As industries across the globe innovate to adapt to the changing landscape brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, institutions of higher learning looked towards online learning as a beacon of light in this troubling time.
When most educators struggle to adapt to online classes seamlessly, senior lecturer, Mark Beau de Silva from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management, Taylor’s University, opened up an exciting option for online learning and teaching for his module, Foundation in Acting (ADP THTR 101).
Acting is not commonly taught online because it is a discipline that is very much practical based, and a drama classroom involves a lot of face-to-face interaction between tutor and student. With this predicament, lecturer, Mark Beau de Silva attempted to culminate all that is traditionally present in a drama lesson into an online class, via a simple question:
‘How do we create art at a challenging time?’
With the integration of Taylor’s Learning Management System (TIMeS) and daily communication via WhatsApp audio and video notes, lecturer and students discussed stories and imageries based on the word, ‘QUARANTINE’. Mark dispensed step-by-step instructions on how to create multiple video drafts via the online mechanisms mentioned above, until the students can come up with a final video to be assessed as their final assignment.
‘The original idea was to have the students perform their works live to the public, however, now, with this ‘twist’, the audience has somehow become the entire world- anybody online can view their creations!’ de Silva adds.
In the first week, the students spent the first hour of the online class discussing their ideas with the lecturer via WhatsApp and sent their videos, some via email and others Google Drive, for feedback. In the second week, the students are asked to form online groups; either through Facebook or WhatsApp, to discuss how to merge their videos into one.
In the final week, the videos will be approved by the lecturer and put up on Facebook for public viewing. Kudos to the e-Learning Academy’s team for switching the educator’s mindset from impossible to possible, and for providing a bigger audience to our students- the world!
Mark Beau de Silva is a senior lecturer with the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, specifically for the Bachelor of Performing Arts programme.