Creativity and education


A regular criticism leveled at education is the function (and sometimes the lack of) creativity in motivating and inspiring learning.  Creativity these days is seen as something ‘special’ and worth capturing.

However, when it comes to creativity in education, there are many aspects to consider. Every student is creative in some way, and the job of educators is to release and support that creative talent in an appropriate manner. Of course, not every student is a  musical Mozart or a scientific Stephen Hawkings. That is not the point for educators. The point is capturing creativity to empower knowledge transactions and in so doing also help prepare students for the digitally diverse and changing nature of our society.

A working definition of creativity is offered by Faultley & Savage (2010, p.6), which does capture nicely the transactions taking place in a learning environment such as a classroom.

Creativity involves mental processes;  can involve action; is within a domain; is purposeful; and is novel (to the individual – ‘everyday’ creativity)

Teaching creatively and for creativity entails taking students on a creative journey where their responses are not predetermined. Teaching for creativity means that students will be producing ideas that may well involve novelty and possibly, experimentation. Teachers and students involved in teaching for creativity will be engaged with processes and although products may well be important it is in the process of creation where the true focus lies.

Craft (2005, p 42) identifies that teaching for creativity involves:

  • the passing of control to the learner and the encouraging of innovative contributions;
  • teachers placing a value on learners’ ownership and control, when innovation often follows;
  • encouraging students to pose questions, identify problems and issues;
  • offering students the opportunity to debate and discuss their thinking;
  • encouraging children to be co-participant in learning, resulting in further control for learners over appropriate strategies for their learning;
  • being at the least considerate and ideally ‘learner inclusive’, thus prioritising learner ‘agency’;
  • encouraging ‘creative learning’, the construction of ‘creative learners’ and ultimately the ‘creative individual’.

So then what is meant by creative and critical thinking in education contexts?

Langer (2012 p. 67) proposes two major purposes that help shape our expectations, both of which result in “mind in action”, meaning-making moves with distinct functionality and motivation.

  1. to gain information and build concepts. (motivated primarily by an information-getting, retrieval, connecting and/or applying purpose)
  2. to engage in a more fluid and open-ended experience where we are not sure to where it might lead. (motivated primarily by a search to see purpose)

Together they contribute to intellect, and it is their joint availability that permits us to engage in the kinds of flexible cognitive interplay that supports intellectual functioning and intellectual growth.

Exploring horizons of possibilities, in a creative experience, we are guided by the open-ended search for ideas. To do this we not only call on what we can imagine,  but also what we cannot yet imagine, in response to ideas or stimuli that we meet along the way of our search.

I can imagine that all these aspects of creativity have a good chance of being unleashed at the Pegasus Bay School.  They want to broaden their horizons!

References

Craft, A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British journal of educational studies, 51(2), 113-127.

Fautley, M., & Savage, J. (2010). Creativity In Secondary Education. Learning Matters Limited.

Langer, J. (2012). The interplay of creative and critical thinking in instruction. In Dai, D. Y. (Ed.). (2012). Design research on learning and thinking in educational settings: Enhancing intellectual growth and functioning. Routledge.

Image: GoogleTV by lynetter

Stayin’ Alive – learning as the future

You have to love this old tune from the Bee Gees! Tight pants aside, the lyrics and pace of Stayin’ Alive hits the mark for the first subject kicking off in the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation)!

It’s “O” week, and I have a new band of troopers who are aiming to stay alive while giving  learning in new channels and new scholarly approaches a go with me. Wherever we work in the education sector the challenges are there – time to level up!

Areas to explore:

  • The information revolution, global connectedness and trends in technology
  • New modes and methods for information organisation and knowledge creation
  • Principles of connected learning, open access and open communities
  • The digital divide and globalization of lifelong and lifewide learning
  • Creative cultures including gaming and maker-spaces
  • Education informatics
  • Re-imagining the experience of education in a digital age.

Yeah, we’re stuck in CMS land – but not completely.  We have our backchannel in Twitter (of course), and we have our own degree portal as a launchpad for digital connections across platforms, devices, and scholarly digital direction. Please note the word ‘scholarly’. We are not about devices. We are about adding depth and scholarly rigour to the push into spreadable media, networked culture and postmillenial pop.

