How To Teach Creativity in 2020: An English Teacher’s Journey
There are many misconceptions about creativity. There’s an assumption that people have, that creativity is a trait you possess. Either you’re a creative sort of person, or you’re not. If we think that we’re “just not a creative person”, it feels like there’s not much we can do – and we might not try at all. Our creative side remains buried, suppressed, and untouched.
Another common misconception is that creativity appears out of the blue, as if by magic. But creativity is a skill that we can all harness and develop. Furthermore, we can use technology as a tool to enhance creativity – our own and that of our students.
David Hoffman would know. Mr. 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 were forced to turn remote learning in light of the new pandemic, teachers and students alike struggled. Some teachers were pushed out of the field, as they didn’t have the training and skillset to keep up. Many teachers reported that they were working a lot more hours with the switch to online teaching. They were forced to fend for themselves, as they tried to master a new skill in a confusing new time.
Meanwhile, students had to deal with one Zoom lecture after another, staring at their screen for hours. They often were in an environment that wasn’t built for learning. It’s not to concentrate with younger siblings running around or loud construction projects going on next door – not to mention a pandemic going on. Missing one lecture meant missing essential information, and they couldn’t borrow notes from a friend to catch up.
When his school closed down it was obvious to Mr. Hoffman that it wouldn’t open back up again any time soon. So he dove in and looked for ways to do remote learning more effectively. He realized that the system is still using the same education models from 90 years ago. He came across studies that showed that American minority students score the same as white students when they’re homeschooled. Reading scores for homeschooled minority students is at the 87th percentile, the same as for homeschooled whites and 37 percentile points higher than the national average for all students. Similar effects were found for math scores. That only strengthened his belief in the power of technology in remote learning.
Mr. Hoffman started using Emaze and other technology to get his students engaged. He saw the potential of technology as a tool that students can use to take an active part in the learning process. It also offered an opportunity to focus on project-based learning. David found that Emaze offered advantages that other programs took too long to create. Emaze offered opportunities to listen to students, get feedback from them on what’s working, and to get them more involved in the learning process. Rather than just recording lessons or creating text-filled presentations, the ability to embed videos in Emaze presentations created asynchronous learning opportunities. Through the power of creativity, David was able to use Emaze as a tool to create formative activities. In turn, his own students’ creativity was unleashed.
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 themselves giving video journals. Those videos were then added to a gallery that was synced between Emaze and Google Sheets. The students could browse the gallery, view video after video, and comment anonymously. This got students more excited about sharing their stories. Students could then evaluate their fellow students’ work. And as previous research discovered – taking an active role in the evaluation process helped students better understand their own evaluations.
A further assignment to write a short story was also improved by Emaze. Students could use the tool to create beautiful and interactive stories in collaboration with each other.
Their work was then easily 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 in another creative alternative to regular essay writing.
Mr. Hoffman found that one of the most beneficial tools Emaze offered teachers is the ability to open several slides up for editing or collaboration by students while leaving other pages locked. In this way, teachers can offer students to share their feedback, without having to worry that their hard work would be at risk.
How Does Technology Help to Teach Creativity?
Mr. Hoffman isn’t alone. Many teachers had to take matters into their own hands and find tools to promote better remote learning and creativity.
This Forbes article listed several ways in which technology can increase creativity. One important way that technology helps creativity 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.
Mr. Hoffman, for example, discovered that through Emaze, he was able to create many different presentations in the time that would have taken him to create just one with other programs. 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, photo galleries, and blogs offered a similar advantage.
As technology develops, so does our ability to use it for creative problem-solving. The emergence of new tools offers endless opportunities. After all, there is no end to human imagination.
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