AoP Tech News April 2018

Tech News, Support, and Information for AoP Educators!

Creativity - Discovering Solutions to Tomorrow’s Problems Today

by Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach PreK-12


This month we will be exploring the final pillar of Doug Belshaw’s Digital Literacies - Creativity. As mentioned last month, the Creative pillar blends with several of the previous pillars. That blending of all eight pillars is what makes the Digital Literacies applicable for a diverse range of communities and digital tools. If you would like to review some of the earlier articles, you can find them in our digital archive.


Too often, we assume that for something to be new it must also be original. A sample of a song can be copied, it can then be remixed and built upon, eventually yielding a completely new song. That song is new, but not original. The ability to build on top of existing digital structures was the focus of the Constructive pillar in January. Just like a lesson plan can be downloaded off the internet, and then customized to fit the needs of a teacher’s individual class. What the Creativity pillar really means is that something new has been created, because there has been a new value added to the original piece. When emphasizing the Creative pillar look for that increased or new value. When using the SAMR model to design your lessons, the transformation section, the Modification and Redefinition stages is where we see this new value added. “The Creative element of digital literacies is about doing new things in new ways that somehow add value”(Belshaw 53). Just thinking about how technology has impacted not only what we teach, but HOW we teach we can truly see the Creative pillar at work. With free resources like those from the Khan Academy, Read Write Think and The National Archives, combined with the amazing free formative assessment tools such as Kahoot!, Quizizz and Formative the value created by these new digital tools is unbelievable!


At no point during these articles have I provided a definition for digital literacy. One of the major reasons why I have not chosen to identify a definition, is due to one of the other trends through all of these definitions - change. When we discussed the Communicative and the Culture pillars, we identified that different digital tools have different languages, behaviors and expectations. When we looked at the Civic and the Critical pillars we identified many different communities, each having unique digital literacy needs. Throughout the entire series I have discussed numerous sites, apps and included the occasional YouTube video. Across all of these examples and these eight pillars, different situations have been addressed in each case. Each community group may requires it’s own definition of what digital literacy means. “People over specify an answer to a question that differs massively according to the context. . . Such definitions should be emergent from the particular context in which you find yourself. The essential elements allow you to co-construct your own definition” (Belshaw 58). What digital literacy means in one context, or one situation, or to one group may be different in each case. The needs of one community suchs as students, or a school may be different from those of another. If you rank the pillars by order of importance, and your students do the same, arguably there will be two different rankings. Neither ranking is incorrect. The main reason a definition for digital literacy has not been provided, is because you are a stakeholder in that creation process. It is up to each education community to think, debate and decide what effective digital literacy looks like in their environment. This brings us to the final challenge:


Challenge: Reflect on all eight pillars. Identify what each one means to you. Rank them by importance. Think about what these elements mean for you and for your students. What aspects of Digital Literacy are most important for you and for your students? Take these eight pillars and remix them!

AoP Tech Team

Bill Brannick, Director of Technology

Alissa DeVito, Associate Director of Educational Technology

Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach

Annabel Dotzman, Technology Integration Coach