Yes, our students will have to know how to cite Twitter in an academic paper, alongside traditional citation practices.

Professors may scoff at the idea, but students are increasingly citing tweets in academic papers. Although they don’t exactly count as peer-reviewed, tweets do provide interesting insight into pop culture, breaking news and a number of social issues. After all, the Library of Congress is indexing tweets for historical reference.

They need to know about Open Access and full research re-use rights and predatory publishers.

mobilehubThey will make use of a host of tools from CSU Mobile Hub and dig deep in developing their professional reflexive and reflective position on what they are learning by keeping a digital record at CSU Thinkspace. Naturally a bunch of Bibliography and Citation tools will also kick into action.

Blending imaginative learning with real-word development needs can be extremely challenging and extreme FUN. Take our first assignment (yeah, we still have to have them)  – the scholarly book review.  Seems easy? huh?  Until you realise that there is an extensive list of books to choose from – see my Amazon list collection.

Write a scholarly book review, which presents a critique of the work in the context of current and emerging trends in information and knowledge environments created by the social and technological changes of the digital age, and in relation to learning and teaching.

Identify questions or issues that are important and which have implications for current practice and/or for your professional goals.

Many critically acclaimed books are published that address topics related to digital information environments and knowledge networks; creative cultures and use of technology; and futurist perspectives on learning in a digital world. However, regardless of popularity or publicity, educators need to be able to evaluate these publications from a scholarly point of view.

A scholarly book review is a critical assessment of a book. It can take a substantial amount of time for critical scholarship to emerge about a book. Likewise, as scholars read and digest the content of a publication, divergent views can emerge, and research can be questioned, or new areas of investigation can appear. Therefore the knowledge and skills underpinning a scholarly book review are more important than ever in the dynamic information environments of today.

This is no tripadvisor review.. it’s one that requires students to challenge their thinking, dig into the research, and in particular identify the value versus hyperbole so often present in many of these kinds of publications. This critique is a critical review, and as Steve Wheeler explains,  it requires a student to “look both ways” : 

  • Provide a balanced and objective argument; don’t indiscriminately pepper their assignments with direct quotations from the literature;
  • judge the worth of any theory or idea they include in their work; and
  • demonstrate to the reader (and marker!) that they not only found the idea and can understand it, but that they can also contextualise it.

Warning, warning.  Don’t keep quoting statements that have no foundation in emergent theory and research. Just because a self-appointed media ‘guru’ says it’s so, doesn’t make it so!

Students, it’s time to fine you niche in the digital noise.  We’ll be stayin’ alive together if you connect, communicate and collaborate.  Otherwise……get back into the desert of the analogue world.

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother,
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’,
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Daniela Hartmann

Google image search

Soon our Australian school students will be back in school, and being asked by teachers to ‘research’, write projects, make presentations. So they’ll be jumping onto Google images, a favorite haunt, unless you have taken the time to integrate quality search techniques into the learning approaches.

So here is a handy improvement to Google image search, that makes it easier to encourage appropriate use . In amongst the image search tools, Google has just added a search by ‘usage rights’ field.

So the next time your students are looking for the ‘right’ picture, or merely in need a bit of generic clip-art to illustrate a point, make sure that when they search  Google images that they  then click on ‘Search tools’.

This will bring down another sub-menu students you can filter their search for Usage Rights.

The default is ‘not filtered by licence’ as per usual, but this handy feature allows for ‘labelled for reuse’ filtering as well as various ‘commercial reuse’ options.

This filtering has actually been available for a few years, but it was buried deep within the advanced settings. Now that it’s so easy to find, make sure students know where to find it.

I should also point out that there are plenty of other useful resources out there for copyright free images.

You’ll find more about this at Find Free Images Online http://judyoconnell.com/find-free-images-online/.

Enjoy!

Via: Images make life easy for publishers

Knowledge in the digital age


The future of learning is such a BIG topic that’s central to our work in higher education and K-12 education. The type of future thinking we need to engage in is NOT the hyperbole around  the demise  of the industrial age (it never was the right way to frame future planning!) but rather a deep analysis of who we are, what we want, and how we can best achieve knowledge developments as a result of engagement with ideas, actions and content.

