Zooming in to on-campus studios for drama classes
Returning to teach fully on-campus units while still in the precarious state imposed by the pandemic involves creativity and innovation. Particularly when delivering practical learning experiences for pre-service drama teachers in drama education. Deakin’s Dr Jo Raphael, School of Education, embraced the challenges posed by these conditions and experienced some very positive outcomes in her classes.
Most of Jo’s students were desperate to resume practical on-campus drama classes with their peers. However, the conditions of border restrictions and the need to isolate if experiencing symptoms or waiting for test results, meant some students could be disadvantaged by not attending their on-campus class.
Jo drew upon her experience of teaching practical drama via Zoom honed during periods of lockdown in 2020 and blended strategies with the on-campus face-to-face classes students desired.
Students unable to attend classes with their peers joined classroom activities via iPads on stands. Once virtually connected in the drama studio, students engaged with their peers in the very physical and dynamic classroom activities characteristic of drama.
They were able to work in groups, engage in performance-making tasks and present performances via Zoom, drawing creative inspiration from new possibilities the technology allowed.
The results were incredibly encouraging. Students Zooming in to class appreciated that they did not miss out on practical sessions and reported a positive experience.
‘Jo effectively facilitated an online learning platform for me so I could be immersed in the physical classroom environment from Tasmania. Through Zoom, iPad, laptop, and a projector, she was able to have me in the class participating and engaging with other students. I felt a part of the class cohort, collaborating with them in class activities, including performances, and able to contribute to classroom discussion. I was overwhelmed by the effort put in by Jo, and my fellow students, and the ease in which this environment provided me to learn’.
Student eVALUate comment
Students physically on campus commented that the blended initiative was exciting for them and served as a model of inclusive teaching practice. This is innovative teaching practice pre-service teachers can take into their future teaching careers.
Attendance for the unit was high, with students able to access class under different circumstances. One student, for example, whose car broke down on the way to class could join via Zoom while she was waiting for roadside assistance.
Such innovation in learning and teaching may have been prompted by COVID-19, but the approach has enduring appeal and utility.