Project 2: Hybrid Theatre 101 Course
An appreciation of Theatre and Performance relies in large part on physical experience of a performance event. The art form cannot be taught solely through a traditional text-based approach. To this end, Theatre professors are to a certain extent already creating hybrid courses that supplement traditional classroom instruction with attendance at a live performance event in their (or a nearby) city, or at their institution. This project would contribute an additional element of hybridity by using digital technology to reimagine the Theatre 101 textbook.
Teacher Tim- Tim is a faculty member in a local theatre department teaching Theatre 101, a required course for all incoming theatre majors, and a course that fulfills a required component for the University’s core curriculum. He has found that his lectures are inefficient since the majority of students have not done the preparatory reading. He is looking for a way to entice his students to read so his lectures can be more interesting, active, and participatory; building on to, rather than reiterating the readings.
Hands-on Hannah– Hannah is an active learner but does not absorb what she reads. She learns more when she is actually doing something.
Advanced Alice– Alice is a highly cultured student who knows much of the material already. She will answer Tim’s questions (often after a large eye-roll) and then go back to working on material for another class. She is only taking this course because it is required for her degree plan.
Modest-Means Mary– Mary is a non-traditional student. She is a single mother who is having to work to support her child and pay her tuition. She wants to finish her degree so she can build a better life for herself and her child, but the hidden expenses of her education are beginning to wear on her.
Tim found the hybrid course textbook through a discussion with other CUNY theatre faculty and decided to implement it in his fall 101 course. He found that the interactive elements encouraged student participation both in their preparation and in-class discussions. The reimagined “text” promoted greater retention of information and freed his class time to be more active. Hannah also appreciated the new “text” because it reinforced what she was reading with hand-on games and activities. The self-guided nature of the new “text” allowed Alice to move through the course material at a faster pace and she is more active in class since the class in to a reiteration of the textbook. Mary is grateful for the new way the course is set up because it allows her to move at her own pace and doesn’t require her to spend $100+ on another textbook.
Full Version and Time Expectations
The full version of the hybrid course text would use WordPress, BuddyPress, and a course management plugin to create a modular theatre text book. Rather than being only a digitalization and customizable text book (such as a wikibook), this course text would integrate images, video, games, and activities to reinforce terms and concepts for the course. The games and activities also serve as a way to assess students’ progress without spending class time on reading quizzes. Using WordPress with BuddyPress as a platform also brings an element of social learning into the course. As students work through the “text” they are able to ask questions and make comments about the material. This aspect serves as an extension of the class time but also allows for a lower stakes interaction without the fear of judgment from the professor; as well as, promoting critical thinking through engagement with the text in the context of a community.
Since I am already proficient in WordPress and have built several sites, I do not anticipate that this project, even in its full version, would take too much time. The biggest challenge would be making the “text” modules flexible to allow teachers to customize the text to follow the order they want to teach the material. However, I feel like this feature is necessary for the project to expand beyond my own classroom. I would estimate about a year for the completion of this project, a majority of which would be spent populating the content and testing the games and activities to see have effectively they teach the concepts they are intended to.
Stripped Version and Time Expectations
A stripped down version of the hybrid course would remove the flexibility of the modules and would only focus on a singe unit of the course. Most of the features I am envisioning are already native to WordPress/BuddyPress, so I might as well incorporate them even in the reduced version. By focusing on a single unit of the course, i could have the project completed in about 3 months. This would prove the project’s viability, but it would have to be expanded before it would actually be useful as a course.