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2009 – The year of Creativity and Innovation

December 17th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

The European Association of Education of Adults has recently released in their website that 2009 is going to be the European Year of Creativity and Innovation.
Well, that is about time Creativity and Innovation came hand in hnad with education, and also that it gained the recognition it deserves as part of one’s learning process and life long development. In my mind, attached to it is spontaneity, a wider diversity of contextual opportunities to learn and practice, hence, more value put on informal and reality learning approaches; learning spaces turned into environments where people really feel at ease to communicate and share… feel they belong to (all agents included), more choice and personalization, that is, voices emerging…
The hint is that ICT will have a decisive role in this approach, and that the learning activity becomes more connected and with a wider networked audience. 🙂
Now the questions are: how will participatory media finally be embedded (and not forced) as a fundamental part of institutions’ strategies and approaches towards teaching, learning, and research? How will creativity be regarded, supported and enhanced in formal settings? How will innovation happen … This really takes a lot of thinking, and a lot of courage too to take this forward.

This morning I was also reading the IPTS policy brief on ICT for Learning, Innovation and Creativity (2008), and their observations are not really surprising, but compared with what the Lisbon Strategy initially set forward, it’s almost shocking.
Ala-Mutka, Punie and Redecker (2008), point out that despite the fact of ICT have been increasingly taken up in educational settings in the last decade, it still hasn’t had the ‘transformative impact’ on teaching and learning inside the institutions. Nevertheless, it is progressively gaining more importance outside. The report also says that ‘while many education institutions all over Europe are currently experimenting with diverse digital tools, the approaches developed are not always creative or innovative’.
Who hasn’t come across cases like this? How many ICT projects are nothing but the replication of what has been done in face to face scenarios? What’s the added value in this? So why using technology, going through the hassle of learning new things if we just aim at replicating what we already do well? Technology is only useful when there is true added value to it. For that to happen new learning situations need to be created, the institutions (and all its agents – students, lecturers, tutors, researchers, librarians, etc) need to make the connection with the virtual world real. This takes an open and social approach in which participatory media can help tremendously not as a solution per se, but rather as a means to an end … as a platform for meaningful communication and development of learning networks and communal engagement.

As part of their recommendations, set of suggestions at different levels have been enunciated. In terms of pedagogical innovation, experimentation is encouraged – let people try, they say!!!! Only if we do it, will we know if it works. We ought to be a bit more daring in education – it kind of goes well together with the real life we are preparing our students for! Networking and exchange of good practices amongst educators seems to be a must. Thus teacher training and support are crucial.
As far as innovative organizations go, open and network institutions comes at the top of the recommendations in this category, alongside with the development and support of a favourable culture for ICT innovation and learning and the building of a strong vision of ICT and innovation for lifelong learning in Europe.
Finally, some ideas on how to support and take advantage of the technological innovation. That calls for Co-development of tools for learning and teaching – working closely with the users does seems a great idea. Research on how ICT impacts on learning is also seen as essential. To it, I can add another thought: research on practice, and how it drives change, creativity and innovation seems to be also as important.

If Educational institutions all around Europe are going to allow this to happen, that remains to be seem. But I certainly would like to see this as first item on every School’s/ university’s New Year’s resolution list…or is that asking too much?

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One Response to “2009 – The year of Creativity and Innovation”

  1. Cristina, It’s wonderful to learn your views. I like your idea on Research on how ICT impacts on learning. May be that’s the direction one should take, not only to be researched in one country, but on a global basis, if possible. A cross-sectional research conducted on network and institutional level will provide deeper insights into how learning could be enriched through the use of ICT. I reckon a network approach may be a better alternative to dig deep into this area, as it requires collaboration amongst networks and institutions. What do you think?
    I have responded to some of the “future of higher education” in my post, consolidating some others’ views on issues and solutions.
    Many thanks for your great insights.
    John Mak
    Happy New Year.

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