preservation of the Ego..
The concept of the artwork is derived from our ego-centric human thinking..
We all want to believe that our individual “ideas” are original, unique and new.. We want to leave a legacy here on this planet.. and we want to make this happen over and over again. We want to believe that we are unique but also a part of the oneness of this world. We grapple with this, especially as artists. Deep down, we know the truth, that all ideas are built by an energetic collective continuum of the creative human potential.. everything is a remix. This series aims to capture the illusion of this statement as a single idea, contained and persevered both static and looped, living on forever..
Above: (click the image to enlarge)The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea, The Legacy, 2021, Animated GIF
2. Above: (click the image to enlarge) The Legacy & Preservation of an Original Idea,The Preserved, 2021, Digital Illustration
Here are some things that you can do to help spread Deaf awareness at your campus, in your department, in your school, classroom, work place, community and beyond. This post has context. I’m a Deaf and Hard of Hearing digital art & design professor teaching here in CUNY (and beyond). This post is about representation, advocacy and awareness. We still have a lot of work to do to. Communication and language is our birthright! I made this series of animated GIFs to help you see how creativity can play a role in the facilitating of awareness. Lets jump in.
This month you can help spread awareness about Deaf culture, what does it means to be Deaf & Hard of Hearing (HofH) and experiencing the various spectrums of hearing loss. You can get involved and be proactive, here are a few ways to take-action, and by all means, SHARE THIS WIDELY!
What is it like to Deaf? Check out this video! (you can also use a search engine by asking the same question for more results and examples) Here is 1 of many many many examples.
Understanding comes through Awareness, lets dig in: even awareness takes practice!
1. Learning, Sharing and Informing your Family, Friends, Colleagues and Students:
First, spread the word by sharing this post! Simply talking about Deaf Awareness Month is a great start. Let other people know by reaching out. This can easily take place in a department meeting, in the classroom, via a group e-mail or by creating an event or meet up to discuss. In your department, reach out to the Human Resources office and ask about the resources your campus offers. This may mean connecting to a specific person in charge or the office of accessibility / disabilities on or off the premises. If there aren’t any current resources, (and sadly, there may not be) then it is time to create them! Don’t forget to reach out to your librarians! (They are the most awesome resource (and awesome in general 🙂 and can help!) Let this post be a guide and a starting point. Again, awareness is everything, and awareness desires to always expand!
Obviously, the Internet is filled with tons of resources, here are a few to help get you started and inspired!:
1. Learn A Sign Language: It’s time to learn a sign language! Here in the USA we use ASL, also known as American Sign Language. ASL is beautiful! It is an official foreign language. Even learning the basics of fingerspelling and the ASL alphabet goes a very long way.
I’m a big fan of smartphone applications like:The ASL App
There are a lot of options! Choose one and get started!
Above: Now you know how to finger-spell ” BROOKLYN” in the American Sign Language Alphabet 🙂
For those of you here in NYC (and beyond as remote classes are now fully in place) I highly recommend taking classes atthe Sign Language Center– they are so wonderful! I am a student there and cant say enough about how great they are!
SeveralCUNYcolleges (and private colleges) also offer ASL classes at the beginner level (did you know that?) Take a peek at your local college’s course catalog or do a search for ASL / the name of your college, online. Many are offered online!
3. Join orCreate a Sign Language Group: All colleges and university campuses have an allotted “club-hours” time each week for clubs on campus (and now remotely as many of us work, teach and attend classes from home.) Does your campus already have a Sign Language group or club? Inquire! If not, perhaps you can use the club-hours time to form an ASL club and practice learning Sign Language together. Learning with a friend or a group of people is a great way to inspire, encourage and motivate each other.
4.Support! Reach out to your local Deaf & Hard of Hearing Communities: This means, People, Businesses, Organizations and Groups! Once again, by reaching out to your campus HR dept. and or office of disabilities / accessibility and make an inquiry about how to get involved and who the contact names are for various groups, communities, events and businesses. Reach out!
5. Creativity – Go on and Create Something to Express Yourself: I made most of the animations in this post specifically for Deaf Awareness Month. You can get creative too! This can be done individually or in your classroom, it can be done with your department and fellow faculty members, administrators and staff. Collaborate! Make a sign, make a flyer, make a poster or a digital illustration. Hang them up around your department offices and in your classrooms online and offline. Get creative! Im going to be launching a multi-campus wide project soon to bring further awareness, I will be reaching out to YOU!
6. Closed Captions, Accessibility & Inclusion – (THIS MEANS YOU!) – It is time to caption your videos and video meetings, yes, all of them! Its long overdue, its time to be inclusive and to provide accessibility for all. From now on, use ONLY a video conferencing application that has live and real time captions. Record your videos with captioning and make transcriptions available.There are so many platforms available today that work really well, they all provide transcripts and or the ability to record the video with captions. Zoom, REV, Google Meet, Skype, & MS Teams are just a few to name. This is the perfect month to take action and make the necessary changes, updates and adaptations so that all communication is inclusive and accessible. As a college professor teaching all of my courses remotely this semester, I have been using Zoom with the REV add-on for live and real time captions (I am 100% dependent on captions). I find that these two tools together work best for me and my disability. The captioning is fast and consistent while Zoom gives me the ability to see all of my students and select how I want to see the speaker/speakers in a full composite meeting. Yes, I lip and speech read! When I record my classes, I automatically record the captions and also produce an audio and text transcription.
