Topic 3 Creative processes for a digital generation: encouraging self-expression and innovation

Creativity and innovation are becoming increasingly important for the development of the 21st century knowledge society. They contribute to economic prosperity as well as to social and individual wellbeing and are essential factors for a more competitive and dynamic Europe. Education is seen as central in fostering creative and innovative skills (Ferrari et al., 2009).

Creative and innovative potential development

There is a need to encourage the development learners’ creative and innovative potential for several reasons:

the upsurge of new media and technologies that learners use in their everyday lives can be exploited in creative and innovative ways and contribute to formal and informal learning;

the immersion in this media-rich environment leads new cohorts of students to learn and understand in different ways, therefore teachers need to develop creative approaches and find new methods, solutions and practices to grab their attention;

creativity is a form of knowledge creation, therefore stimulating creativity has positive spillover effects onto learning, supporting and enhancing self-learning, learning to learn and life-long learning skills and competences.

Creativity and innovation can play an important role in the knowledge society. Creativity is conceptualised as a skill for all. It is an ability that everyone can develop and it can therefore be fostered or, likewise, inhibited. Educational actors have the power to unlock the creative and innovative potential of the young.

Creativity has been defined as a product or process that shows a balance of originality and value. It is a skill, an ability to make unforeseen connections and to generate new and appropriate ideas.

Creative learning is therefore any learning which involves understanding and new awareness, which allows the learner to go beyond notional acquisition, and focuses on thinking skills. It is based on learner empowerment and centeredness. The creative experience is seen as opposite to the reproductive experience.

 Innovation is the application of such a process or product in order to benefit a domain or field – in this case, teaching. Therefore, innovative teaching is the process leading to creative learning, the implementation of new methods, tools and contents which could benefit learners and their creative potential (Ferrari et al., 2009).

Understanding creativity means addressing the above issues and being aware of the potential of everyone to become creative (Beghetto, 2007). When your mention creativity during teaching what do you have in mind?

Electricity is not only present in a magnificent thunderstorm and dazzling lightning, but also in a lamp; so also, creativity exists not only where it creates great historical works, but also everywhere human imagination combines, changes, and creates anything new.

(Lev Vygotsky, 1930/1967)

Read the following chapter of the book ” Developing the Cambridge learner attributes” on Innovation and creativity


In physical education, creativity may involve a dance or gymnastic sequence, or collaborative invention of a new ball game. In music, it could imply an individual or collaborative composition. For ICT, it could be inventing a database to answer learners’ questions about a specific topic.

Wyse and Jones (2003) give some practical guidance to foster creativity, offering both suggestions on specific subjects and providing an overview on how to develop creativity and thinking across the curriculum. Fisher and William (2004) also show how creativity can be developed across the curriculum, offering both theoretical and practical advice on how to develop learners’ capacity for creative thinking and achievement and use creativity to increase levels of motivation and self-esteem.

Depending on the curriculum, what digital processes and tools could be engaged to unlock learners’ creativity and innovation?

A path to innovation in education would be the establishment of a network of teachers to disseminate good practice (Hargreaves, 2003). Schools are a good repository of expertise and variety; teachers have therefore to be encouraged to share their expertise through the observation of other teachers within and outside their school (Simplicio, 2000). Another option could be the establishment of an institutional virtual network of expertise, where teachers could exchange resources and tips (Hargreaves, 2003). Again, technologies are fundamental for this kind of transformation, as ICT can be an effective and affordable means of peer-to-peer exchange and networking.

Discuss with your peers about the exchange of resources and tips about creativity and innovation by using ICTs.

Educators need to be able to encourage but also to identify creative processes during their learning activities. The role of ICTs can be important to aid innovation and creativity in digital environments. Networking could enable people to develop collaborative forms of learning. Technological solutions could act as platforms which help educators  to act as mentors and to build new and innovative ways of teaching and for their students to develop their creative skills and to learn in new, creative ways.