Mscapes (mobile games, stories and tours triggered by your location) are great ways to develop Dorothy Heathcote’s ‘Drama in role; and ‘Mantle of the Expert’ techniques.
She taught me that you could teach many areas of the curriculum through drama – history, science, maths, geography. It is in many ways the antithesis of early online teaching methods with its fragmented bits of factual knowledge and its need to focus on the easily measurable. But role playing games have always had a touch of her wisdom in them, whether I’m beating up an enemy in GTA or remembering I have to play with the kids in Sims, I am choosing to step into the shoes of another character, to inhabit their world and to make the kinds of decisions they would make given the amount of available evidence. She was very keen on ‘available evidence’ as a way of focussing and then developing holistic learning. I think she would have liked the new moves to create Mscapes, where your mobile phone or other handheld device can feed timely information to you as you move through a physical landscape either within a school’s boundaries or on the site of a great historical or geographical event. Based on this incoming information and the developing scenario you can make choices about how to act or you can take that exciting step into interaction with another character in role, committing yourself to go with your instincts until the next piece of information arises, and learning something about why decisions might get made. Two of the finalists in the BTween Exploding Narrative competition show this possibility.
Both The Detective and Night Bridge demonstrate how drama in role could be developed using handhelds.