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Building Community Online: Meet Lorna Turner

Lorna Turner

Years ago, Lorna Turner took a few massive online open courses (MOOCs) and appreciated their flexible schedule and self-pacing. She felt the format had something to offer Otis Extension students. Lorna Turner

After completing a professional development workshop offered to Otis College instructors called Bricks + Clicks, she’s has been teaching online courses ever since. Beginning in 2016 with Typography I, Lorna has now taught 18 online classes through Otis College Extension including Typography I and II; Logos, Symbols, and Letterforms; and Designing Infographics.

Online courses through Otis Extension are offered asynchronously, which means students in the course can participate on their own time but still have class interactions and receive personal feedback from instructors. Once a lesson is posted, students can watch the video, complete the assignment, engage in the online forum with other students, and post their work to the student gallery. And then Lorna provides feedback on assignments for all students to read, so that everyone is learning from each other’s work. 

Lorna makes her courses fun. “I have learned that having fun is key to retaining information, so I utilize tools available online to ‘gamify’ the education experience. An assignment might require them to make an inspirational board in Padlet, take an online kerning quiz, answer questions from a video watched, or I might ask them to leave the computer behind and walk their neighborhood, while looking at messaging and signage.”

But what about those looking for community and connection?

“Everyone has to participate in class. You cannot sit at the back of an online classroom and have the content fed to you. You must read the lecture PDFs or watch the videos to participate in the Forum or have success in the homework. If you do not turn in the homework, you don’t get feedback. They must meet me halfway. I get super excited when I see the engagement—the comments on comments—pushing their ideas,” says Lorna.

And other benefits? 

“Let’s be honest, the traffic, the traffic, the traffic. Trying to arrive to Otis for a 7pm class can be a bear. Now, no one is arriving late, stressed out or hungry! Students can start anytime after the course materials release and you can pause your learning to get a bowl of Captain Crunch, or an apple.”Lorna Turner

Lorna Turner is a practicing graphic designer, educator, and artist who received her MA in Communication Art + Design from the Royal College of Art, London. She works on projects that range from designing logo identities, books, mobile apps, marketing materials to illustrating visuals, and editorial storytelling for the web. In her personal work, she is drawn to photographing discarded signage, abandoned houses, uninhabited industrial facilities, or vacant public spaces (IG @dooneabout). 

The following slideshow of images are from an assignment from Lorna's Typography I: Pick three words that have significance to you. Action words are best. Then stage found objects to spell out the words in a meaningful way. This is an exercise in creativity using found objects. Creating letterforms that express emotions, actions, and feelings. Photograph each word.

 

Lorna is teaching four courses in the Fall 2019 term including Typography I (online), Typography II (online), Designing Infographics (online), and Silkscreen.  Learn more about Lorna at hellolorna.com and iamlorna.com.

Image credit from top: Photograph from Disappearing Messages, Lorna Turner at an exhibition of Disappearing Messages, Blue Letterpress Print, graduate school project. 

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