Today was interesting! I met two year 11 Chemistry classes and spent a little time opening up the options of choosing a Web 2.0 tool to produce part of their assessment task. These students have by and large been operating in a Web 1.0 world for school learning – but of course are operating in a Web 2.0 world of social networking with the usual MySpace, Facebook or Bebo.
The challenge for them was to think about creativity and the learning process, and if they dared, to step out of their usual comfort zone and into Web 2.0.
Why did we want to do this? Well the issue is this – that critical thinking skills cannot be learned in the abstract. They always pertain to concrete knowledge of subject matter. But by the same token, absorbing and ‘learning’ some concrete subject knowledge does not necessarily lead to critical thinking or creativity. Learning is a delicate pattern of interconnections!
If you sit boys in rows, if you always ask them to write an essay, produce a poster, deliver a talk, or make a powerpoint then without a doubt the capacity for independent learning or flexible collaborative learning that is deeply reflective just ‘ain’t gonna happen’ easily.
It’s true – we threw these boys in the deep end with a big challenge. Sorry boys!
…….. and I watched some of them run right back to safe shores, others forgot how to paddle or swim and splashed and floundered around (hiding their confusion behind boyish bravado), and others got right in and swam to the new shore across the bay. A few quiet ones spent a lot of time exploring the tools, checking the parameters and began to talk about the nature of learning this way.
We’ll be happy if we see a few wikis, maybe a blog or two, or maybe even a voicethread. This was just an experiment. No student will be advantaged or disadvantaged for either choosing or not choosing a Web 2.0 option. All we hoped for was that for some boys – the naturally curious and creative ones – the opportunity to use a Web 2.0 tool just might make the learning experience fundamentally creative, collaborative, and fun!
I’ve added a new TAB to the blog for the students called Student Tools – Let them fly!
So back to the beginning of the lesson.
What DOES this video prompt YOU to think about creativity and learning?
After all, an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. Have we nullified the capacity of our students to be creative in the very ordinary yet essential daily processes of learning? That’s the message the video gives to me :-)