My Adventure Continues or The Horses Are Drinking.

I am sure this is a terrible title for the post but as it’s a staging-post post on a journey, it works for me. The journey is the one that this blog is charting … my adventures in online teaching and learning. For a while now, and through various courses I’ve taught, I’ve been concerned at student resistance to the whole online learning experience. I recognise this can be for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. This morning turned things round for me a bit.

One of the projects I’ve been leading with my class has been getting final semester actors in training to think strategically about themselves as ‘a small business on two legs.’ Making the transition from the relatively cosy world of the student, to the looking for or the out of work actor is hard enough, so getting as many hand-holds on the business side of things is vital to increase your chances.

Our theme of self-promotion has gone beyond producing the typical actor’s hard copy C-V and 10×8 head shot photo, into creating an online portfolio, a global one-stop shop for potential employers and collaborators, where video and still images, sound files and contact details can all be housed and updated in an instant.

What was nice this morning (Week 5 of the project) was hearing them report on their group collaborative efforts thus far. One of the tasks was to create a website for ‘Anne Actor.’ They had to find the best platform to create her portfolio and to promote her ‘business.’ During class, each group took us through the pros and cons of various applications, discussed good and bad looking sites, made recommendations, and as they did so, I realised I had the horses drinking at last. I’d led them to the web trough a month or more ago, and for the first 4 weeks dealt with a wave of resistance from many. This was, of course born more out of anxiety and lack of experience than anything else. They needed to play with (good/reliable/easy to use) tools for awhile. Memo to self: softly softly catchee digiphobic monkey.

Each student is now off and running in researching the pros and cons of domain hosting with various sites, swapping tips on costs, hidden traps like pop-up ads (bad for your business site), and just generally discussing what makes for a good website … they are creatives after all, and know the value of good design. I got a strong sense of their growing confidence at this point; the self-directed learning had begun. The project will formally conclude at the end of this semester as their sites go live. I’m keen to see how this project plays out.

Whilst it didn’t get a guernsey in terms of being the site of choice for a portfolio, all students are delighted at the potential of Facebook as a networking tool amongst the local and wider acting community. Most are already hooked up with graduates working professionally, with more ‘friends’ arriving daily.

As I walked away from the lab with one of the class, she told me how Facebook had in fact turned around many of her friends’ resistance to getting online and communicating. ‘They love it. It’s easy! Its fun.’ Food for thought.


2 responses to “My Adventure Continues or The Horses Are Drinking.”

  1. Sue Waters Avatar
    Sue Waters

    Hi Kate

    Actually I like the name of your post and at the moment can really relate to it. Decided to take my students out of the cosy confines of their WebCT account onto the net so they could gain from social networking and collaborating. Was the first day and a bit of a struggle – made worse but slow Internet connections due to content filtering.

    So am glad to hear that your struggles are making progress because really important for them.


  2. Christine Avatar

    Hi Kate,
    Have any tips for what helps get people over the hump? I’m trying to help older professionals see the value of their online brand, and a lot of these technologies scare them. Share more about helping people make the transition!

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