Consequence remediation is a value element of interactive instruction. To provide an environment for consequence remediation, the educator may design a lesson much like a theatrical production. Kenny and Worth (2009) assert that, “Like with interactive performing, a properly implemented interactive teaching approach combines the richness of rehearsed (i.e., planned) material, the spontaneity of improvisation, and the empowerment of participation.” One needs only to visit any comedy club to witness this combination of elements actively engage an audience. This profound analogy to theatrical performance continues to have applicability today, even as we move away from the sage on the stage approach to teaching. For this reason, it deserves elaboration.
Regardless of the medium used, educators must maintain control of the learning environment. We have to ensure that the objectives of the lesson are discussed. In many instances, this must follow some chronological order of introduction to allow for effective assimilation or scaffolding for schema building. Thus, we must facilitate the topic by ensuring that discussions are focused, instead of tangential. This is true of both traditional and contemporary learning environments, but in any environment the learner must be empowered as a participant. This requires communication channels.
Empowerment of Participation
Instead of a single two-way communication between one instructor and one student, multiple communication channels must be available within the learning environment. As a means of facilitating participation, the instructor should ask more questions than he or she answers. Benefits of this approach include verification of knowledge, instantaneous formative feedback, and purposeful routing of the conversation. For superior feedback, the educator should choose the least participative or seemingly least engaged student to ascertain if objectives are clearly understood. Participation should be praised, without regard to whether or not the response is correct. From this, improvisation occurs, as needed, to either redefine or promote higher order thinking skills by building on the response.
While one may view the need for improvisation to be obvious, this is truly where skill must be developed. Whether a student’s response is correct or not, consequence remediation demands that an instructor know how to mold the idea from translucence until there is absolute clarity for everyone. Astute educators can revert to improvisation for this clarification. In this lies an element of planning- despite the spontaneity suggested by the term. Those with experience in a particular discipline should be able to anticipate potential errors before they are made and contingency plans for elucidation are sensible. Regardless, one must be able to instantaneously evaluate what is known and unknown, based on the formative feedback generated during their participation, to competently clear up the topic.
Other components directly related to our theatrical analogy also deserve consideration in the design of interactive learning environments with consequence remediation. These include a need for aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and acts.
While an appropriate audio sequence is necessary to support psychological and pedagogical theories, there is also a need for supplemental material to reach visual learners. Even in comedy clubs and other theatres, at least a basic scene exists to complement the presentation. These pictorial aids can be used to reinforce concepts on an impromptu basis if the formative feedback reveals a need. This, again, relies upon experience. If we anticipate faulty logic, we can give examples of the unintended outcomes.
Adaptive Capabilities for Access
We should also recognize a need for a universal design in planning interactive learning environments. The theatre that provides no means of access to handicap patrons would not be able to touch everyone. Similarly, a lesson that ignores those with certain learning disabilities will not be most successful. One may have to perform the correct and incorrect actions, instead of hear them, for consequence remediation to be effective. There should be opportunities for redemption following failed attempts at doing, similar to ongoing encouragement for participation following incorrect responses.
Even the most engaging performer would fail in an environment that did not provide adequate periods for refreshment. Therefore, theatre subdivides the performance into acts. This premise of time-limitation holds true in the educational environment, but the expression typically changes to modules. While the educator making effective use of an interactive learning environment may retain the attention of the audience, a periodic break is warranted during long presentation. In addition to allowing for refreshment (satisfaction of basic physiological needs) between modules, the learner can use this time for reflection on the information received. Peer collaboration should be encouraged during this time. With a culture of supportive correction created through consequence remediation, peers may demonstrate altruism during these competitive periods of discussion, whether in person or in an online discussion board.
Even with recommendations to be a guide on the side, the educator acting in the role of facilitator must be vigilant to incorporate multiple aesthetics, communication channels, temporal limitations, and other elements discussed herein during instructional design. Engaging the audience and promoting interactivity allows for consequence remediation through improvisational methods of clarification. This will result in a magnificent presentation that reaches learners with multiple styles and preferences for learning.
Kenny, R.F. & Wirth, J. (2009). Implementing participatory, constructivist learning experiences through best practices in live interactive performance. The Journal of Effective Teaching, Volume 9 (1). Retrieved from http://uncw.edu/cte/et/articles/Vol9_1/Kenny.htm