7 Teaching Technology: Putting Theory to Practice in the Theatre Education Classroom

Dr. Joshua Streeter

Rationale: What are the instructional problems/opportunities that the proposed project plans to address? To what extent does the project develop deep, meaningful, and reflective learning?

This project addresses the need to prepare teaching artists and pre-service educators with the ability to use technology in the fine arts classroom. Specifically, state and national standards outline that technology in the fine arts classroom should be used for parent-teacher communication, classroom management, assessment, and creative expression. At the moment, technology is not embedding into JMU’s Theatre Education curriculum due to the lack of access to specific technology that would support exploration and application. Allowing JMU pre-service educators to explore and engage with technology within their teaching methods courses is one way to help prepare students for the field. (Local school districts, such as Rockingham County, are one-to-one districts, which means the schools provide all students with their own laptop, notebook, tablet computer, or other mobile-computing device.) At the moment, students are asked to use their own phones for class demonstrations. The proposed project considers equity, access, and inclusion in the university classroom in order to meet course and state objectives.

Instructional design and implementation plan: What are the instructional design principles or previous evidence that you heard or read about that can help the design of proposed project? How will you or your team ensure the implementation process? What instructional design and technology support will you need to implement the project?

Teachers, schools, and districts have been utilizing iPads apps in order to increase student engagement and parent-teacher communication. Most interestingly a few apps have been widely used by schools to support assessment and classroom management. Teachers gravitate towards iPads because various apps can be downloaded to support different needs. Most importantly, technology is providing one way to adapt and modify lessons to support different learners in the classroom (English as a Second Language students for example). Many local schools are using iPad apps as part of their daily routine. (Stone Spring Elementary and Young Children’s Program in Harrisonburg are using the app Seesaw to document learning experiences and share them with families.)

For the proposed project, specific iPad apps will be used in the university classroom to support moving from theory to practice. This allows JMU pre-service educators to play with and test out the technology before applying it in the local K-12 classroom with youth. The focus of using technology for creative expression, as a classroom management tool, and for engagement in the classroom will be used across the three methods courses within the Theatre Education Licensure Program (THEA 320 Primary Methods, THEA 321 Secondary Methods, and THEA 325 Teaching Practicum). For the implementation process, within each methods course (THEA 320, 321, and 325) the instructor will focus on using one app consistently and pervasively. In addition, within each methods course (THEA 320, 321, and 325) the instructor will focus on using technology as a means of creative expression. At the moment, no instructional design and technology support will be needed beyond the basic set-up of the iPads. JMU students will not be able to use the iPads without instructor supervision or outside of the university course.

Project Transferability: How do you envision adapting this project to another class that you or your colleagues teach? How do you envision that the creative teaching methods can be transferrable to other disciplines?

iPads as a classroom learning tool will also be utilized in the Youth Theatre (THEA 323) and Theatre for Young Audiences (THEA 310) course. In the Youth Theatre course, student will utilize the iPads for hands-on learning experiences when studying Digital Storytelling. Specifically, we look at the theory and practice presented by Dr. Megan Alrutz who consider digital storytelling as an applied theatre practice with youth. iPads will allow us to explore digital storytelling together in the classroom and possibly engage with youth in community projects outside the classroom as a class project. (https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Storytelling-Applied-Theatre-Youth-ebook/dp/B00O1PQHAW)

Additionally, in the Theatre for Young Audiences course, we will utilize the iPads when designing audience engagement plans. We specifically study the six types of audience members presented in “Making Sense of Audience Engagement” and develop engagement for each audience type. At the moment, we only explore the “technology-based processor” in theory. iPads will allow us to explore how to create engagement for and with technology-based processors. (https://galachoruses.org/sites/default/files/Barun-Making_Sense_of_Audience_Engagement.pdf) These creative teaching methods can be transferred to other courses in music education, dance education, visual art education, elementary education, and secondary education.

Innovative and creative teaching outcomes: What are the anticipated outcome(s) of the project? What evidence would you collect to measure the outcome(s)? What evidence would you collect to assess the sustainability and transferability of this project?

The Theatre Education Licensure Program focuses on arts-based assessment and portfolio documentation. Through the use of iPad apps, university students would be able to document their learning (putting theory to practice). This authentic assessment would serve to both help a student understand how the app can be used for arts-based and portfolio assessments, but also provide the ability to reflect on the experience as users of the app in order to understand the experience of the students. In addition, students will complete technology surveys to analyze the app for classroom use. Finally, students will also identify how to use technology in their in-class demonstrations (practice teaching). This will be done through a three-step model: lesson planning, teaching, revision/reflection. This documentation can be collected and used as assessment data.

Result dissemination plan: How will you share the design, implementation and outcomes of this project? What journals, conferences, or other venues might be appropriate spaces for the dissemination of your work? How can your practice offer examples or suggestions for other peer instructors?

While technology is a large part of schools in the 21st century, it is rarely a part of the fine arts classroom. For this reason, I would like to present this project (utilizing technology in the pre-service theatre education classroom) at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education National conference. This conference highlights innovative practices in college classrooms in the fields of applied theatre, drama education, theatre education, and theatre for young audiences. In addition, I can present my work to the fine arts education liaisons in dance education, music education, and visual art education at JMU.

Logistics and Resources Plan: To what extent does your project depend on additional fiscal, teaching, space, or other resources? What logistical constraints or dependencies might you face in implementing this project, and how do you propose addressing them?

The project is dependent on financial resources. If less funding is approved, we can move forward with the project with fewer iPads, but the design of the study will be compromised as student groups would be between 6-8 students with two iPads for example.

The project is not dependent on space or teaching resources as the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts is set-up with wi-fi throughout the building and the instructor of the theatre education courses is willing and able to embed iPads into course curriculum.

Research design and data analysis plan: If you receive the ACT grant, what is the timeline you envision for securing any additional necessary resources, applying for IRB, making the necessary purchases, implementing any pedagogical/scaffolding strategies, collecting data, analyzing data, disseminating the results, and writing up a description of your project for the Pressbook eBook (see below)?

  • Nov/Dec 2018 Order Technology
  • Dec 2018 Revise Curriculum for Spring Courses to Include Technology Component
  • Jan-Apr 2019 Teach THEA 321 and THEA 310
  • May 2019 Revise Curriculum for Fall Courses to Include Technology Component
  • May 2019 Write Pressbook eBook Article
  • Jun-July 2019 Analyze Data from Spring Semester
  • Aug 2019 Present at American Alliance for Theatre and Education Conference
  • Aug-Dec 2019 Teach THEA 325 and THEA 320