I’m listening to the most recent toolbar episode with Judy Unrein, Brian Dusablon and their guest, Connie Malamed. They talk about a number of things, but there’s a lot of discussion of creativity – how to be creative, the importance of creativity for problem solving, and the unfortunate lack of creativity that can happen in learning design.
I think that there’s a weird attitude to creativity in our field – that it’s a nice-to-have (and just be clear — this isn’t something Judy, Brian and Connie said, but rather an attitude I’ve bumped into many times elsewhere). I think that there are a couple of reasons this isn’t true:
- We pay attention to things that are novel and unusual. We are constantly concerned with engaging our users. We know what whatever we build isn’t effective if users aren’t paying attention. In the same way that humor can improve learning and retention, unusual and novel stimuli break through our cognitive tendency to habituate to an unchanging stimulus (and yes – using big words to make your business case is a legitimate strategy).
- Well-designed experiences create positive affect in learners, which can improve learning and retention. The best resource on this is probably Don Norman’s Emotional Design, but his contention is that things that are well-designed do work better.
So, creativity is a legitimate design strategy – not something that is a pretty garnish on the plate.
Here are a few other interesting things on creativity:
- Connie’s great blog post on evidence-based practice for improving creativity: http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/improve-creativity/
- This fascinating video that suggests that creative problem solving isn’t just about stimulating creativity, but also about inhibiting our current set of rules for how things should work: through-the-wormhole-creativity-cap.html
- And because this post needs some creativity actually in it – here’s a Kickstarter Thank You note I just got from a former student (Taylor Baldry http://www.taylorbaldry.com) who did a project on helping people remember the genders of foreign language nouns by attaching little cartoon genitalia to pictures of the objects (and if that’s not creative, I don’t know what is):