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Does technology stifle creativity?

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Started by Cherryl Eden 03 May 2012 3:36pm () Replies (16)

As part of our elearning strategic planning we would like some feedback and links please re thoughts about "Does technology stifle creativity". Thank you.


  • Sean Lyons (View all users posts) 03 May 2012 4:00pm ()

    I know its been a round a while, and you've probably come across it already, but Ken Robinsons Ted Talk on a similar issue is inspiring.


  • Hazel Owen (View all users posts) 03 May 2012 5:20pm ()

    Hi Cherryl. I guess the short answer is, it depends Smile If technology = ICT qualification and is a step-by-step process learning how to use various applications (e.g. Excel...not that I have anything against spreadsheets) then, in this scenario, I couldn't really see a sliver of a chance for creativity to blossom. Likewise, if the technology is mandated and becomes the focus, it can get in the way of creativity (both for the students and the teachers).


    I would also say, however, that just providing choice around platforms, approaches and topics is not the answer either (while it would open the door wider for creativity to creep in).


    What would really blow the door wide open, I feel, would be a curriculum topic/skill(s) framed in a way that engages students - for example (and I am borrowing this from Guy Claxton's talk here) - a session on the history of New Zealand that opens with the statement "history is written by the winners". Guy teases this out into how it could lead to a discussion on points of view, bias, interpretation, 'truth' etc. I could then see how this might be opened wide up into an inquiry - for students to truly follow, research, and share their interests. The technology, if the students choose to use it, enhances and enables the whole process. And the necessary aspects of the curriculum covered in the process.


    In the latter scenario I could see how creativity could be fostered (especially if, certainly initially, it were guided and the process supported)...not by the technology per se, but by the shift in focus....

  • Jane Armstrong (View all users posts) 03 May 2012 5:21pm ()

    I've put in a couple of links to school stories on Enabling e-Learning. The first one, Using Prezi to collaborate has a teacher and students talking about how they used technology to both research and collaborate. The end result is the students used other's ideas plus their own knowledge to create something better than the could have without technology.

    The second link is to Using Storybird to improve literacy skills. In this video clip, the barrier of pen to paper is removed with the technology and students are creating and sharing stories that they are very proud of and would not have done without the technology.

  • Tania (View all users posts) 04 May 2012 7:55am ()

    And another link to check out from TKI here.  This is one of my favourite examples of how technology has supported the creativity of a 4 year old.  The story says it all so well worth checking out.

  • Nick Ford (View all users posts) 04 May 2012 9:14am ()

    What a cool question :-)  and one i think is approachable by asking the question what  is "technology"?

    I like the definition of technology given by Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology 

    "Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function." 

    For me this definition implies that technology facilitates creativity dependent upon the context in which the technology is being employed.

    I suppose an example would be to consider writing as a technology. Writing can be both creative and non-creative depending upon the context in which it is being used.

    What do you think?

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 04 May 2012 9:33am ()

    I agree with Nick, the opportunity to be creative is set in place within the task given to students.  Narrowing activities so that all students have to do the same thing in the same way, whether it is using technology or not limits creative enterprise.  Whereas asking students to explore, to rethink, to design and to use whatever tools are necessary, to share their learning with others allows for creative expression.  To me it is not to do with the technology, but the way tasks and lessons are designed that either stifles or promotes creativity.

  • Cherryl Eden (View all users posts) 04 May 2012 4:13pm ()

    Thank you everyone for your comments so far. The question " Does Technology stifle creativity and development of social skills" came from a brainstormiong session our group had re the future of elearning in our school. I am charged with the task of collecting ideas and evidence to decide either way. I personnally think our pupils need to be taught the skills so that they can use the various forms of technology in appropriate and creative ways. Please keep adding your thoughts. They are very much appreciated. Have a great weekend.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 11 May 2012 12:57pm ()

    Two words jump out at me technology and creativity. I’ll leave out the technology in this response and focus more on the word creativity.

    I have stumbled across this blog this week, Are we wringing the creativity out of kids? It all rang true for me as an ex art teacher when I read,

    Do you think you’re creative?”

    Ask this question of a group of second-graders, and about 95 percent of them will answer “Yes.” Three years later, when the kids are in fifth grade, that proportion will drop to 50 percent—and by the time they’re seniors in high school, it’s down to 5 percent.

    Jonah Lehrer author of Imagine: How Creativity Works. begins his book with quoting Picasso: “Every child is born an artist. The problems begin once we start to grow up.” Even though this has been written in the context of art in education, there was a very specific time-frame, where many students will believe/say they are not creative – how sad.


    It also makes for good reading when we consider – what is our role in this and how can we intervene to turn these views around? Maybe it has nothing to do with technology?

  • Simon Evans (View all users posts) 03 Jun 2012 4:23pm ()

    I guess it is very relient on how the task is approached. Below are a few links to 'Snapshots' on Software for Learning that I hope might inspire software and app use to support the curriculum.

