Deanne Joosten loves teaching drama and has been able to build capacity by delivering her VCE program to other schools using technology. Deanne taught VCE Drama (Units 3 and 4) to four schools simultaneously in 2014, with students all in the one class, connected via video link using the tool freely available to DET teachers, MS Lync. In 2015 she was endorsed as a Microsoft Innovative Educator, one of 35 across Australia and New Zealand, and has received a Drama Victoria award for innovative curriculum.
Deanne explains why she teaches virtual drama: "Distance Education is quite common. Theoretical subjects are often taught via video link, but practical subjects like drama aren't as much. I'm interested in technology and drama - they're two of my passions - so I thought why not give this a go."
With 700kms between schools, Deanne teaches Phoenix students face-to-face, with students from Mansfield, Lake Bolac and Goroke joining via MS Lync. The class is also supported through the use of a website and a wide variety of online tools which enable the students to engage and collaborate.
Students were able to form small groups via the video link, and perform together through the screens. Students are able to manipulate the technology within their performances. There were scheduled workshop days each term where the students travelled to rehearse in person, and came together for their end-of-year assessment.
Deanne said the video conferencing did have its challenges at times, but the students were supportive and happy to give things a go. The students were quick to adapt to a 21st Century Learning Design approach and felt that the use of technology enabled them to learn in a way different to other classes. As a subject Drama and Theatre Studies place great emphasis on collaboration. Taking that skill and enhancing it with technology was the part that Deanne found most exciting. The wide variety of virtual conferencing tools now available enable teachers to connect and engage their students in exciting and innovative ways."
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