Professional Learning

A Sneak Peek Inside AOE Classes: An Interview With AOE’s Educational Director

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with AOE’s Educational Director, Heather Crockett, and pick her brain about AOE’s online graduate classes. Heather answered frequently asked questions, shared course samples, and even provided a sneak peak into the new class platform!  Read on to hear what Heather had to say.

AH: How tech-savvy does someone have to be to take an AOE class? What is the learning curve like?

HC: Our classes are online, so technology is an important part, but the requirements are pretty basic. All of our classes require a computer with internet connection and a word-processing program, like Microsoft Word or Pages. Tech-specific courses, like iPads, Advanced iPads, and our newest class, Flipping the Art Room, will have a few more requirements, but nothing too challenging.

You should expect to spend a couple of hours tooling around our online platform in order to get the hang of it, but keep in mind, you are never really on your own.  We want every learner to be successful. Therefore, everything is organized, there are tutorials to help answer frequent questions, and our talented AOE Instructor Team is only an email away.

If you have a question (and there are NO silly questions), your instructor will return your email within 24 hours. Our goal is to provide the tools you need to be successful and independent, but we are also right there for support throughout the entire course.

Course organization


AH: What are some cool features of the online learning platform you use? How does the platform help teachers with their coursework?

HC: I could really gush over our new platform Schoology, but I will hold back and talk about only two of THE BEST features.

  1. Online Grade Book – This tool allows students to see their grades in real time. Instructors can leave comments or score coursework directly off our course rubrics. Scores and comments are private, of course, and they can be accessed immediately.
  2. Course Calendar – Assignments and due dates are automatically inserted into each student’s personal calendar. This feature is extremely helpful for students who sign up for two or more classes or for busy art teachers who have a full calendar already!


AH: How do students submit work?

HC: All student work is submitted through the discussion board. Students enter their assignment text in the text box and click “post.”

How to post


Larger projects can also be attached to the discussion board, just like you would attach a document to an email.  It is that simple! Of course, we provide lots of tutorials and support to help!

How to attach


Sometimes assignments utilize an outside source and can be shared through a link. Below is a sample assignment that is one of my all-time favorites. It uses a web-based program called Snapguide. (If you haven’t tried this program out, you definitely should! It is a quick and easy way to create digital “how-to” tutorials without any fancy equipment. You can download the app and use your cell phone!)
Click to download the sample assignment to see an example of the relevant work students do in our classes. Make sure to click on the linked samples in the document to see some fantastic Snapguide tutorials!

Click to Download Sample Assignment! Project samples are linked in the PDF.
Click to Download Sample Assignment! Project samples are linked in the PDF.


AH: Online learning can sometimes be thought of as impersonal. Do students form bonds the same way they might if they were sitting together in a classroom? How so?

HC: The answer is most definitely yes, but let me explain why I find this to be true for AOE classes especially. Ridiculously Relevant™ Professional Development options, specifically for art teachers, were almost nonexistent before AOE. When students find our program and take our classes they are hooked! We require students to submit two responses to peers for each discussion board, but they hardly ever stop there. Our students tend to interact above and beyond the requirements because they are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with like-minded professionals.

Our instructors are also extremely skilled at encouraging reflective and meaningful conversations in an online platform. You won’t find any “canned” responses here. Many of our instructors were once AOE students, so they appreciate the value of personal interactions.

AH: What is the best thing about learning online with AOE?

HC: This is an easy one. Hands down, the BEST part of our classes are our students. Working with and among art professionals from all over the world is a breath of fresh air. The sharing, support, and camaraderie is unmatched. No longer will you have to “apply this initiative” to the art room. Our curriculum is art room specific, our classes are taught by highly-qualified art instructors, and our students share and learn from each other. I leave every class inspired and full of new ideas.


A huge thank you to Heather for sharing her knowledge with us!

What questions do you still have about taking an AOE Class? Is anything holding you back?

What other questions do you have for Heather?



Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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