Category: Welcome to Improv

These writings focus on teaching problem-solving, heuristics, communication and prototyping through improvisatory exercises and activities.

Choice and the Role of the Coach in Presentation

The motivation to write this week is that I’ve seen too many novice presenters who have been turned off from presenting because of negative and/or unhelpful feedback they have received in the past. Rushing to the defence of the critic, it’s only human nature to yell “speak louder” or “I can’t hear you”. However, presenting…

An attempt to make the outline for an Improv course even longer

Creative and Collaborative Challenges are coming…… Interdisciplinary Improvisation is not your typical course nor does it adhere to the literal constraints of a course outline. No matter how well I pre-organize and communicate the 13 sessions that you’ll experience in advance, as soon as we interact, the outline will change. There’s a reason for this…

Disrupting the Assumption of Collaboration

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Why should we assume that collaboration means the same thing to different people? Is it enough to say that I’m a good collaborator without really defining what that means. We’ve all had different experiences so will likely define a good collaboration differently.

One Solution

One of the strategic exercises that I facilitate at the Master of Digital Media Program is ‘What an Ideal Collaboration Looks Like’. In this visual exercise, individual learners are tasked with drawing what a good collaboration looks like to them, including all the qualities they expect from those they collaborate with. Afterwards, each person shares it out with the group. This is to challenge collaborators to articulate those mechanics that make for a successful collaboration—to speak it out loud in front of those that they will collaborate with. There are common themes that arise, like respect, trust, listening, etc.. Facilitating this exercise allows learners to make their assumptions known and can inform Rules of Play when they collaborate with one another.

Does it work? For the most part the exercise is good at uncovering our own biases, but ending there is usually not completely satisfying. That’s because we need to then bring our notions of what a good collaboration is, to an actual collaborative project.

Reflection

The more experience you have collaborating, the more articulate you can be about what a good collaboration looks like when you meet your future collaborators. We also need to reflect equally on both positive and negative experiences and understand how they’ve informed our biases. Lastly, no matter how clear we are when we enter a collaboration, without agreeing to Rules of Play where we can align with behaviours we find acceptable and those we do not, as well as taking the time to constantly refine them when someone is not aligned,  we may end up in situations that are not so ideal any more. Instead, we end up brushing them under the carpet—put up with the situation (and the individual(s)) instead of dealing with the behaviour and the underlying root cause of it. Consider the next time you collaborate as an opportunity for you and others to articulate what collaboration means and translate these into aligned Rules of Play that contribute towards building team culture. In the process of taking the time to do this, you will actually save time in the long run—the time and energy it takes to resolve uncommunicated expectations, the time taken to re-align values that were never defined, the time taken away from your actual deliverable.

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Disrupting the Classroom

This video shot at the  Masters of Digital Media Program by learners who over the years have contributed to the disruption of teaching and learning. The video gives you a taste of different methods of engaging learners in order to promote a teaching and learning environment that is collaborative and self-reflexive. A free download of an excerpt of…

Reverse Engineering a Class

I’m trying something new for my class this first week of November. I’m going to reverse engineer the next Interdisciplinary Improvisation class that I teach for the Master of Digital Media Program—one that disassembles and analyzes the inner workings of what I’m going to teach in a reckless (and likely impossible) attempt to answer, “Why would you teach…