Recreate group dynamics at distance

  • Introduction : context of crisis & overall question

Since the beginning of the health crisis last March, the conditions of teleworking are frequently questioned, However, it seems that the impact of social distancing measures on learning is struggling to be questioned. Through various interviews with young artists and designers currently still in school, we were interested in the impact of this crisis and its successive lockdowns on the way students in art and design schools works

  • Investigations and interviews : what we were looking for & what we found

Our discussions focused on the experience of the first lockdown in March 2020. We were attentive to the material and spatial constraints induced by the closing of the educational sites, to the difficulties of organizing the work and the collective exchanges, as well as to the pedagogical and institutional rigidities plausibly encountered by the students. We sought to identify whether they had developed practical tips, methodological adaptations and critical distance in their work.

In addition to the emotional dimension because personal of these interviews, and their testimonial value because of their novelty, these exchanges brought to light the recurrence of a deficit. The experience of this confinement seems to have been accompanied by a loss of the feeling of belonging to a collective body: the distance work methods have damaged the notion of group, the class spirit, isolating the students from each other and reducing the usual exchanges and relationships. How then, in a period that tends to privilege these distance learning modalities, how can group dynamics be recreated?

  • Project : research and experimentations : class dynamics & research protocol

A class is a particular social structure because imposed. The relations that are woven are sometimes friendly, sometimes conflictual… but rarely indifferent. We thus took advantage of a collective time of restitution in distanciation to propose to a group class a research protocol aiming at recreating the usual dynamics by proposing to them possibilities of interactions and simple exchanges. By sharing a google-draw link representing the space of a class, and by indicating the ways in which the students could behave (position themselves where they wanted and communicate in writing), we were attentive to the uses provoked and the proposed interpretations.

It is interesting to observe how the students appropriated the different rules indicated: some changing the size of their text according to the meaning of their message, others moving their avatars in space, others still, wishing to address a particular person, identifying them in their messages? From an overall perspective, it seems that this protocol allowed students to share a common class experience at a distance, providing a space for jokes, remarks, support and fellowship.

  • Brou-haha project :

Brou-haha (Hubbub) is an interface that recreates classroom dynamics and accompanies class times led at distance. By allowing students to exchange in an informal and direct way, it recreates the feeling of being part of a group, and makes the presence of fellow students tangible.