Big Picture Scrapbooking Workshop Review

by Jennifer Sizemore (Nov 27, 2007)

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts. -- Author Unknown

I am a firm believer that people learn more when they love what they are learning, have a skilled teacher, and are challenged to think outside the box. Fortunately for scrapbookers and paper artists, Big Picture Scrapbooking has classes that fulfill all those essential criteria.

1_42A little about the company.
Inspired by a BIG idea, Stacy Julian, Paula Wessels, and Kayce Rehn created Big Picture Scrapbooking with the mission to offer outstanding online scrapbooking education. Their philosophy is to focus on organizational and creative process as well as personal awareness. For the student, this means learning that goes beyond finished projects.

Why take an online class?
There are many benefits to taking an online class such as those offered with Big Picture Scrapbooking. The biggest benefit is that online courses offer more flexibility in scheduling than traditional in-store courses. Instead of having to sit for a two-hour class on a specific night, you may plan your class time around your schedule. If that schedule changes, which it always does, the time you put aside can change as well. Online courses also give an opportunity to learn from instructors that may never physically teach in your geographic location.

This is how it works.
Students shop from an assortment of class offerings, from single project downloads to yearlong courses. Workshop descriptions include the instructor's name with a link to a bio, class dates, what is included in the class, pictures of class projects, a supply list, class fee and a full write-up of what students can expect to learn. Once a student has purchased the class, she is considered registered for class and the learning begins on the class start date.

Projects Now! are project instructions that you can download instantly. Simple Scrapbook classes are also instant downloads, but these are based on articles published in the Simple Scrapboks magazine. Workshops are classes that have specific start and end dates, and have more content than the other two types of classes. Workshops and Projects Now! may include many different elements of downloads and interactive learning. For this article, I enrolled in the "All About Family" workshop, taught by Georgana Hall of Adornit - Carolee's Creations . This class was a four-week course that included weekly audio downloads, weekly project and activity handouts, a chat room and a gallery. For other classes I have taken, a message board or e-mail access to the instructor has been offered.

This is my experience.
First and foremost, I have to say that the design of the website is clean and easy to maneuver. It is easy to register, learn about courses, purchase registration, and use the classroom. Nothing flashes or blinks at you, it is easy to find the information you need, and the links all work! For all downloads, it is very clear what programs you need to have loaded on your computer. There is also a daily quote and color gallery for more inspiration.

Next, the course supply list was reasonable and it was very easy to find the supplies I needed at stores, or in my own stash of stuff. The list contained live links to make my shopping even easier. Many courses, including this one, have a complete class kit available for purchase through a link in the supply list.

The audio files are a wonderful part of the class, very much like being able to have the teacher teach you a concept whenever you want her to and as frequently as you want to hear it.There are several options with the audio message - you can listen to streaming audio while in the classroom, view the transcripts of the audio file, or download the audio file to your computer. A savvy student can even transfer the file to an MP3 player and listen to the class while doing chores or walking on the treadmill. And unlike a live class, you can stop, pause or rewind if the need should arise. The quality of the audio feed was excellent, and Georgana was well prepared for her message. (I imagine it can be intimidating and a little different to be talking to an empty room.)

The course handouts in this class were excellent: well-designed, concise, thorough, and illustrated to just the right degree. They were a perfect enhancement to the audio message, as opposed to just saying the same thing in a different format. Again, it is clear on the download page as to what programs are needed to open the files. The other beauty of the handouts is that the links in the file are live links, and include many references and further resources.

Other interactive elements of this class were the gallery and chat room. The gallery gives students the opportunity to show their completed projects to fellow students. The chat room is a live interaction with the instructor. Big Picture Scrapbooking also saves the transcript for later reading should you need to reference it or had a scheduling conflict. The latter was, unfortunately, my excuse for not being there.

 

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Three of the six projects included in the class were an altered word, a jewel case mini album, and refrigerator magnets. This class also included weekly family activity assignments. All papers, ribbons and rub-ons are from Adorn it - Carolee's Creations.

Try it before you buy it.
Are you still not sure that an online class from Big Picture Scrapbooking is right for you? There are several free classes available to give you a taste of what you can expect from a purchased course. If you aren't ready for a class yet, just sign up for the newsletter or read the Scrap Big blog at http://bigpicturescrapbooking.typepad.com to get the scoop on the latest offerings.

 

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