Vivien Holmes, Pamela Taylor-Barnett: The power of narrative – immersive video/audio work with students

by Paul Maharg on 16/08/2017

Vivien and Pamela presented on the work they’re doing on using video clips to enhance the approaches taken by Mary Gentile in her educational design work and in her fine book, Giving Voice to Values.  The video excerpts, produced in ANU College of Law, are well-acted, short piece-to-camera, direct and powerful. Students watch them, then with their mentors they practise having conversations where they enact what they would say and do as if in the situation of addressing the persons in the video.

The GVV approach was scaffolded into conversations with students, with a number of issues arising from the conversations that analysed how the subjects in the video clips framed issues, how the lawyer could reframe the problem to enable the student lawyer to act; what rationalisations are at stake; how will you, as lawyer, counter client or supervisor’s rationalisations; and finally which levers can you pull to increase the likelihood the person will act ethically?

The approach is structured to help students first understand the legal rule that should be brought to bear on the issue, and secondly, to be able to act in such a way as to achieve some kind of ethical outcome.  This approach to learning ethics, through ethical learning, is fascinating and an interesting development when set beside SC methods.  It raises questions such as how can we use immersive video with SCs; are there ways to splice video with SCs; are there ways we can prepare students using this method for the SC encounter?  Possibly use these video clips as witness statements or as videos of other, legally-relevant interviews?  Lots of potential extensions to the SC method here.  It reminded me of Brechtian dramatic techniques, and especially the work of Augusto Boal, which I’ve referenced in other posts in this blog, where the improv drama on the stage is stopped, and the audience become participants in the action.  How could we use that with SCs?  What sort of training would we need for that?  Lots of fascinating questions raised by this presentation.

And it works.  Thus when students were surveyed, pre-GVV 24% of them would do the unethical thing that was asked of them.  Post-GVV, only 7% would do that – very positive result.  This is reflected, too, in positive student comment on the heuristic.  Currently GVV is running with students’ real life examples (ie students bring their own examples from placements).  This encourages reflective practice.  It helps students to think how they can solve issues that are real to them; and above all it’s motivating for learning.

Great approach to ethical learning, and lots to think about in the context of SC use.

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