The Virtual Classroom: A (New) Creative Process

Devin Vandenberg ’23 shared her recent virtual learning experience using online platforms, such as the video game Minecraft, for her Stagecraft class. Scott Crandall first asked his students to pick a play that intrigues them. From there, students discussed the different elements of the play—lighting, objects, sounds, visuals, props, and more. After identifying those elements, they began building sets designs.

“The goal of this project is not for them to end up with a finished design, but rather to step through the creative process in a methodical way to aid them in their understanding of the multitude of pieces that go into designing a theatrical production,” Scott explained.

While working on the project, Devin said her favorite part was being able to build her own set based on her vision. “For example, I picked the play Deathtrap. This is a play that includes a lot of plot twists and is full of this non-suspenseful suspense that keeps you wondering what will happen next. I have really enjoyed reading and learning more about it and visualizing what I want the set to look like when I design it.”

Devin’s classmate Ryan Mitchell ’22 also shared what he’s enjoyed most about this project, stating, “My favorite part of this build was definitely seeing the finished product in Minecraft. I was worried that the end product wouldn’t mirror what I had in mind, but I think it turned out very well.” (See one of Ryan’s designs above.)

Scott believes that one of the most challenging part of this experience was finding a platform for students to express their two and three-dimensional ideas. “This class is about communication and collaboration and your ability to communicate your ideas to others in a way that they can understand. To that end, finding some virtual platform that the students can use to build their designs was the challenge I knew we would have from the start of the term.”

Some students are working with SketchUp, Scott’s initial suggestion for the builds. It is a free online platform that is relatively easy to use. Other students are using Minecraft, an idea proposed by a student in Scott’s class. Minecraft is an open-world video game that allows completely custom building and exploring.

George School teachers are working hard to make sure that students’ virtual classes are not only educational but engaging as well. Devin agrees Scott is doing just that. “Virtual learning this spring term has been, in a way, invigorating and has given me a fresh new perspective on class.”


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