Now I know that statement sounds prosaic in itself – but stay  with me a moment longer.  January 3 sees me well and truly launched into work preparing for a 2014 year of deep diving into ideas with students, colleagues and friends alike.Yes, back at work!

In a sense the deep dive began with a hilarious afternoon/evening watching University Challenge on the big screen internet enabled TV with my family. We got quite attached to some of the competition teams, and completely fell head-over-heals for the Corpus Christi Colleage Oxford team.

What struck us was the range of knowledge that these young competitors exhibited (we scored very poorly as we kept our own record).  As author Anthony Beevor, presenting the trophy to the winners of the 2011 challenge,  stated that if we believe that there has been a dumbing down of education in the last number of decades, listening to these students deal  promptly with the diverse quiz questions certainly proves the opposite.

The fact that knowledge is relevant and central to the ongoing advancement of the human endeavour is not in question in the digital age – but rather how information is utilised to grow knowledge is. What is happening in social media, popular culture, online, in your connected spaces?  As my colleague Tara Brabazon outlines in Time for Timbits: Fast Food, Slow Food, Class and Culinary Communication:

The internet … entered popular culture and became a powerful channel of ideas – rather than the hobby of a few – as the bandwidth increased, enabling a much more rapid movement of increasingly larger files. Therefore, the speed between diverse sites increased the range and the adaptability of media. Speed transforms minor media into popular culture. Speed is therefore a characteristic of modernity.

Knowing how to ‘think’ and ‘work’ in a digital age is more than just dealing with the information flow and ‘drinking from the firehose’ of global information. Speed is central to a new method of productivity, only when it is utilised in a manner to continue deep thinking and knowledge creation. I’m not a digital immigrant any more than my 16-year-old-niece is a digital native.  I’m a product of the education and professional opportunities that the social and cultural environments of my life allowed.

Knowing about technology does not make you knowledgeable – but knowing how to maximize working with information in and for knowledge development may help to make you more knowledgeable.

According to the recent MacArthur Foundation Report “The Future of the Curriculum: School Knowledge in the Digital Age” new learning in a digital age encompasses a move away from seeing curriculum as a core canon or central body of content to seeing curriculum as hyperlinked with networked digital media, popular cultures, and everyday interactions. The questions, then, are what knowledge is to be included in the curriculum of the future, what are its origins in the past and the cultural legacies it represents, what future does it envision, and what authorizes its inclusion?

The report clearly explains how the knowledge economy has become the dominant political style of thought in education reform worldwide. For my money, the extent we subscribe to the newest wave of reform (forget the hackneyed references to factory schooling) is not so much the issue. Rather it’s about recognising the influences and potential at play in changing the ways we can engage in the knowledge construction processes with our students.  Mind you, the MacArthur Report is a bit prone to hyperbole too:

we are witnessing the rise of a flat learning system as the science of learning and building brain-power is applied right across the full range of formal and informal situated contexts, both in the real and virtual worlds.

Having said that, 2014 and change are synonymous – but probably no less than they were in a 100 years ago in 1914 – it’s just that we are living an exciting transition and perhaps overly excited by it.

Like everyone I very much enjoyed reading my favourite SciFi Isaac Asimov’s predictions of what the world will look like in 2014 from way back in 1964. Try this for an example:

Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica.

I was pleased to catch up with the The Downes Prize for 2013. Of course, Stephen Downes choice is insightful, as is his ongoing scanning of the horizon for the shifts and sometimes seismic changes in how we manage education and knowledge outputs. Check out his OLDaily E-Learning News, Opinion, Technology commentary.

I’m excited by the many challenges (and a few too many hurdles) that 2014 will offer me.  I hope for a good year, a productive year, and an opportunity to learn more interesting things with you.

