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Darren Page –  School of Fine & Performing Arts – Lecturer Staff Profile

Introduction

The aim of asynchronous learning in ‘Writing for the Stage’ was to replicate workshop content without the presence of the tutor. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a workshop group of fourteen needed to be split into two groups to meet room capacity restrictions. This required some content to be delivered asynchronously. The aim was to create meaningful, engaged and stimulating content for helping to generate, redraft, critique, and situate/understand Writing for the Stage. To help students understand more about performance writing and how the assessment was marked and assessed, we looked at different approaches to ensure efficiency and a continuous flow of learning.

Implementation

To help students analyse and break down their assessment needs we decided that asynchronous tasks should be produced to accompany a face-to-face, tutor-led workshop. The first half of the semester was geared towards workshopping the pillars of writing for the stage. This included building understanding of key dramatic components such as character, plot, form, time, structure, and the role of audience within live performance. From this, work was geared towards wider considerations of the ‘theatrical’…Specifically looking at the ‘liveness’ of ‘theatre’ as a conduit for text.

Once this was considered, text was then explored through other modes of live performance…including (but not limited to); the removal of dramatic narrative, redefining (or removing) character, the presence of the writer within the work and wider roles and scope for collaboration with a live audience. Tasks were often reflective and/or expansive of workshop content and existed to help writers generate, edit, and reflect upon their own writing.

To support the student’s development, understanding of assessment and to help initiate discussion, all asynchronous instructions/guides were typed up in PowerPoint format, typically juxtaposed next to images to help provoke and stimulate writing exercises. To help students develop a deeper understanding of how to situate their writing, students were encouraged to elaborate on their own generated content by reviewing Teams recordings, archived ‘live chat’ material, or work that was conducted via student responses to questions in Poll Everywhere.

Exercises included (but were not limited to)…

  • Reviewing a script at different stages of the drafting process, establishing what steps were taken by the writer during the process of redrafting.
  • Setting specific philosophical/socio-political questions, and asking students to explore their answers through writing exercises.
  • Combining other art forms as stimuli (such as image or music) and writing a response.

Outcomes and benefits

The main reasons for providing such instructions for asynchronous work is to ensure that it fully encapsulates an exploration of the workshop content and learning outcomes (as deigned in the teaching plan). This was designed to bridge the gap between online and face to face session to ensure a continuous flow of learning from one activity to the next was maintained. It was also important to establish a distinct difference between asynchronous workshop activity and wider ‘out of class’ work around drafting scripts/reading material for discussion within seminars.

This helped to support:

  • Empowering students to understand, in greater depths, how their assessment was structured through modelling, reflection and discussion
  • Independent work and skills
  • Discussion and idea generation
  • Research, reflect and enhance their content

Resources

Online Teaching & Learning: For ideas relating to asynchronous and synchronous teaching & Learning, please see this page: Online Teaching & Learning – Digital Education Support (lincoln.ac.uk)

Microsoft Teams: For support on using Teams for teaching and learning please see this page: Resources Hub: Microsoft Teams – Digital Education Support (lincoln.ac.uk)

Collaborate Ultra: For support on using Collaborate Ultra please see this page: Resources Hub: Collaborate Ultra – Digital Education Support (lincoln.ac.uk)