Creative Learning Lab develops innovative learning environments and installations. This is a research and development laboratory that wants to stay in close connection with the perception of young people and the wishes of teachers.
The research agenda of Creative Learning Lab focuses on the following themes at the moment: playful learning, co-creation, media literacy and user-centric production. But it's not a static agenda: new, relevant subjects will be added where needed.
The Creative Learning Lab is part of the Waag Society, an ICT research foundation working in the social and cultural domain, located in Amsterdam.
To answer questions about the added value of IT and new media for education, the Creative Learning Lab initiates small scale projects in a direct cooperation with end users to develop prototypes and pilots.
Science and mathematics education is important for Europe. Creativity and innovation are equally recognised as important, and their strengthening in and through education as a vital priority. Importantly, also, creativity holds a strong position in early childhood. The Creative Little Scientists project constitutes a timely contribution to a better understanding, at the European level, of the potential available on the common ground that science and mathematics education in pre-school and early primary school can share with creativity.
The recommendations of important European reports in science and mathematics education urge countries to implement innovative curricula and ways of organising the teaching of science and mathematics that address the issue of low student motivation, and ensure that science and mathematics education engages students before the age of 14.
It is widely acknowledged that empowering today’s students to become tomorrow’s creative citizens should be a priority of education in today’s world. Innovation and creativity are vital for economic and social progress, while qualities of mind such as inventiveness, imagination, intuition, wonderment and curiosity are vital for innovation and creativity.
Interestingly, an inherent link seems to exist between creativity and science and mathematics education. Science intrinsically involves inquiry and invention, which are triggered by curiosity, intuition, imagination, all of them elements closely related to creativity; it is also widely accepted nowadays that effective science and mathematics education is based on inquiry, which leads to wonder, and is fuelled by curiosity. However, traditional science and mathematics education is missing the element of creativity.
Despite universal recognition of the importance of inquiry based methods for science and mathematics education, they have not been implemented on a large scale in many European countries, resulting in less effective science learning. However, even in many contexts in which inquiry based science education has become mainstream in the educational discourse, the link with creativity is not explicitly acknowledged.
It seems therefore that we should explore the potential for science and mathematics education that exists on the common ground that it shares with creativity in pre-school and early primary school. The Creative Little Scientists project is a timely response to these needs.
The C2Learn project aims to introduce an innovative digital gaming and social networking environment incorporating diverse tools, the use of which can foster co-creativity in learning processes in the context of both formal and informal educational settings.
In developing this project, we are innovating methodologically by introducing two new non-linear thinking processes, as fundamental heuristic devices in assisting the user to generate new types of candidate solutions. These innovations are based on most recent results of cognitive science research, which have marked a breakthrough in our understanding of the roots of reasoning and its relation to emotion and representation: Diagrammatic Reasoning and Emotional Reasoning.
We shall also implement these non-linear thinking methodologies in game environments, especially for school age users, in order to enhance the motivational component and to enrich the manner and opportunities of engagement with these activities. In so doing, we shall be guided by an acclaimed educational theory on how to use digital gaming and social networking technology to promote creative thinking in children and the young.
The C2Learn environment will be an open-world "sandbox'' (non-linear) virtual space enabling learners to freely explore ideas, concepts, and the 'shared' knowledge available on the semantic web and the virtual communities in which they participate. In this open-world sandbox, creativity is contextually defined as open-ended, and has no pre-sets or barriers. So too will be the virtual game environment housing nonrestrictive opportunities for learners to engage in creative problem-finding and creative problem solving. These new computational tools - rather than setting a series of preset problems and challenges based on players' previous actions in the virtual game environment - will afford and generate potential playful experiences surrounding creative problem solving and non-linear thinking tasks.
Much social creativity involves human collaboration through and about artifacts that embody collective knowledge resulting from the collaboration. It can be a catalyst to enable European SMEs and large organizations to adopt and sustain new approaches to learning by fostering non-linear and non-standard thinking and allowing promising ideas to be transformed into new processes, products, services or business models
To this end COLLAGE will exploit new synergies between the social Web phenomenon, emerging Web analytics, collaboration and gaming technologies to energize and enable social creativity in learning. It will design, develop and validate an innovative cloud-enabled Social Creativity Service-Set that will support the interlinking of learning processes and systems with (i) social computational services for inspiring learners,
(ii) social affinity spaces for leveraging expression and exploration, and (iii) social game mechanics for supporting social evaluation and appreciation of creative behaviour.
The COLLAGE service set will be applied to enhance creativity in the learning processes of: FIAT SEPIN, which provides training to the Fiat Group and its automobile ecosystem; CEDEP, the executive education consortium; and WAAG, the creative technology society. COLLAGE will aim to generate:
- Economic impact by enabling SMEs and large organizations to capitalize on the creative capabilities of their employees through new value creation.
- Technological impact by advancing leading edge technologies (context-aware computing, web analytics and social computational systems) towards creativity support.
