How To Teach Creativity in 2020: An English Teacher’s Journey
There are many misconceptions about creativity. For example that it’s a trait you possess, you’re either creative, or you’re not. And if you’re not, there’s not much you can do to change that – so why bother? This leaves your creative side buried, suppressed, and untouched.
Another common misconception is that creativity appears like magic, rather than as a skill that can be developed. Technology is one tool that helps develop creativity – our own and that of others, particularly students.
David Hoffman would know. Hoffman, who currently teaches English and Creative Writing in VA, has a long-time passion for creativity. With a Master’s degree in Creative Studies, he uses his skills to equip students with new tools to navigate the world. In December 2019, he launched Raising Innovation to promote creative problem-solving training. Then, COVID-19 hit.
Technology As a Tool For Teaching Creativity
As schools turned remote, teachers and students alike struggled. Some teachers were pushed out of the field, as they lacked the training and skillset to keep up. Others reported that they were working more hours with the switch to online teaching, as the lines between work and personal time blurred. Teachers were left to fend for themselves, trying to master new teaching methods, in a confusing new time.
Meanwhile, students had to deal with one video lecture after another. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end. Forced to learn in environments not built for learning. Where suddenly missing one lecture meant missing vital information. With no classmates to borrow notes from, it became impossible to catch-up.
When his own school closed down it was obvious to Hoffman that it wouldn’t open again any time soon. So he started to look for more effective ways to teach remotely. Through his research, he came across promising studies that showed the benefits of homeschooling. These findings strengthened his belief in the capabilities of remote learning.
Hoffman started using emaze, amongst other tools, to engage his students. He saw technology as a tool students could use to take an active part in their learning. With emaze Hoffman found advantages that other platforms didn’t offer.
Emaze offered students the ability to give feedback on what was working, what was not, and what would get them more involved in the learning process. Rather than just recording lessons or creating text-filled presentations, the ability to embed videos in slides created asynchronous learning opportunities. Through the power of creativity, Hoffman was able to use emaze as a tool to create formative activities. And unleash his students’ own creativity.
One such example was during an English class module on Frankenstein. Instead of writing essay after essay, the class used technology to mix things up. Students recorded video journals, which were then added to a gallery synced between emaze and Google Sheets.
The students could browse the gallery, view the videos, and comment anonymously. Students could evaluate their fellow students’ work, and as research shows – taking an active role in the evaluation process helps students better understand their own work.
Another assignment, to write a short story, was also improved by emaze. Students created beautiful and interactive stories in collaboration with each other. And turned a one-dimensional report into something a lot more interesting and stimulating.
Their work was then linked and shared from a bigger blog or website. The “create your own website” feature offered an easy way to learn media literacy and soft skills. Students were also able to use the template like a chat room to discuss ideas and visions.
Hoffman found that one of the most beneficial tools emaze offered teachers is the ability to open several slides, for editing or collaboration by students, while leaving other slides locked. This allowed students to share feedback and leave notes without changing the presentations.
How Does Technology Help Teach Creativity?
Hoffman isn’t alone. Many teachers took matters into their own hands to find tools to promote better remote learning and maintain creativity through the use of technology.
Forbes listed several ways in which technology can increase creativity. One way is by reducing barriers through automation. This means, that by automating redundant, low-skill, repetitive tasks, the brain has more time and energy to focus on creative tasks.
Hoffman, for example, discovered that through emaze, he was able to create multiple presentations in the time it would have taken him to create one using other platforms. This gave him more time to think about how to step out of the box with his teaching methods and offer a fresh perspective. The automation of building websites, quizzes, photo galleries, and blogs offered a similar advantage.
As technology develops, so does our ability to use it for creative problem-solving. And the emergence of new tools offers endless opportunities. After all, there is no end to human imagination, shouldn’t our tools match?
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