I recently designed a course called COLLABORATORIES and this is the first time it is being offered. Since this is the first iteration, I am learning as I plan and engage in class sessions. The objective of the course is to serve as an experimental lab for collaboration and dialogue. The course relies on lecturing to the minimal and activity and dialogue based learning to the maximum. The idea of the course is to build activities with tangible materials/ activities threaded by concepts and collective ideas that the students explore. A sample session would look something like this:
- A group game: (Energy Circle) instructions, followed by a trial version of the game and then the actual game.
- Story building activity: Students worked on a collective 25 word story with a music video for inspiration. The group had to discuss vocabulary and ideas and build a story without the vowel “e” on a theme connected to the concept that they were exploring, a collaborative design thinking model founded on envisioning.
- Students were introduced to a model of appreciative inquiry through a power point presentation. They were then asked to watch related videos in groups and explore what appreciative inquiry meant for them. This was followed by a sharing on what they found interesting about the design thinking model and what they wanted to learn more about it.
- The students then did collective mind-mapping on what topics they would like to explore in the appreciative inquiry model exercise that they will be working on in teams over the next two sessions.
At the end of each session, students share their experiences or responses to specific questions on collaboration and leadership over a discussion forum which is their mode of assessment. The students have been ´given a criteria and rubric model for what the expectations are from the discussion forum.
What demands do you think they put on the student and on you from a languages perspective?
From a language perspective, since the activities involve following instructions (game) or activity, collective brainstorming and dialogue and reflective writing over a discussion forum. It means being able to articulate an idea, engage with peers while guiding the discussion further, It also means being able to write down their thoughts, ideas, experiences and questioning with effectiveness to keep the discussion forum fueled with ideas and thought provoking questions. The course is founded on intercultural dialogue and it means creating a space where all ideas are included and everyone feels empowered in the dialogue process. Language and fluency in language may place its own demands with respect to this and it is interesting to learn and observe how students are focusing on having a meaningful dialogue despite language barriers that may seemingly exist.
How could you improve your EMI teaching practices or methods in order to cater for these demands?
I think a well.-paced session with sufficient time to deliberate, discuss and transition from one activity to another supports the brainstorming, participation and discussion in the class sessions. I have students from five different countries and often they rely on a phone translator to express a particular word or idea in class since for some of them the words are more fluent in their own mother tongue. The discussion forum are filled with well-articulated thoughts, questions and ideas. I feel being able to do it in their own space and time and reading each other posts and related articles are support systems in place for this activity. I feel sharing the objectives and expected learning outcomes are also supportive in including the students in the relevance it holds for them as a learning and as an experience.