- Impact on TEL by providing an open-source service-set for social creativity able to mash-up with existing learning processes and solutions.
- Scientific impact by advancing research in prominent research areas such as creativity models for learning, game-based learning and social recommender systems.
Innovation and creativity are predictors of success in a knowledge-based. Yet the "fuzziness" and unpredictability of the creative workflow remains an obstacle for effective ICT support. Tools that require users to formalize and structure their ideas and working processes to a degree at odds with creative practice are frequently rejected. The IdeaGarden project therefore starts from an understanding of creative problem solving as a complex and situated knowledge practice rather than as a set of well-defined methods and techniques.
The project will develop a creative learning environment, capitalizing on the notion of visual information mash-ups as catalysts for creative working and learning. Adopting a practice-oriented approach will further the understanding of creativity in different settings and open up new perspectives for ICT support. This perspective will also give rise to new methods for seeding and cultivating creative knowledge practices in workplace and educational settings. To leverage the capabilities of current ICT systems, new interactions techniques will be devised that enable users to stay in control and collaboratively navigate the creative process, handling multiple types of resources. In addition, taking benefit of the "Linked Data" paradigm will provide new possibilities for creative search, the construction of knowledge as well as the reflection of the collaborative process.
The R&D work starts with research into creative knowledge work in industry (at LEGO and EOOS) and education (at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design). Based on the careful analysis of creative practices, we will envision and implement working demonstrators. Formative evaluation combined with a two-round development process will ensure that the IdeaGarden system fits its users' needs while summative evaluation will validate the overall utility of the approach to promote nonlinear, non-standard thinking and problem solving among experts and novices.
Le numérique a investi toutes les formes de créations et d’échanges, bousculant jusqu’aux fondements du lien social. Il est devenu aujourd’hui un mode d’expression à part entière, et fait évoluer les modes de diffusion des œuvres et des objets culturels dans tous les domaines (patrimoine public et privé, production multimédia, innovation et recherche...).
Qu’il s’agisse de culture artistique, scientifique, technologique, médiatique, informationnelle, quelles médiations l’École doit-elle mettre en œuvre pour tirer parti de ce formidable gisement ? Comment permettre aux élèves de développer leur créativité et leur intelligence "sensible", en utilisant les nouvelles ressources éducatives, parcours, visites 3D, modélisations, jeux, vidéos… ?
Plus largement, comment former des jeunes à cette nouvelle culture et leur donner les moyens d’être acteurs de la société numérique ?
The two-year CPDLab project, started in October 2011, aims to improve the quality of ICT-related Continuing Professional Development available to teachers, school leaders and other school staff and help schools become effective learning environments by offering a portfolio of training courses directly related to the needs of teachers in the future classroom.
The CPDLab project is a small, two year project, supported by the Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme as a Comenius Multilateral Project. It will deliver three training courses for teachers in the areas of:
- Interactive Whiteboards: innovative pedagogical use of Interactive Whiteboard technologies in secondary schools.
- E-Safety: improved eSafety policies in secondary schools, addressing issues such as cyber bullying, use of social networks, responsible use of mobile and Internet technologies, etc.
- Future Classroom Scenarios: implementation and dissemination of teaching and learning activities for the future classroom.
The first course modules will be piloted in summer 2012. The fully validated courses will be available from summer 2013.
Rationale for the development of CPDLab Courses
The development of the three courses has been prioritised, to address gaps in the current provision.
A wide range of Interactive Whiteboard courses exist today. Many of these are linked to vendors and are delivered as part of the initial purchase. IWB teacher communities have built up around this training, which encourage the sharing of ideas and these are particularly active within subject disciplines. However, recent research supported by Ministries of Education in European Schoolnet’s Interactive Whiteboard Working Group shows that there is a lack of a generic pedagogically-based IWB course.
In e-Safety, there is a wealth of information on the different issues and within each member state there are websites to download relevant information. There are training courses addressing specific issues e.g.: cyber-bullying. Recent research has confirmed there is still limited training for schools on this issue which has contributed to the launching a pilot for a schools’ eSafety Label.
The third course is linked to the iTEC project. This four-year, pan-European project is focused on the design of the future classroom. Divided into phases, the project will deliver a range of innovative learning activities and validate these via pilots in over 1,000 classrooms across Europe. The CPDLab project will develop training around these validated learning activities in order to spread and disseminate best practice.
Target groups for CPDLab training
The CPDLab courses are aimed at secondary schools. The main audience for the training will be teachers and trainers involved in continuous professional development within their school, region or country. Some modules will be of more interest to senior management and policy makers and the courses will be designed in a modular style to enable different learning pathways according to the needs of different groups.
Validation and Quality Assurance
Two teacher focus groups, consisting of teachers from each partner country, will contribute to the course development and validation process. The quality assurance process, will receive input and steering from a project Pedagogical Board comprising of experts in each of the areas, with review and critical friend input from an appointed independent evaluation expert.
