Last semester, my JUS394 CyberPolitics class completed the semester with a class project — the Complaint Choir. They worked for two weeks; gathering complaints from public (online and offline) and turning them into lyrics as well as organizing everything (logistics, publication, etc) around the public performance. The choir itself, was not a choir. We rehearsed only once!
On May 1st, 2009, the class of JUS394 CyberPolitics did it. The students sung the complaint song of the year, at around 12:30pm at Student Service Lawn, with guitar and drum (thanks to Dr Mahootian!) accompaniment! We had a bunch of high schoolers joining the group and got some viewers too! Of course we didn’t forget to include a full crew of cameramen/women to cover the historical event.
We had a lot of fun in the process… and learned a lot too. Was it a successful project? It wasn’t a successful cyberactivism project nor a viral video project. But as a class and learning project, it was a huge success! Surely as a choir project, it was a total mess! A beautiful mess, though, haha.
On a serious note, I launched this class project not only for fun. First, I inserted lyrics-making and music-performing into our learning about online activism because I believe in creative learning. Second, I also believe in learning by doing. Through planning, producing, writing, and performing their very own Complaint Choir as the final class project, students got first-hand experiences in conducting cyberactivism—something they previously learned theoretically and empirically from the course readings—that includes mobilization and deliberation processes and transforming in into a public act in physical setting.
At the end of the class, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only students saw this project as being “exciting, interesting yet difficult and nerve-racking”, “the most interesting school project I have ever participated in”, “a unique experience”, “the most fun project I have had in a college level” or simply “awesome”, students also called it “a real lesson to learn the complex relationship between social media and politics”, “a true experience on how to deliberate with other individuals both within and outside of cyberspace”, “really gave a concrete feeling to the abstract concepts we discussed in class”, “a humbling experience that enables us to understand difficulties and barriers of doing online activism” and “a project that broke up the monotony sometimes associated with college education”.
In other word, if you can learn more by having fun, why not? Besides, it was so fun for the teacher too!!!