For those of you that don't know, Classes are a format that concentrates all of our educational pieces (tutorials, courses, flows, exercises, etc) into a month-long, guided experience. In my time as an online Blender instructor, this class format has proven to be the best way to develop lasting Blender skills in a short amount of time. However this is truest during the specific month that a class is in session.
What about the members that want to take the classes but either didn't know about them at the time or weren't able available during class months?
The first answer to that question is that we fully intend to run and re-run classes every few months. Look for that to happen in 2019 as it did in 2018. But in this article I want to offer a more immediate solution: Participate in classes passively.
Why Take Classes Passively?
Recently we've seen a number of people asking how they can take participate in past classes on their own outside of active class months. After all classes combine the best of every corner of CG Cookie into a cohesive, structured, and scheduled format. Of course you all should be able to engage with such a format even when classes aren't actively in session!
One key difference between active and passive comes down to motivation. In an active class it's hard not to be motivated by fellow classmates doing work and encouraging each other while the instructor keeps reminding you that homework is due soon. But if you can motivate yourself to keep outlined class schedules on your own, you can absolutely learn likewise by taking classes passively. Let's discuss how that can be accomplished.
Understand first that "passive" participation includes:
- Following the structure of the Syllabus: Every class homepage thread has the syllabus outlined in the thread's description. This is the best place to follow the structure of the class, same as when the class was in session.
- Ability to watch past live streams: We record all CGC live streams, all of which are available by clicking the "Past Streams" button on the live event page. After broadcast, these are viewable as videos like any other on the site.
- Ability to watch all associated tutorials and courses: Citizen members can of course learn all the included CGC material that serves as the bedrock of each class's curriculum.
- Option to post in class forum threads: Technically class threads are just as active as any other. While most of the activity happens during active class months, there's no reason a passive participant couldn't ask questions in those threads. Other members, CGC crew, or even class alumni could see it and offer their advice, critique, and/or encouragement.
- Option to post your own homework thread:
The 3 things you'll be missing with passive participation:
- Guaranteed instructor and classmate involvement: Understand though that active classes guarantee fellow student and instructor presence which cannot be guaranteed for passive participation.
- Motivation / accountability of a set timeframe: Deadlines are a powerful motivator that results in impressive amounts of work done in a short amount of time. Passive participation will lack that motivation *unless self-imposed*. Which could be a good thing if you prefer to go at your own pace.
- Graded homework: Active participation includes the element of the instructor applying a letter grade + critique to each homework assignment. That will be missing from passive participation.
How To Take Classes Passively
If you're aware of CGC Classes already, you probably know that the format started as an experiment and 2018 served as a "beta" period of sorts. Meaning there isn't a fancy official class system yet - though such a system is in development. Instead classes are tied together via forum threads. Therefore the process to find and participate in all past classes goes like this:
1. Search "[ENDED]" on the community forum page.
This string will return all previous class threads because I add that prefix to them once their active session is completed.
2. Click on desired class thread and find the "Syllabus" section of the description.
At the very top of each class thread description you'll see class announcements. If you scroll down, directly below those you'll find the "Syllabus" heading. Below that you'll find each week of the class outlined with courses to watch, live streams to watch, and homework to do.
3. Learn and post your own homework thread
All homework used to be posted in the main class thread (BC1-1801, BC2-1803, BC3-1806). But for BC1-1808 and BC4-1810 we transitioned to every participant creating their own associated homework thread to house all their homework progress, final submissions, as well as homework-specific questions and answers. If you wish to participate passively, please create your own homework thread with this naming convention:
"BCX_XXXX Homework, Name" where the first prefix is the relevant class identifier and the name can be your name or your username. See Miranda van Elst's thread as an example:
You can find examples of other students' homework threads by searching likewise via the main forum page:
"The Power is Yours!" - Captain Planet
With those 3 steps in mind you're ready to passively take classes! While the active communal nature cannot be guaranteed for passive participation, it doesn't mean that community can't be involved along the way. Keep in mind that these forum threads are like any other where fellow members and CGC crew can pop in and offer assistance and encouragement.
There's still a LOT to learn from classes passively. Happy learning!
For those interested in active classes, both new and re-runs are coming in 2019! I'm trying to hold off till an official system is built but even if that doesn't happen in time, look for a new class to be scheduled for March or April at the latest!