By Carlos Arnaldo
In an online learning situation, it is almost too easy to fall into a rut of fruitless repetition, meaningless questions on quizzes, or difficult to correct and calculate essay questions. Being creative is always a frontline challenge in ordinary teaching, but more so in online education.
In many language courses, including English, one has to learn how to fill out subscriptions, personal data, and other forms of application.
When I teach French, I propose a list of information items that the students must translate and respond to. Yes, admittedly, very boring.
But next, I say “Suppose you are aiming at an internship at Sofitel Hotel on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, can you offer them your ‘carte de visite’ (business card) in French? If it is well done, you will likely get that internship. So convert all that personal information you gathered and place what you think is important on a business card. You can add your photo, a sketch, or design, choose your colors, etc. But make a card which will win you an internship.”
The results were very innovative. One student had a sketch of a French croissant, and her name was handwritten on the open face of the card colored beige like a half baked dough: ‘Pam – goutez mes croissants’ (taste my croissants). On the back of the card, she put her contact information. Pam was hoping to e assistant chef in the Softel kitchen!
Another chose a white sketched front desk and text over a black background, with her name: ‘Angelique, Concierge Adjointe’ (front desk assistant). She was aiming at working at the front desk!
Overall most of the cartes de visite were creative attractive and informative. The cards themselves were a sort of badge of achievement in the French language, and consequently a useful visa for an internship.
In another lesson, the students learned the words and phrases for shopping, getting a bargain, choosing gifts. For the exercise, I said, “Christmas is coming in a month, but you have a limited budget for your whole family, friends and anyone special. What will you do?”
One, a Culinary Arts student, said he is from a large family, so he will get a turkey and roast it, offering a whole evening meal of roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, kalabasa soup and pecan pie for their Noche Buena.
Another had a talent for designing and making accessories in leather. She proposed a series of wallets, pouches for cell phones, and book covers. One girl decided to bake batches of her special butter cookies and package them in small tin boxes tied with a ribbon.
It takes more thought and imagination to design creative exercises for online learning, but the results are certainly worth it, and most likely, this creative sense will greatly stimulate learning.*