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Aiding Creativity

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    My first thought is that technology can be used to support creativity in a wide variety of ways. In order to structure this discussion it will be helpful to start with a definition of creativity: “the ability to produce original and unusual ideas, or to make something new or imaginative”. I like this definition, as reminds me that creativity is based on the root word “create.” In order to create something new however, one does not need to develop an idea, a product, or an action in a vacuum. As humans rely heavily on social interactions, our ability to create is also highly dependent on inspiration that comes from others.

    In regard to academic subjects, technology can aid in creativity by providing data and information on which new ideas and methods of analysis can be based. Technology can also provide a wide range of tools for collaborating ideas to provide a diversity of modes and means for communication. Communication can be broken down further, into three distinct components: parallelism, anonymity, and group memory.

    Parallelism can be facilitated by allowing multiple people to collaborate on the same shared document, at the same time. I find this to work well in my classroom, as students show strong participation and enjoyment when they are asked to all contribute to the same shared Google document. This is amplified further when I project the document on the classroom white board and actively discuss the additions that each student makes. Anonymity is in many ways the opposite of parallelism: it is the concept that individuals who may be shy or afraid to let their creativity loose will be able to do so when afforded the anonymity that is made available by the internet. Finally, group memory refers to use of collaborative tools to help organize and guide a team’s collective decision making process. I also find this aspect to be useful as my team of special education teachers regularly uses Google Drive to share meeting notes along with a wide range of data, information and resources related to our subfield within our school.

    One potential barrier to creativity that comes as a byproduct of technology is the ability to access and rely on other sources of information instead of developing unique products and ideas. This can be seen in a range of behaviors ranging from deliberate plagiarism, to the tendency to fall back on “internet answers.” As a teacher, the best way to combat this tendency among students is to simply teach and model good habits. Also, technology can be used to battle the very issue that it creates in this instance, in the form of plagiarism checkers.

    For the arts, the limits of creativity are nearly endless when technology is applied. Personally, I have found technology to aid in my creativity in terms of graphic design as well as music composition. I always enjoyed visual art, but despite extensive practicing of my drawing technique, I found that I never had the knack for it that some of my friends did. However, when I started using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator I found myself to be quite proficient. As a junior in high school, I joined my school’s yearbook committee as a graphics editor and greatly enjoyed playing with the host of tools that Adobe offers. One of my favorite aspects of this was how easy it is to “undo” a mistake, or something I decided to change. The ability to easily change, modify, and undo nearly any aspect of a creative process allows the creator to move forward more freely, without fear or anxiety of making a mistake that may “ruin” the creation.

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