Lyndal Studdert

Hi my name is Lyndal Studdert.

I am a Drama/Humanities teacher. After working in Education Queensland for 10 years I headed over to China and have been here since 2008.

I have been working as a Middle School Drama/Humanities teacher in an International School in China. This year, however I have taken leave to concentrate on finally completing my Masters degree. The school introduced an Apple 1-1 program during my first year here and the use of this integrated technology has really changed the way I teach, every day is a new learning experience and you have to be comfortable knowing that you don't know or even have to know all the answers. I very much related to the quote given in the reading (paraphrasing here) Knowledge is no longer about what you know and remember but how to find information and use it.

Studying remotely myself, I am very interested in how technology helps overcome logistical problems, distance, access to resources and helps 'flatten the classroom walls'.

Other than that, I enjoy traveling, learning about different places, people and cultures and relaxing with a good book.

Short Video Sharing in Drama Education

The popularity of short video sharing sites is impacting upon the way we interact with entertainment, in addition the wealth of knowledge and interactive qualities of these sites allow for opportunities for use in education, particularly in the drama classroom. The growing popularity sites such as YouTube is impacting upon traditional forms of entertainment that are being increasingly favoured for these User Generated Content (UGC) sites. This has provided a shift in the ways in which people are interacting with media. No longer are people pure receivers of information disseminated by the few, but are progressively more engaged in a participatory culture where they create, contribute to and actively participate with information across geographical and political boundaries (Jenkins 2006a; 2006b; van Djick, 2009).

In teaching, much success has been documented in using UGC and video sharing sites. The ease of use, accessibility to a wealth of information, opportunities for authentic audiences and built-in feedback options have many educational benefits. Moyora (2009) found that in addition to listening skills the feedback options provided on YouTube were useful in providing authentic writing opportunities for ESL learners. Studies by Desmet (2009) focusing on using YouTube to teach Shakespeare, found that the wealth of information in the form of parodies, songs, scene excerpts and translated scenes into a modern English, all allowed students to engage in a wider understanding of key concepts. Accessing videos on YouTube provided opportunities for students to engage with previously unavailable content; comment, view and share work with large audiences.

Integrating the viewing, creation and analysis of short videos could be successfully applied to the drama classroom. Drama teaching can often be isolated with many teachers working alone or with only one or two other drama educators. Working for the last four years as a the only Middle School drama teacher in an International school in China allowed me to reflect on alternatives to this isolation. Particularly problematic is the devising process students engage in to prepare their performance tasks. Traditionally the rehearsal process is very closed, involving group discussions, learning lines, movements and cues and trying these repeatedly until the group or individual is performance ready. Student journal writing is a popular method to record this devising process, it helps encourage students to engage in recounting, evaluating and researching activities for assessment purposes and to aid the learning process (Burton, 2005; Clausen, 2004). Teachers use these journals or logbooks to assess student understanding and involvement and gain insights into individual contributions to the devising process (Tourelle & McNamara, 1998). Teachers can potentially use video sharing sites to allow opportunities for students to share performances, to engage in feedback and reflection and learn from viewing professional and amateur performances. Essentially integrating technology into the devising process through short video sharing would allow students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in performing.

The VirtualBlackBox

The thevirtualblackbox is a wiki designed to allow the use of short video sharing in the collaboration and rehearsal process of drama. Rapheal (2009, p. 133) states that ‘drama after all is a social art form with students working in groups and ensembles to create drama’. This wiki aims to use technology, especially short video sharing to extend the current methods of collaboration in drama. To engage students and teachers in opening up their drama rooms, workshops and rehearsals to allow sharing to continue beyond the classroom walls.

The audience for this wiki is drama teachers. Drama teaching can be isolated, those working with many colleagues in suburban secondary schools still may find it difficult to share and collaborate with students and teachers in other drama classes due to timetable and organisational constraints. Those facing geographical isolation in rural or international communities may find themselves as the only drama teacher in a school. Finding resources, colleagues and providing students in their classes with authentic opportunities to engage with material can be difficult. Teaching myself in these contexts has allowed me to reflect upon better ways to enhance the rehearsal and collaborative process in drama classes.

In drama class, often the best work is done behind close doors. Valuable learning experiences happen in the lead up to the presentation of polished drama performances. Often this polished work is shared to audiences through performance and showcase evenings. The Behind the Curtain section of the wiki is designed to get that work out into the open and to allow students to gain from sharing the 'unpolished' part of the creative process. To allow others to understand that performance work is a culmination of skills, work and experiences that have taken weeks and often months to build. To create an understanding of the fact that sometimes performance work is not our end goal that the process, the forming, the devising and the experimentations are where the good stuff happens.

Raphael, J. (2009). “A Blog says I’m here”: encouraging reflection on
performance-making and drama practice through blogs. In M.
Anderson, J. Caroll & D, Cameron (Eds.), Education with Digital
Technology: Drama Education with Digital Technology. London:
Continuum International Publishing.