Delivery of CPDLab training courses
The CPDLab Courses will be delivered as five day training courses, taking advantage of the in-service Comenius funding available for teachers. These courses will be delivered in the Future Classroom Lab, a fully equipped, reconfigurable, teaching and learning space that is part of the European Schoolnet office in Brussels.
The modular design of the courses, will offer the flexibility for various member states to take up all or some of the modules depending on their existing national and regional models. A course catalogue will be translated into the four languages of the project partners – Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Italian.
CPDLab Courses availability
To accelerate the dissemination and exploitation of the courses being developed, it is hoped that the first modules can be offered in the summer of 2012, following trialling with teacher focus groups and some early pilot training.
- Survey: Oct-Dec 2011
- Course development - phase 1: Jan-Mar 2012
- Course development Focus Group: Apr 2012 - Mar 2013
- Course development - phase 2: Jul 2012 - Jun 2013
- Course validation Focus Group: Jul 2012 - Jun 2013
- Final courses: Jul - Sep 2013
What are ‘Creative Classrooms’ and how can they be successfully implemented? Stefania Bocconi and Panagiotis Kampylis work at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, and have been researching how to innovate teaching and learning practices at a system level. They co-authored an article with Yves Punie on this topic, recently published at eLearning Papers.
What does a Creative Classroom look like?
Stefania: By 'creative' we refer to new practices. These can include collaboration, peer to peer collaboration, connection with the outside world, use of open education resources, and more.
As far as ‘classroom’, in this case we refer to all learning environments, both formal and informal, which take advantage of optimal use of ICT. The way we see it, however, is that the innovation of practices is at the core of everything.
How does your approach differ?
Stefania: We’ve come up with a multi-dimensional framework, one that addresses key dimensions such as curriculum and content, assessment, learning, teaching, and organizational practices, leadership and values, connectedness, and infrastructures. The idea is to depict a systemic approach, which is what is needed to undertake and sustain ICT innovation.
When you say ‘systemic’, what exactly do you mean? How does a multi-dimensional approach fit the reality of practitioners on the field?
Stefania: The truth is, there is no single measure that fits all. But what we’ve found is that the cases that have successfully survived the initial pilot phase are those in which all these dimensions are present at a very local level, from the bottom up.
Panagiotis: It’s common for schools to focus on just one or two aspects, but this doesn’t translate into sustainability, so they often have to change their approach after the initial phase of implementation.
What's the status of Creative Classrooms in Europe?
Panagiotis: There are actually a lot of initiatives, but they’re currently fragmented, kind of like islands of innovation. The missing element is learning from each other, finding ways to sustain them, and making them mainstream.
To what extent has ICT changed things? Are creativity and innovation necessarily at odds with traditional teaching methods?
Panagiotis: Well, we have to understand that ICT is not an end in itself, but a means to innovative pedagogy. It’s not an imperative, but technology can help us do new things in a better way. Essentially, we’re at a point in time in which we have to rethink what, how, why, with who, and when we learn.
Stefania: From what we’ve seen, the common thread of successful Creative Classrooms is placing the learner and the learning process at the center of everything, and that sometimes means blending ICT-enabled learning practices with traditional methods.
Technology is constantly and rapidly evolving—in this context, have you encountered sustainable models of innovative teaching?
Panagiotis: Again, it’s not a matter of technology, but how you use what’s available to you. For instance, if you have an interactive whiteboard, but you use it in a traditional sense—the teacher lecturing, the students sitting in rows, listening—you’ve got a scenario in which you have the best technology, but you’re using it in a way that isn’t innovative at all. It’s just not as effective.
Stefania: When innovative pedagogical practices lie at the center of your philosophy, this means that the entire practice—teaching, learning, organization—is more open to experimentation and flexibility. That’s when you can put technology at your service, to reach your ultimate objectives, even when technology changes.
What needs to happen in order for more Creative Classrooms to be implemented?
Stefania: The next step is to combine the existing bottom-up approach with top-down support. The European Commission has already made a move in this direction, by specifically targeting Creative Classrooms as part of its LLLP project. Generally speaking, we envision an experimentation process that will involve actors at all different levels and across different countries, so as to learn from each other at a local and national level.
Panagiotis: We’ve developed this conceptualization not only based on desk research, but on an ongoing consultation process with specialists and teachers with real classroom experience. We’ve had very positive feedback, and we’ve found that stakeholders on all different levels agree we need to act, and change the way we teach the next generation.
The analytical survey “Recognizing the potential of ICT in early childhood education” involved a literature review and comprehensive analysis of theoretical approaches to early childhood education (ECE) and the methods of ICT application to child development and early learning. Innovative practices are illustrated by case studies based on experience observed in kindergartens and child development centres in various countries. Analysis of different aspects of ICT use in kindergartens, with due recognition of the advantages and risks, made it possible to reveal the opportunities that creative integration of ICT opens for more advanced development of children. The survey suggests strategies for the development of ICT capability of ECE centres and recommendations, which should be helpful for educators, parents and school policy decision makers in their efforts to adapt the child development process to the continuous evolution of the digital universe.