Saturday 18 June 2016

Enriching the Plot - through film

This week, our first year of the Vice Chancellor's Leadership programme at Winchester came to an end. We concluded with a day of reflection, planning and celebration. As part of that, we invited participants to work in groups to make a film, summarising their learning from the year.

It is a challenge I often set groups, and I am almost always impressed by the creativity they bring to the task. This year at Winchester, we were treated to a Lego movie, a silent movie, an animated alphabet of learning, and a trip along a wonderful model/map of their learning journey.

But I was reflecting on another aspect of this task, this year, in the light of my recently completed book (did I mention I'd written a book?...)  At the end of a programme like this, people will naturally have many stories about it available to them; some parts were better than others, some days less useful than the very best, and so on. Likewise, different members of the group will have different stories about it too. In an academic context, and one in which we have run a pilot programme and are seeking feedback to improve it, there is a risk that the critical comments may come to the fore.

Yet in terms of sustained learning from the programme, and in particular in terms of a continuing sense of agency, which I see as a significant benefit from this particular programme, such a story is not the most helpful one for people to leave with.

So one of the benefits of the film-making (as well as being a lot of fun, which helps to meet the 'celebratory' part of the brief for the day) is that it focuses on the positive learning, and by the process of developing a storyboard, builds a narrative structure for that learning - a story. Then, by translating that narrative structure into an entertaining piece of film, participants strengthen that story in their own minds: enriching the plot, as I term it in my model.

So my hope is that participants will take away that positive story, as encapsulated both in the film and in the enjoyable and energising process of making the film; and that will the their dominant story about the programme: a story that will help them to retain and apply the positive learning from the programme with an enhanced sense of agency.

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