Creativity: How can play encourage this?

Comment by SIMON DAVENPORT, LEGO® Education

Creativity has long been thought of as a trait which some individuals ‘naturally’ have. However, creativity is a skill, a talent that can be nurtured and developed, not just a special gift for a select few. With the vast technological and social changes that are happening today, creativity is once again cited as a crucial skill for the future, yet our current curriculum does not reflect this. It has been seemingly disappearing from education. Well-known education specialist, Sir Ken Robinson states that “both creativity and critical thinking have been flagged as essential skills, yet many still view them as separate forces such as oil and water”. This may be due to our tendency to view creativity as an unstructured trait, with occasional spontaneous results such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook idea, whereas critical thinking leads itself to more of a linear progression. Yet it could be argued that creativity is in fact a process rather than an inherent ability, albeit one that also requires thought and experience to truly reap the benefits. So, if creativity is a talent which can developed, this should be encouraged in preschool, so that young children are prepared for a future in which it seems logical to expect creative ideas to drive our development.

It isn’t just about the world of work that lies beyond the classroom though. Creativity is essential in children’s early cognitive development and, when combined with their curiosity about the world around them it can fuel their learning. Giving children the tools to make successful discoveries but also allowing them the freedom to explore means that they will often connect the dots themselves, and understand more through practical experimentation. Learning skills at their own pace helps to develop their confidence, and when you combine this with learning through play, you can start to see the impact that supporting creativity can have.

There are many opportunities for teachers to support creative play in the classroom, and many resources and group activities to help. Roleplay, and play in general, are important in aiding a child’s social and emotional development, as it allows them to experiment with different roles and situations that they may encounter in their lives. However, research also suggests that when children play, other behaviours are demonstrated, including problem-solving, a much-desired skill in later education and beyond. Establishing a scenario through which pupils have to enact certain roles to find a solution will help to develop their logical understanding, while also considering their own creative ideas. This individual expression is what becomes the innovation of the future – there can be 100 answers to a single problem, and your pupils may find 100 more! When it comes to nurturing creativity in early education, play is essential, as it promotes the use of imagination as well as problem- solving through experimentation and critical thinking as children move through school and beyond. As a society, we should be preparing our children for the future by engendering essential skills at the right time in their lives. Helping to drive creativity and fuel imaginations at an early age is crucial but we do not want a hothouse education that ultimately does a disservice to children. This is where playful activities this can only be a positive; learning through enjoyment. Who doesn’t want that?


Video collaboration will take education to the next level

Comment by TIM STONE, VP Marketing EMEA at Polycom

The education industry requires constant revision to ensure it accurately reflects the latest trends and needs. However, according to our global survey, ‘Education in 2025’, 45% of respondents felt that educators are not maximising the potential of technology to support meaningful learning in the classroom.

As education moves away from a physical classroom setting, students increasingly expect more interactive and virtual learning environments. In light of these developments, here are some ways in which technology – specifically, video solutions – can facilitate the learning of the future.

Real-time and on-demand learning

Be it a live stream or a recorded lecture, both real-time and on-demand formats will enable all interested students, regardless of their location, to be accommodated in just one session. As a result, more students will gain access to high-quality teaching at no extra cost for the course providers. This is particularly useful for students of practical subjects like medicine. For example, the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands broadcast the first live 3D HD surgery as it happened. This opened the door for students and other experts to watch the operation in real-time and learn from the doctors performing it, no matter where they were.

Increased access to specialist training

Lessons that require external expertise (such as music, foreign languages, sports, drama) are best delivered by specialists, who have to be paid for their time coming in to the school. Video collaboration tools can eliminate travel time, ensuring that every paid minute of a specialist’s time goes towards active teaching. This should encourage schools previously put off by cost considerations to include more specialist lessons that will enhance the existing curriculum.

Ten years ago, the Dumfries and Galloway council in Scotland began a pilot scheme using video conferencing equipment to deliver music lessons to a handful of rural schools. Previously, specialist teachers in the region had to travel around the 3,000sq kilometres of county, and music education was less readily available to pupils. The initiative has since grown to include more than 120 schools.

Greater opportunities for overseas experiences Through video, students are now able to watch lessons by teachers in different countries and discuss topics with other students abroad. Sharing ideas with other cultures and working collaboratively in multi-cultural teams are key areas that schools were not able to easily offer their students before. ReefHQ Aquarium in Australia is using video conferencing to teach students first-hand about the delicate marine ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef. Without video collaboration solutions, it wouldn’t be possible for any school in EMEA to offer their students such a rich, detailed learning experience.

Although there are many advantages to be gained from using video technology in education, it is vital that schools invest in solutions that are easy to use. Most teachers are not IT experts, and if technological solutions do not provide an intuitive user experience, they will likely be neglected. At the end of the day, this should be given top priority – a video solution with a user- friendly UI that can maximise both technology adoption and student benefit. Polycom (June 2016) Education in 2025: Education Technology Innovation Survey. Available from: arch-report/2025-education-in-polycom-survey-enus.pdf

September 2017

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