Over Zoom, ‘Cold Open’ Connects Creative Community

Cold Open Participants Participate in a Zoom Call

For the past six weeks, the Davidson community has tuned into Zoom for “Cold Open,” a virtual performance space with a decidedly warm, welcoming vibe. EdSurge, a publication focused on innovation in higher ed, recently called it “part literary salon, part open-mic night.”

Alan Michael Parker, Douglas Houchens Professor of English, and Daniel Lynds, an instructional designer on the digital learning team, threw the idea together in the hectic days immediately following the shift to remote instruction.

Now, “Cold Open” continues to showcase students, faculty and staff, who share their art and voices to create a palpable sense of community in spite of the limits of teleconferencing. Anyone who has spent time on Zoom knows this is no small feat.

Rebecca Koening, the EdSurge reporter, sat in on a recent “Cold Open.”

“If it were possible to bring down a virtual house, Durwin Striplin accomplishes it,” she writes. “The chemistry professor plays ‘Your Song’ by Elton John on the piano, crooning, ‘I hope you don't mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you're in the world.’”

Every “Cold Open” ends with a brief highlight reel from the previous week, underscoring the minor miracle of each session.

“The remembering where we have come from that happens each week—there is this way in which the community extends both into the past and into the future,” Parker says. “I think we have lucked into something that manifests some really interesting values by way of community.”

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