This week, we will continue exploring the business of teaching quilting using online methods. We will take a look at the evolution of teaching quilting online and understand how global events shape the quilting industry.
The Early Days at Quilt University
It might surprise you to learn that quilting has been taught online for more than 2 decades. As a matter of fact, I had my earliest experiences with online quilting classes at Quilt University in 2008. Carol Miller had founded this online education center in the summer of 2000. She operated the Quilt University platform until she passed away in 2013.
Lyric Kinard became one of the 50 pioneering teachers recruited to explore the possibilities of online learning in the quilt world. Lyric explained the Quilt University approach to online instruction. Students would enroll in a course of interest that would start and end on a particular date. Teachers “dripped” content to students on a predetermined schedule throughout the course. Back in those days, slower dial-up internet meant content needed to be in written form. Teachers included carefully selected pictures and diagrams when needed.
What differentiated this approach from purchasing an e-book was the online interaction with the teacher and fellow students. Teachers would post the content for the week. Students would complete exercises and homework. Then, teachers encouraged students to share photos of their work with each other, and ask questions in the online classroom.
The Advent of On-Demand Video Based Quilt Classes
As internet speed improved, delivering instruction online changed as well. Consequently, teachers began presenting lessons with carefully edited videos. This technology enabled students to enjoy pre-recorded, video-based workshops at any time, day or night. Lyric has been offering these video-based on-demand workshops for years.
On-demand workshops at Lyric Art range in price from $30 to $169. Lyric’s prices reflect the amount of time normally required of her to provide feedback and critique for a particular course. These courses have increased in popularity due to the pandemic. Before 2020, these on-demand video-based workshops generated one-quarter of her income. These days, they represent one-third of the total revenues for Lyric Art. Of course, filming, editing, and automating the delivery of these workshops was an incredible amount of upfront effort. Today, it is a relatively passive source of income. It was easy to scale up to meet the increased demand for this type of workshop during the pandemic.
The Impact of the Global Pandemic on Teaching Quilting Online
Though teaching quilting online dates back as early as 2000, the global pandemic of 2020 had considerable impacts on the industry. Around the world, the pandemic induced shutdowns of every type of in-person learning. It resulted in job losses and remote work at unprecedented levels. The global conditions compelled technological solutions and forced people to overcome hesitation with using technology.
In person gatherings at quilt shows and guilds were no longer possible. For many, there were long stretches of time spent at home in relative isolation. For this reason, interest in hobbies and crafts such as quilting surged during the shutdowns. Figuring out how to connect virtually became an important element of good mental health.
Moving Quilt Shows and Events Online
Before long, professional quilt show organizers such as the Mancuso Show Management were looking to move their shows online. Within months of the shutdown, I was attending my first ever online quilt fest. I was able to take live online workshops from renowned teachers, like Lyric, while wearing my slippers!
Teachers who were new to the online world sought advice about equipment and teaching techniques from experienced virtual teachers. Students were patient with the learning curve of teachers delivering content for the first time live online via Zoom. The earliest efforts had some hiccups. However, after a few online shows, quilters were falling in love with this approach.
Addressing the Needs of Quilt Guilds with Online Lectures and Workshops
Before the pandemic, guild program chairs in California would discover teachers for future programs at in-person “meet the teacher” events. The Northern California Quilt Council (NCQC) and the Southern Californa Council of Quilt Guilds hosted these events. During the pandemic, both organizations pivoted to offer the events online. Mel Beach helped the NCQC group with the transition. She discovered participation in the virtual events increased since travel wasn’t required. Many guilds booked online programs at the event. It worked so well, that the NCQC plans to continue offering annual virtual events in the future.
The Development of The Global Quilt Connection
After the virtual NCQC teacher event, Lyric and fellow quilt artist Sue Bleiweiss thought they could create a similar networking
opportunity to help fellow teachers globally. Lyric describes Sue as a woman with great ideas who makes things happen! Within 2 days of having the idea, the Global Quilt Connection was taking shape.
They started with a website and a goal to connect online quilting teachers with guild program chairs around the world. Today, teachers are able to list their online programs and workshops through the Global Quilt Connection’s membership directory. Teachers briefly present to guild representatives at virtual “meet the teacher” events. Guild representatives participate in online events and roundtables designed to facilitate delivering programs to guilds virtually.
Initially, Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss built this community to help quilters and teachers navigate a tough period with unprecedented challenges. However, the community has become so popular that quilters want it to continue. Mel Beach has joined the team, dividing the workload so all three can continue to focus on their classes and their art. The Global Quilt Connection will continue to be refined and expanded to serve as the go-to resource for teachers and program chairs in the online sphere.
Presenting Lectures and Teaching Workshops Virtually Live
Lyric’s many years of experience teaching quilting online prepared her well for the innovation that took place in 2020. Now, in addition to the on-demand workshops, Lyric presents lectures and teaches workshops live on online platforms such as Zoom. She is able to charge the same rates for her virtual lectures and workshops as her in-person offerings. For Lyric, this means she receives $550 for her live online lectures, and between $550-$850 for live online workshops.
Many guilds now see the benefit of scheduling at least some live online programs in the future. Program chairs cite the savings of travel expenses and the availability of international instructors as reasons to choose online instruction. In areas with seasons of inclement weather, scheduling a live online program seems to be a safe, stress-free option. This new trend has the potential to boost the revenue of professional quilting teachers.
I was surprised to learn from Lyric that protecting your time is one of the main benefits of the live online format over the on-demand option. When Lyric offers her pre-recorded on-demand workshops, students have the ability to seek feedback and ask questions. Since these classes can be started at any time, these questions trickle in over time. There is no start or end date for the on-demand workshop. With a live online offering, it’s much easier to place boundaries on her work time.
The Future of Teaching Quilting Online
The difficult conditions our world faced in 2020 have forced innovation in many industries. Technology that intimidated many quilters in the past became more accessible as virtual opportunities became the only option. Next time we will learn more about the advantages of learning quilting online. We will see why this new approach is here to stay. You won’t want to miss exploring this business model more thoroughly with Lyric. Hear how this industry leader is planning to share her decades of experience with aspiring online teachers. Be sure to subscribe to my email list, so you never miss a single post, and get my free “Ultimate Guide to Pricing Your Quilts for Sale” as my way of saying thanks for connecting with me!