Boosting Creativity through Technology

Boosting Creativity through Technology
Posted on 10/29/2015

By Tamara Mills, Coordinator of Instruction for Health, Physical Education,and the Fine Arts, as well as the 2007 Worcester County Teacher of the Year

Parents in today’s society have certainly become familiar with the terms, “21st Century Learning” and “College and Career Ready”.  These terms involve teaching children how to utilize and apply technology, prepare for highly technical careers and apply their knowledge in ways to solve real-world problems.  These terms also require that we teach children how to be creative.  

The current workforce is looking for candidates who create new technologies, new designs and are innovative.  Teaching creativity, however, can be a tricky thing.    How do you teach a child to think “outside the box”?  How do we foster in children the ability to develop creative solutions to today’s challenging problems?

Some ways that all teachers foster creativity is through activities such as assumption-based reasoning.  This involves helping children to create hypothetical situations and then solving the problems that arise within that situation.  Another way is through concept mapping.  Concept mapping involves generating and communicating ideas and designs using a complex structure.  This activity requires that children think creatively to resolve issues and assess solutions to problems. 

The fine arts inherently teach children to be creative.  However, it is important for all teachers, including arts teachers, to continue fostering the curiosities of our children to help them develop and maintain creative thinking.

Specifically, Fine Arts teachers utilize components of the Creative Process (i.e. inspiration, preparation, exploration, incubation, connection, creation, and evaluation) to reinforce creative thinking.  They also utilize teaching methods such as Harvard Project Zero’s Artist Habits of Mind.  The Habits of Mind include strategies that help students to engage in creation and expression, development of a craft, observation, reflection and understanding connections.

The true test of creativity is when a child can use knowledge and synthesize it across multiple domains.  Consider the artist Leonardo Da Vinci, commonly referred to as a “Renaissance Man”, because of his proficiency in multiple areas. He could use what he learned from art and math and apply it to science to create innovations which moved society forward. 

To move our school system forward, Worcester County Public Schools is currently immersed in a digital conversion.  As we increase the technology that is available to all students and staff, arts teachers must ask, “Can the integration of technology into fine arts also help to develop creative thinking? Or does it hinder creativity?”  When utilized and modeled properly by the instructor, technology can transform the human experience and foster creativity in a way that requires children to utilize creative thought processes. 

Some ways that teachers can benefit from the efficiency of technology, and not allow it to hinder students’ creativity is to discourage the use of clip art and built-in graphics.  This requires students to use design tools, drawings and compositions which come from their imagination.  Teachers can help students become familiar with programs and software that requires original raw materials.  These programs require students to upload their own photos and videos for the end result. Teachers must expose themselves and students to multiple devices over time, and keep in mind that some devices are better suited for certain tasks.  For example, desktops and laptops are great for word processing assignments, while iPads work better for creating video, photo and audio projects. Finally, teachers must continue to incorporate the creative thinking strategies into their assessments.  If we let students know that original, creative results are what is assessed and valued, we promote this type of thinking in the classroom.

Technology, used in combination with good teaching strategies and practices, will certainly help to make our children more creative and move our children forward, preparing them to become citizens of the future.

To learn more about creativity in the arts and across content areas, please contact me (410) 632-5031.