Supporting Academic Creativity With Online Tools

| May 11, 2011

I’ll be co-presenting with Peter Beaugard (on “Using Graphic Design Methods & Interactive Tools to Encourage Play in Online Learning”) and Nate Dern – (on “Crowdsourcing Creativity”). Join us at “Tech Panel I” at 10:45 – 12:15, on Friday May 27, 2011. My session is titled, “Supporting Academic Creativity With Online Tools.”

What is academic creativity and why support it?

“Academic creativity” is not the same as just any kind of creativity. It’s creativity that’s exhibited/manifested/experienced in the pursuit of scholarly work – a sub-genre of creativity, if you will. So my hope is that a discussion of how to support it will be slightly more tractable.

Why support it? Unlike creativity in general, academic creativity is dependent upon educational organizations – let’s say by definition. More creativity in the pursuit of academic work could entail several broad characteristics: Students would be more inspired to learn. Teachers would be more inspired to teach. And it would lead researchers down new, interesting, and fruitful paths.

Creativity, on this view, is a lot like knowledge-sharing in general. But rather than over-determine the kind of activities, processes, and results that can be identified with creativity, let’s just keep a social, generative definition in mind.

So, are the organizations you know supporting creativity? How? And how might they be hindering it? (“By being too academic” is not specific enough in this case).

What will my talk at the panel session be about?

To open a discussion about the possibilities and limitations of academic creativity, I’ll share an example of a software application (pressible.org) designed to support and enhance knowledge sharing in an academic community. By contrasting its social characteristics with other knowledge sharing tools, I argue that it strikes a balance between strict scholarly norms and the alluring possibility of abandoning them.

For example, Pressible allows for creating “citations” in a non-traditional way. Instead of promoting the use of footnotes (etc.), it makes a “Repost” feature available to Pressible authors. Reposting allows Pressible authors to quote another author on the Pressible network with one click (also

I hope the discussion will allow participants to share experiences (good and bad) with similar online tools, or present ideas for enhancing tools with the goal of academic creativity in mind.