During the month of October, ArtFx‘s first year students were entrusted to me for one week. A week of courses during which they had to face a challenge together: working in a group around a specific theme.
Phase 1: The Preparation
In randomly chosen groups, these charming newbies discover the joys of developing a project within a very short time period while dealing with a significant number of constraints.
First, they are given the theorectical part in order to arm them for the pending ordeal. Next, this theorectical part is put into practice during the week thanks to the delivery of production documents with respect to given deadlines.
[bquote]« Me, I wanted to work on the computer… » This quote is from a student who wishes to remain anonymous.[/bquote]
One of the particular points of this course is the ultimate constraint: not being able to use the computer during the week. In fact, the week is placed under the auspices of the patron saint of handymen: MacGyver.
The students have to use their hands and resourcefullness to complete their tasks. The main goal being to obtain the best result possible while fiddling, cheating and rigging things to attain the desired effect.
Another point of concern is the preparation of the work designs before the adventure starts. These documents are of course created by hand, without the possiblity of using CTRL + Z, Ctrl + C or Ctrl + V. The smallest error is therefore anticipated in order to avoid marring the pages with white-out.
Phase 2: Project Comprehension
This year, the challenge was the size! Room 7 (or SC7 for those in the know) had to completely disappear in honor of a 4th world. This new universe contained a decor, props and a personality. All of which served to create an interactive story.
Each of the two classes was divided into 4 groups of 6 to 7 students. The first class had to create a post-apocalypytic universe and the second a world of horror.
n order to be sure the students understood how to approach these two genres, we brainstormed around literary and B-film treatments of these two worlds. Next, each group was able to propose a unique concept.
Once the concepts were validated, they were able to begin their adventure.
Phase 3: Planning
[bquote]« I love it when a plan comes together! » to quote Hannibal Smith, A-Team.[/bquote]
In the course of this phase, the students must plan for everything and connect with their projects: who is doing what, how should it be organized? Are the existential questions answered in their reference manual: the project bible.
In order to avoid running head first into the project, a distribution of responsibilities is essential. In this way, they discover the joys of project management, organizational, human and non-human issues.
Phase 4: The Prototype
Each project contains one or more essential elements that must be tested as early as possible in order to be sure that it will function properly.
The choice of elements that must be tested is completely at the discretion of the group. This immediately tests their ability to anticipate problems and their adaptability in the case of failure (because, of course, a prototype can fail, if it is poorly designed or doesn’t achieve the desired effect.)
This phase also test production methods. In this case, the groups are able to find ways to improve or modify certain choices around the materials, division of tasks or final touches.
Phase 5: The production
From this moment on, it’s war! No more time to think, one now needs to be efficient! There is now limited time to complete the project and the first signs of fatigue start to show.
Happily, during the course of this intense phase, the chemistry of the project starts to bear fruit and the students are able to see beginning examples of the final objective. The students’ personalities start to really come out at this point. The final adjustments create a stressful, but goodhumored atmophere.
Phase 6: The result
The last day is reserved for ArtFx students and teachers and staff convene to see the universe and particpate in the experience.
It is at this moment that the first year students truly understand all the work that they have done. The entire school happily enters this new universe.
The week concludes with a debriefing exercise around the experience. Whatever obstacles they encountered, problems they resolved or twists of fate that came their way,the idea is to talk about these things and share these experiences with the class. Emphasis is put on finding solutions for the students and providing the most education within the least intense but most profound experience.
[small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]