F. Galatsopoulou, C. Kenterelidou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GREECE)
This paper presents the methodology, design and development of an experiential university course for travel journalism and communication that fosters student’s creativity and collaboration.

The specific course approaches the scientific fields of Travel Journalism and Public Communication and explores ‘Travel’ as a constituent of the journalistic and communication process of public information, knowledge and engagement as well as a civic awareness and social development issue. It runs through a full academic semester (13 weeks) and combines lectures, indoor and outdoor experiential exercises, applied workshops, field visit experiences and project -based team work and tasks.

In this course participate students from the home university (Aristotle University) as well as students from European and International Exchange Programs that are studying in Thessaloniki for the respective semester.

The course’s teaching-learning scenario is proposed according to a study of students’ learning styles and a learning needs analysis. Their results together with the expected learning outcomes and the objectives of the course constitute the fundamental components of the methodology development process for this course.

The purpose of this paper is to present techniques that promote collaboration and foster creativity and to discuss the factors that influence student’s participation, motivation, and creativity as well as the effectiveness of the learning process for enhancing cooperative actions in a networked multicultural and multilingual educational environment.

In this direction, a qualitative analysis of data from in- and outclass video recordings, observation notes and interviews has been realized and its findings reveal that instructional strategies that involve experiential exercises and games offer a lot of benefits. They encourage students not only to play but actually engage in a game, to operate effectively in collaboration and to share knowledge either for problem-solving or for the completion of a task or a mission. Through such games, students can develop, apart from deeper learning, communication and social skills and prepare themselves for real life social and professional situations. Role games demand active participation and equal contribution. Students learn to respect and follow rules, trust each other, depend on each other and motivate the members of their team.

In addition to the experiential role games, collaborative digital storytelling tasks offer inspiration and foster student’s creativity. The implementation of social media and online platforms support and enhance the collaborative storytelling as well as the peer reviewing process.
The final group project for the course requires from students cooperation and collaboration in order to fulfil the assignment resulting to outstanding outcomes and offering diverse creative works.

The suggested teaching-learning scenario and the findings of the qualitative data analysis provide a base for future investigation and debate about the factors that influence students’ engagement, collaboration and creativity and about the instructor’s role in increasing student participation and motivation.