In my day job as an e-learning advisor at Roehampton university, my role is to advise lecturers on the best technology to use for teaching their subjects. Most the time this is something electronic, for example a forum or a blog, or a video camera, but sometimes the best technology is the most basic and I never draw the line at electronic learning tools.
This term I was asked by a lecturer to suggest the ideal tool for getting students to express their feelings about an event that happened to them at school when they were younger. I wanted for the students to be able to reflect on this experience and to use whatever they had to hand to express how the event made them feel, without fear of criticism.
For me, postcards have been an ideal vehicle for learning to express myself. The almost-anonymous nature of postcards (you choose whether to sign them or not) and the idea that the recipient is separated from us by time and distance has this effect of freeing the artist to express themselves in a way that real-time social media and face-to-face interactions can’t, yet it still reaches out and makes a connection. For some applications, like Postsecret, this is perfect, and so I decided to suggest postcards for this project.
The idea is for students to illustrate on 5 6×4 inch postcards an experience or series of experiences which happened to them in school that they can remember. After they have done so, they will send these images in to their lecturer and share the experiences if they wish.
This idea came from a lesson I taught while I was schools, and so I showed pictures from this to the students and postcards which have been sent by you to my REAL wall to illustrate what kinds of stories you could tell using the limited size of a postcard.
I volunteered to introduce the postcard picture story project to the students and on Tuesday and Thursday, I went in to the classroom to present to 2 sets of classes, starting with an introduction to my REAL wall and human-human communications in the digital age and moved on to tales of teaching from my past, finally ending up on the task at hand, which was the creation of the 5 picture stories.
The students were really excited at the prospect of sending post and the talks seemed to go down really well. I was asked by the students for some tips on how to get into sending post and I recommended Postcrossing as a good place to start as well as of course, looking on the sidebar of my REAL wall for some great postal folk. In addition, I’ve added a link to my article “How to make your mailbox more interesting” in the sidebar, so if anyone does want more than bills in their postbox next week, why not give it a read.
Looking forward to seeing what delights the students produce and if I get permission I will stick some of the best right up here on this site.
When I was at school, I used to love writing stories until the day that I wrote a literary criticism of Macbeth for English literature, in which I drew parallels with the Ninja clans of ancient Japan. My English teacher ripped it to pieces verbally and I never wrote again. Perhaps I’ll make a mailart piece about that some day…