Creative learning through technology

First published on November 2011.

For the past few years, I’ve argued that, unless we’re prepared to become significantly more creative and imaginative in the way in which educate young people, the likelihood of them grasping the opportunity to fulfil their potential can only be enormously diminished.

I’ve tried to promote the concept of innovation in ways that ensure that our education systems, at every level, remain relevant to the collective needs of a society that is in itself changing in ways that, at times, I find quite bewildering!

It is, of course, digital technology that’s the driving force behind much, or even most of this change.

Surely, if we want to win back the trust of young people, we need to engage far more effectively with their world – learn to view technology, and the way in which they relate to it – through their eyes.

To see it as they do – as creative and transformative – not simply as some kind of useful ‘add-on’ but as something that changes the very nature of the way in which all of us teach and learn; and indeed, the way we respond to learning.

The events of August 2011 should have made it clear that the task of winning back the trust and respect of an entire generation is a desperately urgent one, because, without it, the chances of our being able to help them develop the wisdom, the patience and the courage to deal with the world we’ve bequeathed to them moves from being difficult – to well nigh impossible! But it would be naive to think that the impact of technology is restricted simply to those being taught.

Affordable and powerful platforms and technologies have now become embedded in the everyday lives of a whole new generation of teachers; and that’s important, because, in essence, the problems surrounding the adoption of advanced technologies as part and parcel of day-to-day teaching practice stem from two very different approaches to technology.

The first seems designed to support and reinforce existing – or, in many cases, outdated – practices, some of which haven’t materially changed for almost 100 years!

It’s somewhat the equivalent of putting the man with the red flag back in front of each automobile and simply encouraging him to jog a little more quickly. In truth, merely ‘digitising’ old practices means simply seeking to get the same or similar results – but that bit faster.

If all you do with technology is use it to support existing methodologies and practice, then why, and on what possible basis, would you expect new or significantly better results?

I’ve long been suggesting to anyone who’ll listen that those who wish to drive educational improvement would do well to consider what a major, positive ‘disruption’ in learning and teaching might look like; that’s to say, what advances could a bold and enlightened ‘digital pedagogy’ achieve, as opposed to simply settling for a ‘digitised curriculum’?

For, in every respect, these are two very different things.

Our task is to harness every opportunity we can find for delivering creative learning through technology; to address those many longer-term challenges we as a global and digital society now face, whilst offering all our young people a decent chance to lead happy, fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Creative Commons LicenceCreativity Money Love: Learning for the 21st Century by Creative & Cultural Skills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Illustrations by Paul Davis -