These are my notes from the breakout session, “Encouraging Creativity in Education through Community and Technology” at the 2012 State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City on November 13, 2012. Presenters are Ken Parker, Erik Guzik and Helen Soule. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Follow conference conversations today on Twitter with the hashtag #SoCF12.

First comments from Ken Parker

Ken Parker is CEO and Co-Founder of NextThought
– we started NextThought 18 months ago, but my entire career has focused on education and technology
– focused on leveraging the power and potential of community within education / school / learning

Over the past century, technology has not transformed educaiton
– this time is different, past promises not-withstanding
– here is why I think this time is different

Very different today and unique in human history: how connected we are
– BBC animation showing Internet penetration over the past 11 years
– ITU World Telecommunication: over 35% of the world today is online, that’s doubled in the past 5 years

Ubiquitous devices, mobile
– almost everyone in the developed countries has a smartphone in developed countries


Graph of iPod, iPhone and iPad growth
– now looking at 13 quarters after launch
– numbers of iOS products shipping juxtaposed with Android devices (dwarfing iOS now)

explosion of eReader shipments and tablets

Ken Parker at State of Creativity Forum

Mobile devices are become like electricity
– esp as prices continue to fall
– sub $100 tablets are in the mix

Digital natives
– you’ve grown up with this term
– expectations and familiarity is different when something is there when you were born

Alan Kay: “Technology is anything invented after you were born. Everything else is just stuff.”
– technology is different for the digital natives

The Financial Pressure of this time in history isn’t completely unique but it is significant
– school funding remains below 2008 levels in most states
– FY08 to FY12
– Oklahoma is at the bad end of the curve
– got even worse after stimulus funding drives up

Significant education technology
– edtech is a vast term for what it covers
I’ll address 4

1 Mobile devices
– integrates internet, intuitive interface, media, sensors, creative apps, mobility

Personal example, my father is in his mid 70s and until a few years ago had never touched a computer
– 2 years ago I gave him an iPad
– he become a Craig’s list fanatic, and now he flips tractors
– he uses his iPad 1 or 2 hours per night now, it’s a different device and interface

Mobile devices: how fast they can grow
– image of Jeff Bezos showing growth of eBooks: physical books sold, within 2 years of launch of Kindle they outsold physical books with eBooks
– their physical book business was not a flat growth line

Just saw article: “Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves
– how technology can bring learning to students without teachers or prior access

The world doesn’t have enough great teachers, unfortunately we have to look for these kind of second-rate choices

How many of you have heard of MOOCs?
Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig
– class offered by two Stanford Profs
– normally had about 200 students paying $50K per year tuition and fees
– last Feb they got the idea of sharing their course via Sal Khan at a TED conference
– worked to scale up their course
– 160,000 students enrolled, 23,000 completed the course
– students with 40 different primary languages, 190 countries, 248 obtained a perfect score (zero of those were Stanford on-campus students)
– the students themselves actually translated the course into 40 language (students did the work)

More interesting things behind the scenes
– they started in Feb, launched class in Sept
– they filmed the class in Thrun’s garage
– some of the students told the instructors they felt the video/online experience was more intimate than the lecture hall / face-to-face experience

Thrun resigned his tenured position at Stanford and started Udacity in January of 2012
– gave a profound answer: In one class I had a greater educational impact that I could have had in my entire educational career

Few MOOCs to pay attention to

Big money going into these experiments
– the cycle time is SO compressed for iteration and improvement
– get incremental, evolutionary and revolutionary change

Don’t measure against F2F, measure this against NOTHING because 99.9% of the world doesn’t have access to a Stanford or MIT level educaiton
– this levels the playing field of access

Tipping point: When universities start to give credit for these kinds of courses’
– Colorado State just said they’ll grant credit for Udacity courses
– partnered with Pearson testing for $80 tests for each course

3- Next watch “Blended Learning”
– use technology to maximize and personalize time and opportunity
– combined with in-person class
– having people lecture at you is not the most productive way to spend time
– interactive dialog is much more engaging and valuable

Different types of blended learning
– Khan Academy is a noted example

4- Watch Online Community
– comity enhances education and CREATIVITY
– with NextThought we are working at building a social community for learning
– why are cities hotbeds of creativity? Because of interactions, people bumping into each other

Reference to TED talk: Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex

Tecnhology enables peer-to-peer support


peer to peer support can lead to infinite scaling

Quick Video of our system working with instructor assessments and peer-answered questions

This time is different
– connected people
– ubiquitous hardware
– digital natives
– financial pressures

Watch these upcoming technologies….

Now hearing from Erik Guzik
– I am an economist, an educator, and very interested in creativity

Leveraging Education Technology to Cultivate Creativity
– there is something else different now, not just with technology
– also with creativity
– esp in education today
– the interest we have in education and creativity is NOT new
– we’ve seen this interest in introducing creativity into the classroom
– 1960s had programs like Future Problem Solvers, Odyssey of the Mind
– I was introduced to creative thinking via these programs in a Gifted/Talented program at my school
– they taught us a six step model for problem solving which led to an action plan
– we loved it because we as students could look at a problem area (we looked at prisons in space), read scenario, and came up with challenges we thought would come from that situation
– the program actually assesses your work and assigns credit based on the creativity, quality and innovative ideas generated during the process
– our challenge was creating more innovative ideas

Showing photo from Cisco advertisement
– kids in US classroom connect to classroom in China and they cheer about this
– what is happening in this classroom

Technology has great promise to lead to targeted instruction, individualized instruction, led by the students themselves
– enhanced framework for productive and collaborative thinking
– enriched, embedded assessment

Peril of Technology
– impact on traditional forms of community
– assessment within the massive virtual world of MOOCs
– impact on creativity and other higher order thinking skills is not clear

how do we begin to think about creativity in the world of MOOCs?

