Is there only one answer to the eLearning problems that you look at? Then you are not being imaginative enough…

Innovation-EngineI have been enjoying absorbing the first lecture in a recent MOOC I am involved with through NovoEd, called Creativity: Music to My Ears. It started this week and the instructor, Tina Seeling from Stanford University shared that her ultimate goal is to help students come up with the big ideas and bring them to life. She shared a story about writing her book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity and how it went through many drafts because she didn’t just want to write just another book on creativity. So instead she chose to look at the creative process and how to bring ideas to life. In the top right we find her model which she calls, “The Innovation Engine.”

As she shared this model with us she reminded us that we all began our creative journeys many years ago with our child imaginations. Over the last 30 years or so (for me and what I will admit to) my imaginative ability has dwindled and brought me to where I am today. Why is that she asks?

Well in school we are often asked questions with one correct answer. She gave the example of 5 + 5 = ? So the more we go in school the more we are conditioned for questions like this. The questions might become more difficult but they are still factual and only have one correct answer. So they always look at every problem through this lens.

Re-framing Problems
Tina shared that creative people often look at problems through different lenses and reframe the problem. This is key for creative thinking. There isn’t always one right answer. So instead of teaching 1st graders what is 5 + 5 = ? We could teach them what is ? + ? = 10. How many more answers are there to this problem? Yes. An infinite number.

I loved how Tina then says, “notice how the answer isn’t baked into the question that you asked!” I wonder how prescriptive our eLearning is sometimes to make sure that the learner can easily accomplish the objectives. But students being asked these types of questions are critical to cultivate creativity. She then says that if we don’t “question the questions you are asking then you are not going to come up with innovative solutions!”

She reminds us that this step is so crucial because it is important in framing and reframing problems as it is a way to increase your imagination. Take this image below from MC Escher. Here we are challenged to look at things from different perspectives. Are we looking at ducks, fish, earth, sky, etc.

escher_sky_waterWhat do you think? Are you thinking creatively with your eLearning? Do you have a prescriptive way that you always bring to the table with your client? What about your experiences that you design? Are the engaging discussion questions very factual or are students asked to express their opinions? Are diverse answers welcomed and shared? There are so many ways to get our students to think more creatively in our eLearning experiences, but something is often blocking us from doing that isn’t it?

In the next post I will discuss what Tina shares about creativity and how important it is for us to connect and combine ideas with a very tasty analogy 🙂

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About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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2 Responses to Is there only one answer to the eLearning problems that you look at? Then you are not being imaginative enough…

  1. Pingback: Chindōgu, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and eLearning | coffeeanDesign

  2. Pingback: Do you have the right attitude toward your eLearning? | coffeeanDesign

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