Yuki Wada, an AIU graduate student, participated in the 5th X Design Forum "Playful and Open: Design for Learning" held at Chiba Institute of Technology, Tsudanuma Campus. She made a panel presentation on the importance of designing learning evironments based on her experience as one of the first tutors of AIU's Nihongo House.
At the 5th X Design Forum "Playful and Open: Design for Learning" I made a presentation about the Nihongo House, one of the Themed Houses of AIU. The title of the presentation was "Changing a closed lounge room into open and playful learning place: Are students naturally shy or does the environment cause communication problems?" I talked about how important it is to create a comprehensive learning environment while utilizing resources such as shared lounge, diversity, and the theme of Japanese language. There is also the importance of "staging" a situation where students become willing to plan by themselves and actively participate in events. As examples, I introduced some unique meeting facilitation methods and a series of bonding events called "Ore-no series (or literally "My" series)."
Design of open and playful learning: Starting with "thinking and using diversity as a resource"
Nihongo House as a place where people of different nationalities, languages, and cultures gather, is unexpectedly filled with fun learning besides just Japanese language. However, on the other hand, diversity being perceived as a complication is also a reality. For example, at Nihongo House, where there is a mix between beginner and advanced Japanese learners, it is very difficult to decide which language to use for regular meetings. Of course, as time passes and through trial and error, it could become possible to hone a common communicate strategy, but that does not mean every student has room to put all of their effort into solving every problem. Most residents also have classes and club activities to tackle with outside of the Nihongo House. Eventually, when the semester-long study abroad period ends, people go back to their own countries. For people on short-stays in Nihongo House, how can we create an environment that naturally acknowledges diversity not as something troublesome but as a resource, and allow them to successfully communicate with each other in Japanese? Also, how can we create a positive learning environment not by only letting a certain person show his leadership, but by letting every student take initiative? Through observations of residents’ behavior and meetings with them, one of the ideas we created was the bonding event called "ore-no series" ("ore-no" means "my"), where every week a different member would plan an event based on their specialty or favorite thing.
Realizations from "Ore-no" series:
- Ore-no curry
- Ore-no Taiwanese noodle （×Ore-tachi no Chinese）
- Ore-no movie
- Ore-tachi no takoyaki
- Ore-no French
- Ore-tachi no American breakfast
- Ore-no Kaiserschmarrn
- Ore-no Korean food
- Ore-no instant ramen
Why Diversity is Good Because of differences such as nationality, language, culture, and religion, utilizing everyone’s strengths offers new value to the community. Everyone is a Leader it is not just about joining events like what visitors do in Disneyland visiting attractions, but people are in control and get to make their own plans to create a memorable experience as cast members. Planning and Participation became Easier If responsibility for tasks is split between many people, it decreases individual burden, making people more willing to perform the tasks.
It is much simpler to plan regular small events and participate in them compared to larger events.
Speaking Japanese It does not pull away from Nihongo House’s theme of Japanese language, but in addition it utilize current resources to have comprehensive learning design, allowing for students to use Japanese more often anyway.
For Sustainable “ore-no series”From August this year, we will continue "Ore-no series" with new residents and a tutor. Every time it happens there will be problems that arise, but they will not be handled like whack-a-mole individually, only to have new problems appear. Instead, every problem will be handled at once through building an empathetic relationship between tutor and students, while allowing each student can have a stage where they can realize their independent style of learning.