Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Artfully engaging with information in creative ecologies of learning #i3rgu

2nd day at the i3 #i3rgu conference in Aberdeen, Scotland. Theresa Dirndorfer Anderson (University of Technology Sydney) presented a paper by her and Mukti Bawa: Artfully engaging with information in creative ecologies of learning
This is work as part of a learning and teaching project in Australia, nurturing and sustaining creativity and innovation (a cross-disciplinary project). They are looking at ways to promote and sustain creativity in the (blended learning) classroom. This is a complex environment, and they were trying to stimulate agile and artful engagement with information to be able to be anticipatory and creative.
They identified three iterative stages of ethnographic action research
1) cross faculty investigation of metaprinciples for creativity and innovation
2) creative ecologies of learning
3) supporting diversity in group work
The students they were working with were pursuing degrees with a vocational focus, so part of the goal is to prepare students for workplace ecologies, to be artful and skillful. So, for example, they should be able to apply digital technologies to practice creatively and effectively in the workplace. A question is: what is the relationship between creative literacies and information literacies?
Theresa referenced Howkins' (2009) book, and his definition that "A creative ecology is a niche where diverse individuals express themselves in a systemic and adaptive way, using ideas to produce new ideas; and where others support this endeavour even if they don’t understand it". The nature of creativity will vary (e.g. something different for accountants than for artists) and similarly literacies will vary. For Theresa this also connected with Tuominen, Savolainen and Talja's (2005) perspective on information literacy.
The research that Theresa particulatly focused on four teachers and 15 students (from different disciplines), using interviews and fabulations: the latter means asking participants to suspend reality and rationality and imagine themselves in a possible future. The goal was to envision a classroom supporting creativity. It emerged that important indicators for the environment included resilience and responsiveness, adaption, diversity, learning, change and flexibility.
A way of using this is developing a framework of assessing a learning environment in relation to these indicators for supporting creativity. They have developed a peer assessment tool with ten indicators of a creative classroom and corresponding prompting questions, so that a teacher can work through this, reflecting on his/her own practice and evidence for that. So, for example, the questions on "learning" include whether the malleability of the subject objectives could respond to the interest of a given set of students. It was flagged up that a problem with this particular question could lie with fixed procedures in the university rather than the approach of the teacher, which required action further up the chain e.g. at the programme level.

An earlier relevant work is: Anderson, T.D. (2011). Beyond eureka moments: supporting the invisible work of creativity and innovation. Information Research, 16(1) paper 471.

- Howkins, J. (2009) The Creative Ecologies: Where Thinking is a Proper Job. Penguin.
- Tuominen, K., Savolainen, R. & Talja, S. (2005) Information Literacy as a Socio-Technical Practice. Library Quarterly, 75(3), 329-345.

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