5 technologies to promote creative learning

Teachers are constantly searching for new ways to promote good learning. If those ideas can also encourage creative thinking, they are even more welcome in the classroom. Technology can provide some of those creative solutions. Here are just five ideas for using technology to support learning, while promoting creative thinking, and I'm sure that with a little thought you will be able to adapt them to your own subject area.

1) Senses: In this picture the five traditional human senses are depicted. But there are actually more than five human senses, and teachers can challenge children to learn about some of the others (there are at least 10 more including proprioception - the kinaesthetic sense of where your body is in space, equilibrioception - the sense of balance and motion, nociception - or the experience of pain, thermoception - sensing heat, and so on). Ask your students to create icons or images representing these newly discovered senses. They could use cameras, graphics software, a combination of these, or some other tools to create and capture their illustrations. They could make their final presentation into a poster. [NB: This is useful in science, especially biology, but could be adapted for other subjects where there are lists or categories involved. To complete this task students must first understand and appreciate what the non-traditional senses are and how they are used, and then use their creativity to depict them accurately.]

2) Wiki'd Writing: Ask your students (in small groups or on their own) to either edit an existing Wikipedia page, or create a new one on a topic not yet covered. The latter option is more advanced and problematic, because many of the commonly known topics are already well covered on Wikipedia. Many Wikipedia pages appeal for additional content, verification or editing which could provide students with some clues as to how to proceed. [NB: This could be applied to just about any subject in the curriculum. To complete this task successfully, students will need some in depth knowledge of the topic they are covering - this will require considerable reading, research and investigation.]

3) Commons Touch: Ask students to submit two or three good quality images to Wikimedia Commons. Many people visit the site to find images of high quality that are copyright free. Students can also track how many times their images are used by other people over the course of an academic year. [NB: Again, this should be easily adaptable to any curriculum subject. Students will need to know how to compose and capture good images, and also will need to be aware of the gaps in the image repository on Wikimedia Commons. They will also need a fair appreciation of how Creative Commons licensing works.]

4) Making Twistory: Get students to follow, and interact with, historical figures on Twitter. What kind of questions should they ask? How might they get the historical figures to respond to the questions? There are many characters to choose from such as William Shakespeare, Florence NightingaleBenjamin Franklin or King Henry VIII. If you would like to have a go tweeting as a historical character yourself, here's a link showing you how to be a historical figure on Twitter. [NB: Great for the study of history, but could be adapted to English language and literature (authors), science or technology (scientists and inventors), geography (explorers), and foreign languages (tweets in those languages - see also Lingua Tweeta). Students will need to search for and verify celebrity or historical figure Twitter accounts, and then frame the questions they wish to ask them.]

5) Video Mashups: Ask students to find 3 unrelated YouTube videos. Using the built in YouTube Editor, ask them to select sections and mash them up, mixing elements to create a totally new message. How is the message different to those of the three component videos used? What does the message mean now, and how does the sequence of moving images and/or narrative support that message (form)? Who is the mash up video aimed at (audience and purpose)? [NB: Ideal for English Language or Media teaching, but could be adaptable to other subject areas. Your students will need to know about purpose, audience and form, will learn how to compare and contrast, and will also need to learn how to use the YouTube editing tools.]

I bet you can come up with some more!

Photo by Niki Dugan

Creative Commons License
5 technologies to promote creative learning by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Lloyd Dean said…
I really like the idea of contributing to a Wikipedia page. Alongside the benefits you have described, I feel the empowerment that would come with this could only foster further creativity.

One other method I use is theories expressed through plays. I had some students last year that demonstrated the sliding filament theory through Romeo and Juliet!
Steve Wheeler said…
Yes Lloyd, I think empowerment is another outcome of such an activity. I hear that several US professors are actually awarding their students course credits if they actively edit Wikipedia pages related to their subjects.

I like the idea of plays to represent scientific principles. Any analogy seems to work if applied appropriately. I have witnessed some of my students enacting pedagogical principles through blues singing, role play and cartooning.
Hana Tichá said…
I also like the idea of students contributing to Wikipedia. Every student is an expert in something; some students love history, others are interested in mathematics, so letting them choose the field of their interest gives them freedom and motivates them to show what they are good at. They can also choose the language (either native or foreign) they want to contribute in and thus practise it in a very natural way. This cross-curricular approach is what I find the most valuable.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Hana. I guess that's what appeals to me most about the best teaching ideas - most are transferrable across several (or all) other subject areas. Hopefully the ideas I have presented on this post are the same. Do let me know how well they work if you try any.
Anonymous said…
Steve! Thanks for sharing these ideas for creative learning tasks using technology. What I really like is that you describe a task as a template and invite the educator to design a creative and constructionist learning objective using it. Perfect! I also like that you are not proposing technology skills as the outcome; your focus is one the use of technological tools in the service of learning.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Jim. I try to practice being an open educator, and that I believe, extends beyond simply giving content away for free. For me, it also involves enabling others to think for themselves and construct what they want from basic materials and ideas. If it works for educators as well as it does for my own students, then I'm happy :)
KIA T said…
These are wonderful ideas excellent use of technology in the classroom. I love the interactive follow a historical figure on twitter
Steve Wheeler said…
Hope you try them out KIA - if you do, let us know how you got on!
Adrian Walter said…
I really enjoyed your ideas. Appealing to more then just a child five basic senses is a very interesting way to teach. This strategy really covers the whole child and gets them motivated about using technology. If they are anything like me, technology may not be their best friend, so the activities you have given would be a great way to get your students more involved with technology.
Anonymous said…
Two other ideas that I wanted to share-they are not mine but came from a professor of sustainable design programs-1) Upload a shareable PPT slide in a cloud and ask students to contribute on the fly; a specific instance where the professor used this was to define “sustainable design” in his 1st week of the course. He’d put up a couple of words that come to his mind when he thinks of sustainable design and then ask students to do likewise. At the end of the week, he’d have a slide full of words that students believe are synonymous with “sustainable design.” He’d then use this filled slide in his next live classroom session and help students make interpretations. 2) The same professor also often initiated a discussion in Voicethread and asked students to contribute to the discussion.

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