Object-based learning is an effective way to encourage learners’ curiosity and have fun whilst exploring a new topic. It can also help explain techniques and skills in a way that is more digestible for certain types of students. I have often found short workshops to be an effective way to teach my students. Significantly I believe it demonstrates a way of working that students feel confident continuing on their own. I have observed that a student that has Asperger’s can find it difficult to follow a lot of instructions. Using the types of micro-teach sessions I showed in this workshop can help explain a technique or way of working in a fun and engaging way that encourages them to understand without getting anxious.
The idea for my micro-teach came from a particular challenge my student has when creating narrative on his Illustration and Visual Media course. His current project is to produce a comic book story about his disability. I have noticed that when producing the storyboards he may inadvertently miss out sections of the narrative. This can mean his work doesn’t flow or make sense without verbal explanation. I wanted to create a micro workshop that will teach students how to illustrate their story clearly storyboarding, a necessary skill when working on narrative based projects.
The intention of my micro teach was for my ‘students’ to find engagement in the 3 objects presented to them and use their observational, inspirational and communication skills to produce a spontaneous collaborative narrative.
The three objects I decided to use as inspiration were a pair of binoculars, a Nokia 3310 mobile phone and a small architectural model of an Indian Temple. These objects have strong personal memories for me but more importantly they carry a diverse range of themes for the group to draw inspiration from.
Each ‘student’ receives a sheet of paper divided into 12 squares in the style of a storyboard. For the first 3 minutes everyone uses the top row of squares to draw the beginning of a story inspired by the 3 objects in front of them. They are encouraged to be playful and creative whilst following two rules – firstly the story must be open-ended and secondly they are not allowed to use descriptive words. They must try to use only drawings in their storyboard. After the first three minutes everyone passes their sheet to the person on their right. Informed by what they see on the first row their peer then continues the middle part of the story without talking or asking questions. This will be the test, has each participant drawn their story in a way that clearly communicates to their peers. The process is repeated for a final time to finish the story. Once the final 3 minutes are up the students reveal the full storyboard and discuss if the original narrative was correctly understood.
The atmosphere is the group was relaxed. To begin with people were tentative of their drawing skills however everyone quickly became relaxed. The fact that the stories were generally quite abstract and fun meant everyone was able to be playful with their contributions. People quickly realized that executing a beautiful drawing was not necessary, the sketches could be as simple possible as long as they clearly communicated an idea. Working in a quick manner meant people were less precious over their work, especially when continuing onto someone else’s narrative. This method of working really helped to promote the skill of collaboration.
I think the workshop could be developed by increasing the timings to allow the participants more scope for detail in their narratives. Inhibiting people from verbally communicating was very interesting and I could sense people wanted to talk, perhaps given more time they would have more confidence in their own interpretations. As a follow up activity participants could be placed in their groups and asked to develop their outcomes. With further group work the outcomes could be evolved into finished storyboards which could then be applied to an animation or comic zine.
Here are some examples of the narratives created in the 1o minute micro teach.