Welcome to 2014 my friend.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Trey Ratcliff

March madness and April foolishness

My professional life is indeed about March madness and April foolishness. It’s that time of the university cycle – Courses Review and future Course planning!  Not an annual process, but something that has to take place every few years. Me? I’ve been in the ‘job’ of Course Directors for 8 months for one bit of it (teacher librarianship) , and 2 months for the rest of it (Bachelor and Master degrees in Information Science).  Hence my head is buried in paperwork, planning, re-organization ……. and DREAMING.  Oh how I wish creativity, innovation, and change was not so complex.

So, I have very little time to write in this blog until some time in May. Fact!

My time for reflection is limited to ‘saving’ good reads and important information for later examination or immediate action (but not blogging). For that I always use, EvernotePocket, Diigo, or Zotero for resources I will need to reference at a later point.  I am thoroughly pleased with the updates made to Feedly (thanks Google for finally killing of Google Reader!) and I am enjoying Prismatic on my iPhone as an alternative way to crowd-source newsfeeds (I’m well over Zite, Flipboard and the like).

So April foolishness is what I’m now headed into!  April Fool’s day has set me off to a good start. Thanks to Tech Crunch for an awesome April Fool’s day list and for Google’s contributions.

My absolute favourite was Google Maps treasure mode.

Archeological analysis has confirmed that our Google Maps Street View team has indeed found one of history’s long lost relics: a treasure map belonging to the infamous pirate, William “Captain” Kidd.

The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean, as part of a deep-water dive to expand our underwater Street View collection. Captain Kidd was rumored to have buried his treasure around the world, and tales of a long-lost treasure map have lingered for generations.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Stéfan

Remix culture as a creative and professional habit

Yesterday the Charles Sturt University ICT Community of Practice had one of it’s regular afternoon forums, campus-wide, in meeting spaces, and via online conferencing. It’s a great way to bring people together from various faculties and disciplines. The focus in on sharing – not quite a PechaKucha, but close to it with just 10 minutes to share a few nuggets of gold!

As one of the invited presenters, my focus was on creativity and the use of images. This is based on the fact that I want teachers to understand remix culture (when it comes to images); use of creative commons and various sources of free images; image attribution; and visual presentation for blogging and creating presentations. With the 10-minute presentation I also included one of the regular updates that I provided my teacher/students in the Digital Citizenship in Schools subject to help springboard ideas.

The trick of course is to engage teachers from all ends of the spectrum of ICT prowess. So for the newbies, an introduction to flickr and other CC image sources is a must. For the geeks an introduction to tools like Alan Levines wonderful FlickrCC Image Attribution Helper is a must!

A lovely lecturer in Veterinary Science contacted me later to let me know she was excited by the ideas and would be weaving what she has leaned into her work. How cool is that? To be able to share across disciplines in this way is future learning methinks!

Understanding remix culture as a creative and professional habit IS  about understanding creativity and copyright!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by A. Diez Herrero

Leading the Learning Revolution

Last Friday I ventured down south to Melbourne to join a vibrant and amazing conference on Global e-Literacy: Learning the Re-invention of Learning put on by SLAV – The School Library Association of Victoria.

Great venue, great people, great program! These great Victorian innovators gave me a wonderful welcome, and allowed me the honour of kickstarting the day with a presentation on Leading the Learning Revolution.

The MCG Members Dining Room was a great place for a smaller sized group of a 100-200. No footballers or cricket players, but the size of the venue, and reminder of the many victories and losses at that ground was just the right kind of razzle for discussing the conference topic of Global e-literacy: leading the reinvention of learning.

The day included  my globe-trotting friend Jenny Luca discussing multimodal literacies, and drawing on her vast experience of working with students and leading a school in integration of technologies. The round-table workshops were a fantastic idea – moving from one curation tool to another. I had great fun showcasing Diigo with my cheeky friend and podcast hero Tony Richards from the EdTech Crew.

Short sharp presentations on LibGuides (Di Ruffles, Melbourne High School). Apps Swap Meet (John Pearce), Curation Tools (Cameron Hocking) and Library Design (David Feighan) topped off the day. We had a wrap from Cecilie Murray, who kept us on our toes with challenges to take away for tomorrow and the future.

Fab day!  Loved catching up with old friends, and making a few new ones.