A Creative-visual and Intercultural-related Workshop at UCLan
In this post, I will share my experience of giving an intercultural-related workshop by using creative visual methods at the University of Central Lancashire.
(Fun facts: the two flowers are Lancashire roses.)
Following the IALIC conference in Beijing, UCLan invited Kelly and me to give a 3 hours workshop for their students. The main purpose of the workshop was to provoke students’ thinking about intercultural communication through creative-visual activities. The students were a mixture of diverse cultures, languages, ages and levels (e.g UG and PG). Below, I add some pictures of them participating in the workshop.
We carried out three creative-visual activities: ‘blind’-portrait, a map of intercultural journey, and film-postcard. The students responded to these activities very positively. We were also continuously stunned and inspired by their creativity and meaning-making ability. Their course leader and lecturer gave us feedback saying that they were happy to see the students who were usually quiet in the class was active in the workshop. Below, I share with you some of the paintings created by these students – as insightful individuals:
The intra-personal- and interpersonal- interconnectivity in intercultural communication – by Y.Y.Y
The ever-changing ‘weather’ in intercultural communication – by Q.S.
My main reflections of the experience this time are:
a) The Audience:
It is not a easy work to always keep ‘who is the audience?’ in mind when we plan for a talk/seminar/class. I am practising it and still find it quite challenging. I was informed that the students will be a mixture of nationalities with different levels of English language skills. Then, I thought our use of visual methods will be suitable for the audience as the visuals could assist their language expressions. It also turns out that the students were very happy with the visual activities.
However, wearing my own research hat, it is my first-time experience to present/use my study with a group of audience most of whom are not from academic-backgrounds. Although we only use 30 minutes to present our studies in the 3 hours workshop, many of the students still seemed to be more interested in the activities than a dry talk. A student also suggested me to do the activities with them first. When they found the activities interesting and had got more involved with the topic, we could then give a short presentation in the end – serving as a summary, a theoretical debriefing or an extended stimulation.
b) From Methodology to Pedagogy:
It was a really interesting experience for me to convert my research methods into a practical teaching method in the classroom. It required me to shift my research-oriented thinking to be educational-oriented. When I used creative visuals as a research method, my focus was on maximising the insights that they could enable from my participants. Nevertheless, when I used them as a teaching method, I had to hold myself back in the aspect of desiring and attempting to dig out interesting answers from the students. On the contrary, I tried to focus on maximising the educational potential (e.g. to provoke thinking, understanding, and reflection) that the activities could enable for the students. With this shift of moving from thinking as a researcher (i.e. What can I learn from the data?) to thinking as a teacher (i.e. What can the students learn from the activities?), I changed the way how I asked questions in the activities. I also added more prompts for the students to think/reflect rather than to enable them to give a satisfactory answer right away.