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The Top 5 Reasons to Use Interactive Activities In & Out of the Classroom

By Danielle Provencher, Graphics and Web TFEE Student

It was nearing the end of a two-hour lecture. It was an engaging lecture on branding in the modern industry and how business’ have created innovative brands from a graphic design perspective. As interesting as it was, you could tell the class was ready for a break. Out of nowhere, however, my teacher pulled out a Jenga board game. You could immediately feel the attention change; there was a curious energy in the air and a spark of excitement (many of us are in our early-20’s however, there is never a lack of joy for board games in my program).

Chantal Abdel-Nour, our Advertising teacher in second year graphic design is a kind, intelligent and fun professor. However, she surprised us when she pulled out a board game as our experience graphic design has been fairly formal as our professors have typically strictly stuck to traditional on-screen lectures.

What was thought to be a traditional project turned into a very exciting project: we laughed and yelled in horror, delight and surprise as each of us took a turn pulling out a block, nearly tumbling the tower, to introduce the final major unit project. However, after one student misplaced the block and it tumbled over, we reluctantly sat back in our seats for Chantal to introduce the project.

Needless to say, even after a 2 ½ hour lecture we were full ears for what Chantal had to say: we’d be creating a mock-rebranding of a local gameboard café to hypothetically improve their door-front sales and general weekday traffic by changing their target market – playing the board game already initiated our perspective and train of thought around this as it gave us a sense into what the café’s atmosphere is like. Brilliant!

What could’ve been a traditional introduction to a project ended up turning into total spontaneous excitement for a new graphic design venture in our program. Not only were we excited to play the board game & begin the project, but we were looking forward to a Friday evening trip in the following weeks prior to the introduction to play board games, sip on lattes and get a feel for the atmosphere of the café to help us scope out how to fulfill our personal project’s goals & objectives.

Chantal’s way of thinking I have never seen in an adult-learning experience nor experienced personally, however, I truly believe this creative approach enriched my thought-process and learning overall. It’s true, because as William Pollard said, “without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” The switch-up of a learning experience: to nearly strip away the traditional idea of ‘learning’, and to go back to the basics of play ­– I truly believe that returned us to a refreshed, creative state that ultimately is vital to higher and more innovative productivity.

Read on below to gain insight into the other ways I believe that the students & myself personally gained from the experience:

  1. More motivation

As the game ramped up, I can’t lie: as I started to feel comfortable I noticed my competitiveness coming out. I would feel shocked, laugh a lot and even noticed myself yelling a couple of times as others were (all in great fun).

However, one thing was noticeable for sure: my focus didn’t waver. I was so intent on the next move, who was going to pick what strategy next (Would it be good? Would it fall over?) that I couldn’t keep my eyes away

2. It made me feel closer with my peers

I had health issues in the second year of graphic design so I fell behind for a couple of years, so naturally when I rejoined the program I was less close to the students around me.

I truly felt like I was not only learning about & having fun with my peers, I was also able connect with them in a stress-free atmosphere.

I also found that having our teacher plan a trip to a board game café in a learning approach truly boosted my levels of closeness with my peers.

This ultimately helped me to come back more motivated and focused the next class.

3. Reduce stress

I truly love my program: it’s cutting-edge, fun and challenging in a healthy way

However, by mid-February any student in this program feels the weight of many projects being completed and the build-up of late nights trying to complete assignments on-time.

I can honestly say that this created such a positive memory of a great learning experience: it altered my perception of what a typical post-secondary classroom is like. It is completely a new and flexible way to learn, and ultimately made me much more engaged in a positive way.

4. It’s fun!

It’s a proven fact that when endorphins are produced that stimulate the brain, it creates excitement and a happy atmosphere to develop a positive learning environment. Fun activities have many benefits such as improving memory, increasing peer cooperation and improving overall attention.

5. New way of thinking/knowledge

Not only was this activity simply a fun experience: it allowed me to make more mental connections. I was able to engage yet also intellectually observe the board game experience which I knew we’d be studying in depth later on for project purposes. It was a truly exciting and great time!

Sometimes when we let loose and have fun, engaging in play – we are breaking the mold in terms of ways we can think. I left the experience thinking more innovatively. As Susan L Taylor said, “stress and worry, they solve nothing. What they do is block creativity. You are not even able to think about the solutions. Every problem has a solution.”

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