Researching and designing learning environments with Internet technologyfor childrenAlice C. Mello Cavallo, Alva L. Couch, Downing Cless, Marina BersTufts University Arts, Sciences, and EngineeringDepartments of Computer Science, Drama and Dance, Child Development.
What is Forum Theater ? • Augusto Boal • Bertolt Brecht • Paulo Freire
What is Virtual Forum Theatre? • Web-based environment for creating collaborative digital drama. • Digital drama is a multimedia presentation of a dramatic play using digital means, including audio, images, and video. • An open constructionist learning environment, or microworld (Papert, 1990). • A Computer Supported Collaborative Learning -CSCL and multi-user virtual environment – MUVE. • Based on Forum Theater (Boal, 1974). • Safe environment in which to play out different responses to conflict.
Goals of qualitative research • Understand how Internet-based drama learning environments can enhance learning of expressive fluency, argumentation skills and self-confidence in disenfranchised children. • Work with those children to develop their technological fluency through expressive arts, and at the same time help them to develop a critical awareness and a rehearsal for social change.
Research questions • How does learning take place in this technology/theater environment with respect to developmental stages? • What are the distinctions between learning in a virtual, Internet based one? How does the technology help this process? • How can we design on-line collaborative environments that are sufficiently open and powerful to facilitate such learning interactions?
Why VFT • Disadvantaged children usually do not have the possibility to communicate or express themselves freely. • This might impact the full development of their argumentation skills and problem solving. They might become shy and apathetic. • VFT can give them one vehicle with which to improve their expressive fluency. • VFT aims to establish an electronic environment of free expression that exploits and builds upon the anonymous characteristics of Internet interactions. • At the same time children can become more acquainted with the technology that might be essential for their future work life.
VFT will allow participants to : choose pictures from an existing gallery of characters, props and scenery import pictures of props, scenery and characters draw props, scenery and characters create and animate own characters video tape the whole play using web-cams modify existing frames of the actions and dialogs play the dramatic production on web-browsers
Children physically located in widely separated areas can: • share their experience with others in the same situation, • safely elaborate their struggles, • pursue points of view and formulate solutions to the same kind of problems that their peers experience in another part of the town, state or country in which they live.
suggest a change in frames of actions via web chat • role-playing and trials of solutions to conflicted and oppressive environments. • propose a new on-line solution to an existing conflict. • interact with peers on the WWW in order to help validate or invalidate the solution. This allows us study the extent to which this online validation works in aiding children in the process of expressing themselves.
Audience • Target audience for our study is minority children age 10 to 13 : Brazilian, Afro-American and Latino. • Otherwise: • Any school age children, especially the most shy ones. • Existing Theater of the Oppressed groups. • People who want help with personal issues.
Qualitative Methods • Based on Qualitative Research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (Strauss 1998). Utilize the “soft-nosed” positivistic approach (Miles & Huberman, 1994), and ethnographic analyses (Spradley,1980) as needed. • Interview children, survey their peers and parents, videotape workshops with children; create transcripts of their work and computer generated logs of their creation and interactions. • Analyze and interpret their play and how they interact over the Internet when creating it in order to understand their learning progress.
Problems • Do we get IRB approval ? • Do we have enough time to finish the prototype ?
Conclusion • Through this applied research we will create a mini study in order to verify the theoretical background and how the children interact with the prototype. • We expect our qualitative study to show positive and effective results in the learning of expressive arts, engagement and self-confidence through the use of VFT. • We hope to get enough feedback from the children in order to adjust our design and future implementations.