    Youtube - Exploring virtues using YouTube as an interactive presentation tool. (Year 8)

    FrameByFrame - Children retell their stories through animation. (Year 0)

    Photo Booth - Using Photo Booth in preparing to mihi. (Year 5/6)

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 24 Nov 2014 12:45pm ()

    I stumbled across this article today, Can Any School Foster Pure Creativity? and thought I'd reignite the old (yet on-going) debate around creativity. The article starts out by asking, How do we promote creativity in schools and can creativity be measured?

    There's a conflict here between creativity, it's decline and the correlation to what 'can or cannot me' measured.

    Creativity is based on thinking unconventionally, having time to daydream or simply reflect, understanding that there is no single right answer, and appreciating and valuing failure. All of these experiences run counter to what’s measured, and thus valued, in the public school system.

    It goes on to say, 

    Even more disturbing is that characteristics associated with creativity, such as being impulsive and taking risks, are closely aligned with what the American Psychiatric Association considers to be symptoms of ADHD. In the school environment, creativity can be considered pathological behavior as opposed to the compliant traits of being reliable, sincere, good-natured, responsible, tolerant, and peaceable — the qualities associated with the lowest levels of creativity.

    Do you agree with this article, when the author writes, Given these circumstances, the idea of teaching creativity in an environment that requires assessment, evaluation, and grading seems unlikely, if not impossible?

    What do you think? How can we overcome these challenges, so that schools can foster creativity? What happens at your place?

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 24 Nov 2014 1:42pm ()

    Hi Tessa,

    I believe the article is partially correct, although has been written to create controversy.  ADHD does indeed consist of impulsivity and risk taking as some its attributes, but these characteristics do not define an ADHD sufferer.  But when the author then goes on to say that creativity can be considered pathological behaviour in the school system, their views must be based on a different countries system.  Within the New Zealand school curriculum there is massive flexibility.  It’s just a matter of each individual school interpreting what they have to do, and what they want to do. 

    Our school has a focus on 'the arts', hence creativity is fostered.  Students are offered a range of musical, visual, performance, and technological arts.  We feel that this has made a substantial impact on how our students think, and their 'learner agency'.

    On a side note:  I'm not sure if 'creativity' can be taught.  I can be fostered and encouraged and schools can teach techniques on how to manifest an individuals creativity, but teaching someone to be 'creative'.... I don't know...  i.e. Playing the piano isn't creative, but designing and playing your own composition is.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 25 Nov 2014 11:54am ()

    Hi Hamish, yes I have to agree, this was definitely an American based view in this article. I enjoyed how evocative it was. Thanks also for sharing how your school encourages creativity through the arts. My favourite area of the Curriculum I have to say.

    Teaching creativity is a whole new paradigm to debate. A long while ago now, I touched on those same ideas in a VLN thread called, Does Creativity Require Constraints? I also love how technology can enhance creativity as highlighted in this thread, UDL, access and creativity.

    Tom Chapin's Not on the Test blog and the advocation for the arts is still very relevant too. I'd love to know what you think of his parody music video below.


  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 25 Nov 2014 2:37pm ()

    Hi Tessa,

    Agree with you that technology can enhance creativity.  It certainly provides yet another way for us to create.  As an early learner I wasn't allowed to be creative as I'm not an artist or musical as that was all I was offered.  But now as a learner in the modern sense, I am able to code, create music and video and explore and express my creativity 

    That generates another great 'debate'.  We all knew that National Standards wouldn't be indicative of a future directed education model, and Tom's video illustrates this and other points very well.  

    I would truly love the media to show modern education to parents.  How it has changed, and how creativity is the one thing that robots and computer can't do.  The one thing that will be values as we progress into the digital production age.  Perhaps then the government will change their view?  Generate another 'reform'  haha... 

    I find it strange that within a school the structure starts at the BOT, principal, leadership and teachers.  Where it should be starting at a government level, and flow into BOT from there.    Government seem to be the last level of change in education.  I love this.... really gets my blood bubbling!!  : )


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 25 Nov 2014 11:45pm ()

    Hi Hamish, you're right about schools having the power to address what is important for our students - really important, especially when trying to meeting the individual needs of students in each school.

    Similar points are noted in this thread too on, Curriculum design and review | An Enabling e-Learning and NZC eventOur NZ Curriculum is flexible enough to interpret and implement at a localised level, which is exciting. 

    On a national level: I was inspired (last month) when I attended several live webinars during Connected Educator Month to see the direction future-focused policy and implementation is moving in.

    EG: Webinars like:

    and >>>

    • NZQA Assessment online: 14 October. NZQA developments towards Digital assessment - where  examination and assessment practices are moving towards assessing metacognitive processes that apply thinking and problem solving, rather than knowledge retention alone. Exciting!

    Technologies play a large role in these developments. Creativity can be a driver as well.  smiley

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