Friendship Star Quilt

I didn’t realise that there was going to be a Part 2 to this but yet here we are with a Part 3.  Admittedly they have been spread over a bit of a long time.  As I have said before, I am such an amazingly fortunate person to be earning my living teaching patchwork and quilting.

When I first started building this business, I was a member of the Entrepeneurs Circle and during a mentoring session it was strongly suggested that I get ahead of the game and put my classes online.

Now, I love face to face teaching.  That interaction with people is a really special part of my teaching.  So I pushed away from it and kept my focus on my face to face classes, added in national workshops and talks too.  I kept thinking in the back of my mind that I should do something with this new-fangled technology, but tomorrow, right?

Ash Valley Quilters

Then 2020 happened.  January and February didn’t seem too bad.  There were things going on in the rest of the world, but surely here in the UK we would be OK.  Then March happened and suddenly, overnight almost, I had no business.  Thankfully most of my classes only missed one session that term and via emails and facebook I was able to give enough support so that people finished their projects.

I will be honest and say that I spend a good few weeks hiding under the duvet, feeling sorry for myself, and feeling guilty about feeling sorry because I have a roof over my head (a large mortgage, but a roof nonetheless!), a small outside space, the freezer and cupboards weren’t empty – but I had no loo roll!  Let me tell you, there is such a thing as reusable loo wipes!!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and determination overtook the sense of panic.  Well, The Entrepeneurs Circle was going to get their wish!  Only about 6 years late!  But I was going online!  The two classes – Friendship Star and Improv Wall hanging – that I was planning on running in Watford and Letchworth would move online.

Improv Wall hanging – top

I do put a lot of work into preparing for my classes.  I make the project, I create step by step instructions with photos and I am very available for help and additional information during and after classes.  Surely it would not be beyond me to move this online.  I had the projects for these classes pretty much ready, so surely, it can’t be that difficult!  Wow! Online is complicated!   I had looked at a number of online learning platforms.  They offered free versions – it would be good to run this term as a test run before paying out money for their software.  Except, I couldn’t actually publish my courses via the free options – I could build them and play with them, but I couldn’t use them!  I spent too many days loading onto different platforms before finding that I couldn’t use each of them.

And then there’s videos!  Oh my goodness!  I have a half decent android smartphone, a quarter decent android tablet and an eighth decent digital point and shoot camera ….. and a decidedly ropey internet connection!  I bought what I thought was a tripod for the mobile and tablet but it turned out to be a selfie-stick that converted to a tabletop tripod.  Absolutely no use for looking over my shoulder to see what I was doing.  Thankfully my son is home with me at this time and he has been able to act as my Video team!  It is fair to say it is not his favourite way of spending his time!  He is 20-odd and although he says he wants to help, the huffing and puffing and eye-rolling is quite off-putting!

Starting to plan for next term

I decided to self-publish my courses, emailing them out to each student individually each week.  So I hit my own deadline and the course started at the end of April.  We are in Week 6 now and it is going very well.  I have a facebook support group for all current and past students and it is fabulous how the online students are supporting each other and the previous students are dipping in and adding their three penn’orth too.  It is a lovely supportive community.

Even teachers make mistakes!

One of the nicest things is that I am creating another version of my project along side the students so that I can video aspects as we go along.

So I say it again – I am such an amazingly fortunate person. I will go back to teaching face to face when it is safe to do so, but for now I am still able to teach online.  I am not going to stop the online teaching, but as I go forward I hope to improve my skills and also sort out the right equipment to use.  How utterly FABULOUS is that?

My super power is teaching, supporting, encouraging and enabling, so that you can create something unique and wonderful, and have lots and lots of FUN!