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Posts Tagged ‘creativity

Recently I tweeted this blog post from George Couros.

Couros outlined three misconceptions about innovation in education. Briefly the misconceptions he mentioned are:

  1. Innovation is about how you use technology.
  2. Innovation is reserved for the few.
  3. Innovation is solely a “product”.

There are even more misconceptions. I suggest that people make at least three more mistakes about innovation in education.

Innovation — and its precursor, creativity — can somehow be taught or transmitted. It must be modelled and caught.

Creativity cannot be taught as a skill, but it can be killed -- Yong Zhao.

Innovation is not about having plenty of resources. You need to be at your most creative (thought) and innovative (action) when times are bad and resources are thin.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then creativity is the father.

Innovation is not doing the same things differently. If the same things are being done, how exactly is that being innovative?

Doing things differently does not always mean doing things better. But doing things better always means doing things differently. -- Hank McKinnell (Former CEO of Pfizer)

Just one of CNET’s eleven reasons why Apple and Adobe should fear Microsoft caught me eye. It was Microsoft Story Remix (MSR).


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The video above outlines what MSR might do.

I was not impressed with the bling factors like the fire football and exploding goal. I was taken more by the seamless combining of videos shot by different people.

The seamless stitching is an example of using technology productively and meaningfully. The software does the heavy lifting of collating videos and presenting preliminary cuts and sequences. The human can decide to make tweaks like rearranging sequences and providing one or more foci. The software and humanware each do what they do best.

Is creativity threatened by technology now? Only if we let it do all the doing and thinking.

The technologies we invent are our tools and instruments. We need to acknowledge that we shape our tools and instruments, and in doing so, they influence our expectations and behaviours.

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. -- Marshall McLuhan.

With something like MSR, there is no need to hoard and rely on individually shot videos. Instead, there is incentive to share and truly collaborate. Contributors simply need to upload to a shared space.

Once the videos are there, each contributor can make their own video or they can rely on one person to do this. In either case, MSR take the tedium out of the task.

Anything that promotes meaningful and helpful collaboration is good in my book. MSR is a great example of how to design for it.

Disclosure: This reflection was not prompted by or paid for by Microsoft. It is also not a product endorsement. My focus is about powerful and meaningful integration of technology for education. My goal is not to make rich corporations richer. It is to enrich the thinking of educators.

This TechCrunch article declares that creativity is overrated, particularly in the corporate workplace. I am not about to go as far, but I will point out something else about creativity.

We appreciate successful and popular creative efforts. But do we also see the other side of creativity? The side that looks and sounds like this?


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The odd pieces are creative in their own way. We need these effects, perhaps thousand or even millions of them, to be base from which more successful or popular ones emerge.

How tolerant are we of such “creative” endeavours?

Thanks to YouTube’s algorithms, I discovered a talented musician named Andrew Huang.

This is the original 24K Magic music video by Bruno Mars.


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This is Andrew Huang’s take on the same song with carrots as instruments.


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His creativity stemmed from a challenge to recreate the song about 24 carats with 24 carrots.

There is much more of Huang’s work. The videos below are Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd and Huang’s version using instruments at his dentist’s office.


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This creative expression could have been a combination of making the ordinary less so and learning from a painful experience. You might not feel your face after receiving numbing agents from a dentist.

Huang is undoubtedly talented and we might pick up lessons on creativity. Creativity often:

  • originates from a challenge.
  • emerges from the mundane.
  • is a different way of looking at the same problem.

Creativity might also include being able to see useful links between different domains, e.g., entertainment and education, or personal and professional. 

What would prompt Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, to weigh in on Pepsi? It was an advertisement so ill-conceived and reviled that the company had to withdraw it [NYT] [Wired].

Stephen Colbert gave this withering but humorous critique of the ad (click here for the segment).
 

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It would be easy to accuse Colbert of being mean because he was making fun of the company in the name of entertainment. However, such critiques are deeper and more important than we might think.
 

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Vox unpacked what Colbert and others do: They inform in an easy to digest manner and they leverage on not being neutral.

While proper news channels might try to report just the black or white facts, we recognise today that most issues are subjective and nuanced greys.

Satirists use fun and laughter, and in doing so, disarm their audiences and combine emotion with logic. They inform and educate in ways that not many teachers have been taught or believe in.

They embrace subjectivity and make a stand. They combine creativity with critical thought. They call bullshit when they see it.

The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something. -- Jon Stewart.

I have caught up with my backlog of image quotes. This is the last one I prepared way in advance.
 

I started with Haiku Deck and moved to Google Slides as the latter afforded more precise text placements.

My Google Slide-based quotes are in this online album. The ones in Haiku Deck are here.

I have shared the image quotes under CC license because the images were originally under a CC license.
 

I am not sure if I will make more even though I still have a collection of unused quotes.

I am not sure if I can stop myself either.

Poll ten people on what “innovation” means and you will likely get ten different answers. You might also see some patterns emerge.

Here are two common responses to what innovation is: 1) doing things differently, and 2) doing the same things differently.

I agree with the first notion, but I think that the second is flawed. If you are doing the same things, how can you call it different?

In a few seminars, I have showcased examples of how people have used the show-and-tell method over time: Cavemen drawing on cave walls, lecturers on blackboards, instructors with overhead projectors, teachers with PowerPoint and “interactive” white boards.

Is doing the same thing differently all that innovative? How can it be when the medium has changed and the method has not?
 

 
Consider another example.

My son’s school has a “no homework on Mondays” policy. There are caveats in this practice, but I shall not waste words on them.

By force of habit, I asked my son on a Monday if he had homework. Before I could take my question back, my son replied that he had. A teacher gave the class homework on Monday and told students that it was due on Wednesday.

Technically a child could wait till Tuesday to do the homework. But even a child knows that Tuesday will bring even more homework that they will have to add to an already full plate.

Doing the same thing (dishing out homework) differently (giving it a different due date) is not innovative. It is a creative response to staying ahead in the curricular race, but it is a selfish one. It does not benefit the child, it does not change practice, and it works against the movement to try something new.

Part of the Twitterverse seems to have fallen in love with the fixed vs growth mindset debate. @gcouros suggests we adopt an innovator’s mindset. I agree. But only if innovation is about doing things differently, not doing the same things differently.


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