Forum theatre and digital education dilemmas: let’s improvise!

I ran a workshop yesterday at the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference in Edinburgh. The title was the same as this post. I’ve copied below the abstract for the workshop. A number of people have expressed an interest in doing something similar in their institutions, so I am making my scripts and own workshop notes available for anyone to re-use and re-mix.

Forum Theatre Workshop Notes ALTC 2019

Forum Theatre Scripts Digital education dilemmas ALTC 2019

Let me know how you get on and if you want any help, please get in touch.

 

Session Description
This will be an interactive workshop where participants will be invited to join in with discussion, games and short improvisations.

There is an increasing need for informed debate about the unintended consequences of the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning. Learning analytics, artificial intelligence, algorithmic bias and platform surveillance are problems with which learning technologists and educators must wrestle (Williamson, 2015, 2017). Yet, what agency do educators and those who support them have over the technologies they choose to use? How can, for example, individuals act with integrity when institutions mandate the use of platforms which commodify student data (Morris & Stommel, 2017)? And for those who work in the open, how can they guard against disadvantaging those who may not have the same access or privileges? These issues inevitably have an impact on learners and learning.

Forum theatre was established by Boal (1985) as way to draw an audience into debates by using short plays as provocations. When audience members see a situation they think could be handled differently, they intervene and change the course of a story. This workshop will explore a series of brief scenarios where educators and learners are faced with problematic situations concerning the use of digital technology for teaching and learning. The purpose of the workshop is for participants to work together to explore alternative approaches.

Forum theatre has been used in contexts to stimulate debate about difficult situations, often focusing on power inequalities, oppression and the importance of dialogue. By directly intervening, participants can bring their own knowledge and experience to bear to the scene. Forum theatre is suitable for complex situations where there is no one solution and the ensuing discussion is often the most generative part of the session. No prior performing experience is necessary.

Teaching is often described as performance. Many performers within theatre would dispute that performance is an act of concealment, but more a process of self-revelation which is predicated on authenticity (Brook, 1996). We teach with our ‘whole selves’ and this workshop will introduce playful ways of exploring pressing issues around the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning. For one hour, participants will be invited to forget any preconceptions of what to expect from a conference workshop and co-create some serious play.

Session content
This will take the form of a theatre workshop involving warm-up exercises and games, script reading and improvisation. There are no requirements for any technology/BOYD but a room with a flexible open space is necessary e.g. it can be cleared of furniture to accommodate a performance area. Video recording may therefore be difficult, and may inhibit participants. Photography, however, would be fine.

References
Brook, P., (1996), The empty space: A book about the theatre: Deadly, holy, rough, immediate. Simon and Schuster.

Boal, A., (1985), Theatre of the Oppressed, trans. Charles A. and Maria-Odilia Leal McBride (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1979).

Morris, S. M., & Stommel, J., (2017), A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against Turnitin. Hybrid Pedagogy, 15. http://hybridpedagogy.org/resisting-edtech/

Williamson, B., (2015), Coding/learning: Software and digital data in education: A Report from the ESRC Code Acts in Education seminar series. Stirling. https://codeactsineducation.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/coding_learning_-_software_and_digital_data_in_education.pdf

Williamson, B., (2017), Learning in the ‘platform society’: Disassembling an educational data assemblage. Research in Education, 98(1), pp. 59–82 DOI: 10.1177/0034523717723389.

2 thoughts on “Forum theatre and digital education dilemmas: let’s improvise!

  1. Louise, I love this, would love to have been there. Your notes call for “a room with a flexible open space” – I guess it helps to have flexible open people too? Well done. Between this, Gasta, and other goodies on the #altc timeline, good things are happening in that lovely space.

    Like

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