Would you like to see more Ryan Seslow art surrounding Accessibility awareness?
Please feel free to add to this series of resources in the comments section below! Thank you!
Contact me! Want to learn more, chat, connect and create some kind of an awareness based creative project with your students, class or faculty members? I’m here to help! e-mail here – email@example.com
Early June, 2021, A new series of Digital Illustrations & Animated GIFs
(This post is an adaptation from my personal website, it has context here as it serves as an example and prompt for reflective writing about one’s process. How may you turn this into an assignment?)
Welcome to yet another new series of art works! Let’s talk about how they come together while we appreciate them, shall we? I have always felt that writing about my process itself is a very helpful way for me retain it and expand upon it. I always find myself inspired by the process itself, so why just narrate it inside my own head… I like to share, as you know! Lets examine, how did this series start? Where does it all come from? Where will it go? What am discovering in the process that I should make a note of? Let’s take a look. Im a big fan of open education and learning from others, I hope this post can help you! Scroll down and take in these first two illustrations.
“The Untitled Minimal Setting”, 2021 Digital Illustration
“The Untitled Minimal Setting II”, 2021 Digital Illustration
The two images above really fueled this whole series below. I know, that may seem strange, but this is what may happen sometimes with process. Sometimes I simply create an arbitrary “scene / setting” first, but it was really through some random experimenting this time. I knew that I wanted to work in monotones and play with some single color values. The trees in the illustrations above came as ready made graphic assets. It is a part of a photoshop brush plug-in set that I found online, (there are tons of free brush tool plug-ins out there for photoshop..) I applied the tree as a solid color image into a flat landscape that I made and duplicated it to use as a shadow on the ground. I then added a gradient overlay to the tree’s layer and I duplicated the trees and the shadows as layers. I placed them all into the composition. I made a few other variations of this scene but these two above are my favorites. This was all done in adobe photoshop.
I now knew that I wanted to add “something” or “someone” into the scene that I had just created. A narrative or perhaps a snippet of “life happening” in a fun or other-worldly way. I kept thinking about the nostalgia that childhood cartoons had and continues to play in my art. I also wanted to make this image move, animate and loop. I recalled something… oh yes, that drawing that I made a few months ago, those cool looking line characters were still waiting for me to activate them! The image above (click on it to expand and make it bigger) was a part of series of characters that were drawn with a stylus in adobe illustrator with my wacom tablet. Those smooth vector lines are so much fun to make and are also editable as paths. This makes it really fun to alter and stylize. I began to deconstruct the image and isolate several parts.
As I mentioned, from the big drawing above I derived a few fragments and played with them. I reconstructed them into new forms and assets to start making a new character with. I mean, sky is the limit here and I love discovering the possibilities to expand things into new works. Once I was happy with my new graphics I colorized them and isolated them onto one page. I brought the new illustrator file back into photoshop and made individual files and layers for each asset. I realize now that I only focused on the upper torso and the arms of the character but thats OK for now as I can always continue forward if the inspiration keeps stoking the fire for more! Haha, I know that it will!
This was the first composition of the new character placed into the setting. Once I did this I knew that I could easily animate it too. I still really like the static illustration and it forced me to make another one, which you see below (haha, and a few more!) The illustration below is a bit more abstract and possibly even more fun to look at, what do you think? I kept going.. obviously, wouldn’t you?
It was fun to make this variation, and.. once I did, I decided to send all the individual assets to my phone and play around there too. There are so many ways to use mobile devices for digital marking.. that is another story for another post as go forward. I love the tension that different devices and interfaces give in terms of their screen resolutions and how things look across multiple devices or outdated tech.. For example, this week I will pull this image up on an old MacBook laptop that I have from the year 2009. I’ll take a few screen shots of it and transfer it to a mini DV tape and play it back through an older monitor, or something like that. Those screen captures and variants taken from things like a mini DV tape are so much fun to play with.
This illustration above was composed from those same assets using my iPhone. I used the “Glitch’e” app (check the app store or google play) to bring it all together (as layers) and play with the color. It is over saturated on purpose to give the impression of a bit more intensity and a warmer temperature in the “scene”. The cropping of the composition leads us to think that “something or someone” else is also participating in the dialog.
Does it work? Ok, let’s animate this thing!
Then.. it was finally time to fire up adobe after effects and bring this guy to life. First, I put that background on a seamless directional loop to the left (I expanded the background layer / screen by twice the length of it) so that the character would appear to be moving forward in a walk cycle. This is my first iteration of this animation cycle. I like it so far but I want to do more with it. I need to fix a few of my puppet warp movements, or should I make it “glitch” more? Hmmm, Ill play with it a bit more and already think I have another idea..
Welp, as I mentioned, once things get going, its kind of hard to stop pushing the limits with creativity. I started to bring in “other elements” from things that were previously made. I make a ton of graphic assets from my illustrations and applied art works. This is the beauty of digital art, there is such a powerful immediacy to aspects of it. Of course, making the assets can be super time consuming depending on what you are doing. For example, working with the pen tool in photoshop or illustrator.. either way, its good practice and the assets are always waiting for you! I kept going and made things a bit more abstract… Thoughts?