technology itself does not necessarily increase creativity
– Twitter is an example


The 3 essentials of education technology
– create
– collaborate
– cultivate

These are the three things technology should allow students and teachers to do


The technologies must allow students to produce: to create
– from consumer to to producer
– the producer of work
– students must be active participants within the larding process, becoming inquiry- and problem-based learners
– most students today are passive consumers within the classroom, we need to transform them into active producers

Some examples of universities we are working with around the world
Hewlett Packard catalyst grant initiative, “Measuring Learning”

North-West Univesity: Using Adaptive Machine Learning
– communities of South Africa
– conventional learning environments did not account for individual student strengths and weaknesses

Amrita University: Collaborative Platform for Practical Skills
– in rural India, many schools lack high quality resources for STEM learning, including laboratory equipment and teachers
– focusing on adaptive learning, via virtual experiments

Creativity depends on knowledge
– you have to have ideas you work into materials

2nd condition: Collaboration
– team-based learning
– I used collaborate instead of connect
– it’s not enough for students to connect in the classroom
– we need to provide a framework for students to engage in project development

Scofield Middle School (CT, USA) and Shadong Middle School (China)
– increase student engagement and interest in STEM education
– increased exposure to scientists and engineers has helped students make larger connections between the problems in their communities….

University of Science and Arts of Okahoma
– The Mindlink Project
– create a Creativity Management System (CMS)
– scenerio-based learning (multi-step projects)
– team-based, team-based, team-based
– arts, scientific method, and collaboration

RELATED VIDEO I FOUND: “Mindlink – USAO honored in the HP Catalyst Project Showcase

“Cinderella and the Scientific Method” was a project example
– share 7 expectations about Cinderella
– what would you expect to find
– students brainstormed these and filled out a grid
– teacher now challenged them to find these in 7 different versions of Cinderella, from 40 different examples collected from around the world
– the ‘glass slipper’ wasn’t present in all of those stories
– this integrated analytic thinking

Another project: Students decided to focus on invention projects
– student who was thinking in a problem-solving manner about creating a double ice cream scooper

Problem solving model applied to Hamlet and research

We are providing a Basecamp-type experience for students for problem-based learning


Our environment (CMS) allows for different kinds of data collection and analysis of the ways students interact

We have begun to use this technology with The Pop-Up Classroom
– examples at Amrita Science Fair, Afghanistan, Collaborative Community Problem Solving, and cSchool
– pop-up classroom is very collaborative

3rd element: Cultivate
– how are those tools being used for enhanced assessment
– formative, summative, and embedded
– allow us to cultivate 21st century skills

HP Measuring Learning Consortium
– viewing student work in real-time
– students have tablets and can we view their work as it’s being designed in their groups, at their classroom tables
– automated assessment
– formative and summative assessment
– computers are very good at identifying variation and differences: including creativity

Example of C-School collected work

We have an instructor now working on ‘guided re-discovery’
– can watch students as they develop solutions in realtime

Now hearing from Helen Soule, is going to speak briefly about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills
– Interim Exec Director / Director of State Partnerships for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills
– I was a K-12 teacher, not ‘a gifted teacher’ but a “teacher of gifted children”
– was a district tech coordinator, got the job when my superintendent got some new computers and asked me to figure out what we should do with them in school

Partnership for 21st Century Skills
– leading national advocate for 21st century readiness
– 10 year history bringing together education, business and policymaking community
– thought leader on 21st century skills, defined framework for 21st century learning
– provides numerous resources for supporting 21st century college, career and citizenship

Our mission is to serve as a catalyst for 21st century education, we partner with multiple organizations and leader
– we are a member-supported organization

Current state partners: 18
– have just Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois in the midwest

Global Innovation Economy
– economy-wide measures of routine vs. non-routine task input
– work is different today
– Levy and Murnane 2002 research

I live in Alabama but work virtually, a lot in Washington DC but around the country
– I need electricity, smartphone and a laptop: then I’m in the office
– I have a blue chair in my home and tell my grandchildren “when I’m in that chair, I’m in my office”

2006 report “Are They Really Ready to Work?” (PDF)
– what skills will be important in the future: Critical thinking, IT, health and wellness, collaboration, creativity and innovation, personal financial responsibility

April 2010 Critical Skills Survey: 4 C’s – critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration

Several core themes that should run through core curriculum
– global awareness
– financial, economic, business and entrepreneurship literacy
– civic literacy
– health literacy

Information, media and technology skills
– information literacy
– media literacy
– ICT literacy

Life and Career Skills (used to call these ‘soft skills’)
– flexibility and adaptability
– initiative and self-direction
– social and cross-cultural skills
– productivity and accountability
– leadership and responsibility

Quotation from an Apple HR person:
“If a potential employee has to be managed, we don’t want them” (they want employees who can manage themselves)

A good education must include the 3R’s and 4C’s
– embedding the 3R’s and 4C’s makes teaching nd learning more relevant, engaging and rigorous
– in the past we had a philosophy that ‘only the gifted’ needed those skills
– now we say EVERY student needs these skills

Experiences build the 3C’s
– building critical thinking and creativity
– stretching what students know and applying it to something else
– making complex choices and solving problems in innovative ways
– building a culture of creativity
– ‘connecting the dots’

We want to really work on situations where schools buy new interactive whiteboards for classrooms, but teachers just persist in lecturing with the new tools

Working with a school in Iowa which has adopted competency-based curriculum

We partner with states to create “Core Subject Maps” with arts community, social studies, geography, science, others
– critical thinking and problem solving

Check out Crayola Creativity Modules and Activities
– they are really great, all free

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