Story-based and research-informed approaches to teaching and learning.
Shortly after completing my PhD, I began developing story-based approaches to teaching and learning. This coincided with the Covid pandemic which prompted universities to adopt 'blended learning', an approach that saw students either fully or partially taught online. The education system faced a lot of challenges, but I saw opportunities for change. It's a rare thing to be confronted with creative openings in the ceaseless cycle of plans and activities that underpin each academic year. I began to look for new ways to engage students that didn't involve standard briefs and classroom activities, and I began to ask some tough questions about current approaches to education.
- • Are current approaches to education compatible with the way young people now interact with the world, take-in information and learn new skills?
- • Do universities teach in ways that fit the needs of students, or do they teach in ways that fit the needs of tutors and the limitations of institutional administrative systems?
Design students learn best when they give themselves permission to engage in play. Designer Islands is a digital, story-based, game-like teaching tool and learning resource. It's aim is to let students of design learn in their own time and in their own way. The resource is built on a wiki platform. Students engage with it in the same way that they would engage in a board game or video game. The home page sets the scene for an epic journey of discovery that begins with the student being cast away on a remote archipelago. In order for them to achieve their goal of becoming a great designer they have to listen to stories told to them by the inhabitants of four of the islands, and meet four different kinds of challenges.
- • builds confidence in making choices,
- • encourages independent and self-initiated learning,
- • gives students different ways to acquire knowledge and skills