Higher Education

creativity, education, and catastrophe

In this keynote at Handheld Learning 2008 in London, David Puttnam addresses some of the institutional-structural challenges that face technology and education.

Puttnam’s big picture is useful, even if somewhat familiar to those of us already in the choir. Recently, there was a thread on the Writing Program Admins list about what it would mean to envision FYC as a "born-digital" enterprise. That is, what would FYC look like if we thought of it as digital?

Clearly FYC is not and cannot be born-digital; it will have to be an immigrant. That said, I think the question must go beyond the traditional mechanism of what the individual instructor does in his/her classroom. What Puttnam points out is that the kind of shift we are looking at requires collaboration between business and education. We can build whole new technologies and applications to pursue digital composition, but we can’t do that on an individual level. Despite that, this also may not function best through a top-down, institutional strategy. Large-scale collaboration of teachers, researchers, programmers, designers, students and others is also necessary. But I don’t think that we can continue to foreground the atavism of the traditional classroom. We need to recognize what is truly valuable about FTF and integrate it into wherever we are going.

Puttnam also moves into a discussion of Ken Robinson and the issue of creativity. This is key as well. Because technological-educational reform isn’t really about getting technology to help us better achieve the goals we have established. Instead it’s about gaining a better understanding of creativity (including, but also beyond traditional artistic notions), understanding the role of emerging technology in how creativity will be developed and communicated, and building pedagogy from there.

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