Spring Semester Begins Online as Scheduled at Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University

On February 17, 2020, Tsinghua University started the spring semester as scheduled in the school calendar. The faculty and students of the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University (AADTHU) gathered in the cloud-based classrooms at 8:00 a.m. Dean Lu Xiaobo and Secretary of the CPC Committee Ma Sai were watching attentively as online classes were delivered in the Rain Classroom. Vice President Yang Dongjiang received reports on all classes given in the morning at 13:00: With the first classes of the 52 courses offered by AADTHU given online, the new semester was off to a good start. 

Due to outbreak of the epidemic, Tsinghua University gave a class to all its faculty members and students on February 3, 2020, announcing delayed re-opening of school but start of the new semester as scheduled. AADTHU jumped into action and established a special working group for teaching during the epidemic. To adapt to online teaching during the epidemic, all teachers were required to adjust their way of lecturing and offer online classes to students without deviating from the set programmes. 

AADTHU’s courses feature small classes, frequent interactions and hands-on experience. In preparation for online classes, our teachers focused on how to make the best of online tools. Dean Lu Xiaobo was among the first batch of teachers to give online classes. He tried many online teaching tools while considering the features of our courses. He created and shared a PowerPoint presentation in the dedicated WeChat group for teaching in the spring semester, and had discussions with other teachers. Teachers of different specializations held heated discussions on online teaching. Their topics ranged from lecturing content and methods to software, such as the advantages and disadvantages of Rain Classroom, Tencent Meeting and Zoom and tips for their use. They even talked about the details to be considered while giving online classes. Everyone concerned was determined to do their best to give high-quality classes.            


According to quarantine regulation to contain the spread of COVID-19, Prof. Qiu Song could not leave Wuhan, which put him at a disadvantage. He tried different means to overcome the difficulties. With his mother’s deck chair and electric radiator, he transformed a narrow space to a classroom for online teaching. This classroom has not only provided students with knowledge, but also enabled them to stay calm and confident. After class, Prof. Qiu Song told his concerned colleagues, “my platform is cramped, but it has connected me with 30 students (including 5 foreign students and 2 teaching assistants) in different countries and regions, and helped us complete this unusual class.”        

Qiu Song’s online class: Fundamentals of 3D modeling

Qiu Song’s classroom in Wu Han

A student (Qiu Shihan from Class Art 910) is attending an online class

Advertising Design is a specialized course given by Prof. Ma Quan and associate professor Gu Xin for juniors of the Department of Visual Communication. To adapt the course for online teaching, the two professors modified their courseware after discussion and worked together to design the lecture. For the best possible teaching effects, they tried both recorded and live teaching and kept improving their equipment and environment, with scrupulous attention to details including the internet and teaching tools. A student named Li Liuyi told us, “While attending the class, I kept thinking that the voice from my headset offered not only knowledge, but also strength. Nothing, including the virus, can prevent Tsinghua people from studying. Everything is going to be fine in the end!” Another student Chen Jinkun said that the different environment did not have any negative impact on quality of the class. According to him, the courseware and lectures were all very clear, and students could have interactions like they were communicating face to face. He was grateful to the teachers for their hard work during the unusual period.    

Gu Xin (left) and Ma Quan (right) are giving their first online class

Online class: Advertising design

Display Design 1 is a course combining theories with practice offered by the Department of Industrial Design, focusing on details and regional design and processing. Associate professor Fan Yinliang of the said department prepared extensively for online lecturing. He managed to design proper teaching content and method for each teaching objective. By making paper airplanes, he helped students understand the structure and processing of details. Fast design of display cabinets enabled students to understand design requirements and identify pain points in use, and improved their problem-solving ability. Through video sharing in the Rain Classroom, creative design and reviewing of the same achieved satisfactory results. Fan Yinlang also designed a “follow me” activity during recess, and used chair, table and other furniture to do some relaxation exercise. The recess in distance learning turned out to be a wonderful moment for interaction between Fan Yinliang and his students.           

Fan Yinliang gives an online class and take exercises during recess

Paper airplanes are used in discussion of structure and design details

Designs of Wang Zhengqi (now in Wuhan) and Zhang Bocheng

As for the course of Head Sculpture, how can the lecturer give a quality class in the absence of students, without sufficient material and tools and conditions for sculpting? Assistant professor Ma Wenjia of the Department of Sculpture decided that he would not lessen the requirements or ask for no practice, and that he would still follow relevant norms and be strict with students. Considering that students may not have sculpting clay and tools, and that courier services had not resumed in some regions, Ma Wenjia and his teaching assistant taught students how to make material and tools such as oil-based clay, sculpture stands and tools from easily available goods. Students gave full play to their wisdom and made such material and tools from waste. Their creation will not halt as long as the course continues.  

Ma Wenjia’s online class

Homemade sculpting clay



Spatial thinking and expression of material

It is nothing unusual for our teachers to end a lesson. But after their first online lectures, even experienced teachers couldn’t help but told each other in the WeChat group in excitement, “It was a success!” “Everything went out well.” “The Rain Classroom is quite good.” The success in online delivery of 52 courses is attributable to the careful preparation and hard work of our faculty and other staff from the Teaching Affairs Office, Dean’s Office and various departments. The first online classes of the 2020 spring semester have been a great success, for which we are grateful to our teachers and students for their cooperation.


Editor:Luo Xuehui, Zhao Ruohan

Visual Designer: Feng Jiaqi