Learning, Design, and Creative Thinking

Last week I completed study for a degree of Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. I was fortunate to be a part of an excellent program that allowed me to study in Dublin, Ireland and Rouen, France over the course of the past two years. The program is full of wonderful instructors who are knowledgeable about all facets of education, pedagogy, technology and the future of learning in our increasingly connected world. The final portion of my study focused heavily on creativity in learning and design, and I must say I can already feel the affect on my design process.

Just the other day I was presented with a challenging problem in one of my instructional design projects. As I pondered possible solutions, I thought about the book we read “Sparks of Genius” and one of the its essential messages: problems have more than one solution and taking time to examine them from a number of different perspectives can lead to multiple solutions. From a pool of possible solutions a designer can test many and select the best one. I employed this style of thinking and lo and behold it worked great. My client was ecstatic with the alterations to the product I delivered.

Creative thinking and problem solving can be employed at all levels of the design process, but it must be cultivated and studied. Creativity is natural for some. But, there is no gene that some have and others don’t. Yes, some people are just wonderfully creative by default, but do not let this discourage you or lose faith in those around you. Some of the first steps to cultivating your own creativity and that of your colleagues is to encourage looking at problems, projects and tasks from many different perspectives and angles, intellectually and physically. Do not simply maintain the status quo because it is easy. Ask questions about the purpose and the goals of the work and what will ultimately be produced. Truly observe all areas of what you or your group are working on and you will discover new levels of quality. I have, and I look forward to growing my creative capabilities.

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