Creativity and Technology

By Ulysses, Alice, and Charissa

What We Explored

Our group took the topic of creativity, and researched how it applied to successful learning and development of thinking skills through technology. We have included links articles that demonstrate the use of technological creativity in education as well as writing our own personal experiences.

As creativity often means, there is a mishmash of ideas, fun, and rearranging. We hope that through this collection of stories, experiences, and videos, you will be inspired to use creativity to be inspired and to inspire.

“Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.”— James Ogilvy

(from Fields)

Teaching technology and thinking skills through creative applications - Charissa

I taught many people how to use their Apple computers. Many had never used a computer before, and were terrified about using a foreign machine. Concepts such as hard drives and RAM were very difficult to example to a learner who was uncomfortable enough without hearing jargon.

Some of the best ways that these learners cleared the hurdle of first-use in technology as well as developed a good concept of how to start thinking about their computers was through creative applications. Creating a folder...hard. Creating a photo album...hard, but maybe kind of fun.

The key to helping someone explore their new computer always seemed to start with asking what they might like to do for fun. Even the least artistic of people enjoy getting to see family photos or change their desktop picture.

Once a student talked a little about what they enjoyed doing, it was time for them to actually do that. As they were guided in learning about photos, they were learning more about their new technology. For example, when a student wanted to delete a picture, they were learning about the difference between deleting an item and emptying trash (a very important basic computer skill). Many skills that initially seemed intimidating took on an element of fun as we created albums, added sound effects to videos, or oohed and ahhhed at a finished product.

What these learners were guided to do was not just get an answer. I wanted them to learn by doing. If they asked "How do I get rid of a photo?", I would encourage them "Look around the screen to see what might give you a clue." They would find the trash can icon on their own...reinforcing the skills of deduction and recall (from past lessons). Every time the students repeated these actions, the more natural it became for them to remember basic photo skills.

The skills these students learned while playing with photos then would translate into basic computer skills. They had learned to look for a trash can in the photo program, so when the time came to delete a document file, they could reason what to look for on the computer screen.

What my team and I often saw was a progression not only in someone's movie-making skills, but in the way they thought about thinking! We would see a student often pause to recall information they had learned earlier, and then apply those thinking processes to a new problem (beautiful use of Bloom's, in my opinion).

My favorite part of teaching these students, who were often adults, was the joy they expressed when they realized they "got" the technology. Starting with creative applications eased them into familiarity, and before long, they walked into training sessions with excitement brimming over about their newfound knowledge and skills...and ready to take on the next challenge.

Report on "Creativity in schools" - Ulysses

This article states that:

1) Film-making, story-telling and animation are three areas schools can use more to create an interactive curriculum

Also that: narrow academic targets and tightly drawn lesson plans has driven the creativity and spontaneity out of education, which squanders children’s education

Additionally they stated that: modern information and technology opens up a new world of creativity in education for students, such as interactive lessons and assignments

Moreover: technology is changing how subjects are being taught. Instead of simply writing essays or blogs, students can make short films about class room assignments or films that highlight social issues that are important to them. These types of films create a world of on-line discussion that falls under the curriculum umbrellas of English, social studies and health. One such site is Truetube.

Another example of such a program is CTVC, which is associated with Kidbrooke School, in Greenwich, Sout-east London. Here, a van takes students around to make films and use computers to create and post class assignments. Videos are made through story telling using speech bubbles or story boards.

Finally, a group called Tag Learning will unveil a program called Anithings, an animation program that allows 4 to 11 year-olds enhance their writing by using their own characters.

In all they believed that “creativity emerges as we think around the edges of our practice and figure out how to use tools and media to express our imagination and capabilities.”

Read the full article below.

Key points from "How computers can help in class" - Ulysses

Here are some of the highlights:

• Computers can be used for e-learning, which connects students to an abundance of on-line resources, more than traditional learning

• Computers help students work at their own pace at school, and even at home

• Computers can be used to “personalize” education and create curriculum designed specifically for certain student. For example in our school we use “Alpha Plus” a state program that monitors and assesses each individual students programs, using on-line software. Just Google “Alpha Plus”

• Computers can also help teachers, by helping them give one-on-one time with students, helping and assisting them with the on-line course work that’s tailored to meet each students specifics needs, as well state standards

• Computers help create a more broad and balanced curriculum, by offering more flexibility to mixed-ability classes, and allowing children to progress at their own pace and educational abilities

• Computers cross language barriers and include dictionaries for students who may not speak fluent English.

• Computers are more visual and interactive that the traditional blackboard lessons, and help students get more comprehension out of lessons.

Read the full article below

Websites and Apps - Alice

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

Kid Blog

Kidblog was built for teachers. It was designed for K-12 teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs and user accounts. Kidblog can be used to create classroom discussions, practice writing skills, reflect on learning, create e-portfolios, and formatively assess writing.


Glogster debuted in 2007 as a unique social network based on the creation and sharing of Glogs - interactive posters loaded with text, graphics, music, videos, and more. Glogster’s goal was to provide an outlet for unlimited creative expression online. It didn’t take long for users to get hooked! In 2009 Glogster launched Glogster EDU, a secure learning platform for teachers and students. Today, Glogster empowers millions of people all over the world with a space to express their emotions, ideas, and knowledge online. Glogster is Yours!


Storybirds are short, art inspired stories you make, share, read, and print. Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like e-cards. They’re curiously fun. They make stories social, fun, and easy.


It is magazines, websites, and books written by teens since 1989. It has samples of a large variety of differentiated assignments for teens including the integration of technology.

Art Thread

The ArtThread Foundation makes art and creative expression more available to those impacted by illness, physical limitations, or social consequence. The Foundation works to build a global art-based community by making it possible for people to share and communicate via art. In this way the Foundation uses art as an agent of community change by sharing our technology assets with other non-profit organizations whose mission is to support arts in healthcare, child advocacy, and community-building -- any program that serves people in crisis or those with special needs. From cancer survivors, to persons with disabilities, or children at risk, ArtThread provides a healthy way for these everyday people to connect, foster creativity, and thrive in their daily life. People feeling better and coming together through the power of creative expression: this is the work of the ArtThread Foundation.

Working in Creativity: Articles and Resources of Interest

Ken Robinson - TED Talks

Sir Ken Robinson is a an expert on creativity in education. He has given several TED talks on the topic of education, and the importance of ensuring that creativity is not separate from learning.

Here is his first TED talk, given in 2006.

Here is his 2010 follow-up TED talk.

Works Consulted

Fields, Jonathan (2010). 55 Quotes to inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action. Retrieved from:

Lightfoot, Liz. (2012). Creativity in schools: ‘Schools have the technology but lack the will to use it. The Guardian UK. Retrieved from:

Parkinson, Justin (2004). How computers can help in class. The Guardian UK. Retrieved from: