Creativity in Digital Education

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According to ISTE standard 4, students should use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. It requires students to be creative and innovative in problem solving. Creativity has always been a part of a successful classroom, and it has always been teachers’ goal to see their students become innovative. With technology, it increases the ability for students to use thousands of pictures, videos, and music to be creative in their projects, assignments, as well as group and individual tasks. However, I often wonder what it means to be creative and innovative? What are the skills we are expecting students to have when we try to promote creativity and innovation in learning? With the integration of technology in our learning today, how can technology expand creativity and encourage innovation in students?

Gomez (2007) in the article “What Do We Know About Creativity?” explored different definitions of creativity. “Creativity is viewed in different ways in different disciplines: in education it is called “innovation”; in business “entrepreneurship”; in mathematics it is sometimes equated with “problem-solving”, and in music it is “performance or composition”. A creative product in different domains is measured against the norms of that domain, its own rules, approaches and conceptions of creativity” (p. 31)

According to Gomez, creative students show certain characteristics that make them “stand out” from their peers, and these characteristics can be enhanced through computer technology and hypermedia, especially the ability to use graphics more than text to convey meaning and provide links (p36). Among these characteristics are:

  • Originality. This is the ability to produce unusual ideas, to solve problems in unusual ways, and to use things or situations in an unusual manner. 
  • Persistence. Creative students are usually persistent individuals who are willing, if necessary, to devote long hours to a given task and to work under adverse conditions.
  • Independence. Creative students are independent thinkers, who look for the unusual, the unexplored. 
  • Involvement and Detachment. Once a problem has been identified, creative students become immersed in it, first researching how others have tried to solve it, and becoming acquainted with its difficulties and complexities. 
  • Deferment and Immediacy. Creative students resist the tendency to judge too soon. 
  • Incubation. By putting the problem aside temporarily, creative students allow the unconscious mind to take over, make various associations and connections that the conscious mind is unable to do.
  • Verification. Although illumination provides the necessary impetus and direction for solving a problem, the solution must be verified through conventional objective procedures. 
  • Discovers problems. Until recently, most studies of creativity focused on the problem solving aspect of creative behavior. 
  • Generates alternatives. One of the basic characteristics of creative thinking is finding different ways of viewing problems. 
  • Challenges basic assumptions. In solving problems, one must begin with basic assumptions. These are any ideas, principle, or truth deemed self-evident. They provide the foundational structure for problem solving.
  • Minimizes labels or categories. By using labels, one risks misrepresenting information. It is convenient to function with relatively few categories, but this often results in polar thinking, one must be either right or wrong

With the better understanding toward the characteristics and skills of a creative and innovative student, what can technology do to enhance these characteristics and skills? Lewis(2005) in the article “Creativity—A Framework for the Design/Problem Solving Discourse in Technology Education” argued that technological design is a medium through which dimensions of children’s creative abilities can be stimulated and augmented. There is a need for design and problem solving in technology education to be framed not so much in terms of methodologies of engineers, but as opportunities for students to step outside of conventional reasoning processes imposed by the rest of the curriculum. 

Lewis(2005) argued “the problem for the field of technology education in the United States and elsewhere is that the overt description of the stages of the design process, observable when engineers do their work, has become the normative design pedagogy” (p. 44). Technology has a lot of potential to enhance students’ creativity if we recognize design as a creative rather than a rationalistic enterprise and educators must be more tolerant of failure. 

Saxena(2013) in the article of “How Can Technology Enhance Student Creativity?” shared that the following technological tools as creativity triggers that help students develop creative thinking and other essential skills. 

Blogs for creative thinking

-Cartoon and Comic Strip Tools

-Mind-Mapping and Brainstorming tools

-Infographics

-Video and Audio tools

-Digital storytelling tools

-Games

In conclusion, when technology keeps changing we can barely keep up with the pace to continue fostering creativity in students. Technology will not live up to its potential until we start to think of it less like televisions and more like paintbrushes. That is, we need to start seeing computer screens not simply as information machines, but also as a new medium for creative design and expression(Saxena, 2013). The more we learn about the ability of technology, the more we can utilized it to enhance our creativity.

References

Gomez, J. G. (2007). What Do We Know About Creativity? The Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2007 31-43 Retrieved from

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1055657.pdf

Lewis, T. (2005). Creativity—A Framework for the Design/Problem Solving Discourse in Technology Education. Journal of Technology Education Vol. 17 No. 1, Retrieved from 

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1064449.pdf

Saxena, S(2013). How Can Technology Enhance Student Creativity? Retrieved from

https://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/750-how-can-technology-enhance-student-creativity