Creativity

 

C2Learn Conceptual FrameworkIn the C2Learn project creativity is conceptualised through the combination, for the first time, of new research-based understandings about: a) the mechanisms of creativity in the mind, and particularly Semantic Reasoning as well as two new non-linear thinking processes, Diagrammatic Reasoning and Emotional Reasoning; and b) what constitutes creativity in learning, and what new potential creativity brings to our educational present and future in the context of the new digital media age.

C2Learn set out to shed new light on, and propose and test concrete ways in which these new understanding of creativity in education and creative thinking, on the one hand, and technology-enhanced learning tools and digital games, on the other hand, can be fruitfully combined to provide young learners and their teachers with innovative opportunities for creative learning. In the first steps of the project, its theoretical positioning and conceptual landscape were further elaborated, resulting in a strong defining framework which can be summarised as follows:

C2Learn creativity is co-creativity. This is the most important concept that underpins the C2Learn digital game and tools. This creativity is not only an individual activity, but also happens in collaboration with fellow gameplayers, both inside and outside the game. Additionally these individual and collaborative creative activities form part of a wider web of communal interaction. In the project this interaction of individual, collaborative and communal creativity is referred to as ‘co-creativity’.

One of the drivers for C2Learn’s co-creativity is for gameplayers to be asking ‘what if’ and ‘as if’ questions:

· what if I choose to explore this part of the game over another…?

· what if I use this tool to help me solve a challenge...?

· how can I imagine this as if I were…?

· what happens if I collaborate with that player as if I…?

Together this ability to ask ‘what if’ and ‘as if’ questions is called ‘possibility thinking’ [1].  This is strongly encouraged in the way the C2Learn game, environment and tasks are designed in order to help gameplayers imagine new ideas; to shift from ‘what is’ to new possibilities of ‘what might be’. 

Within C2Learn gameplayers think about the consequences and impacts of their ideas and activities through gameplay. Immersion in the game requires players to ask themselves questions about how any new ideas they generate co-creatively might impact, for good or bad, on the individual, collaborative and communal dimensions of their community. Within the project this ethical element is called ‘humanising creativity’ [2]; it is creativity guided by compassion and shared values.  In order to fully achieve this ethical element of C2Learn’s co-creativity though, gameplayers must also make their decisions about consequences and impact wisely.  This means that they need to try to work as trustees of what matters in their community.  In combination C2Learn co-creativity is therefore ‘wise humanising creativity’ [3] (WHC). 

As gameplayers create wisely and humanely, cyclical developments occur between their creativity and their identity.  This is because when they play the game new ideas and designs emerge; this in turn generates change in them as ‘makers’. As they create, gameplayers collaboratively develop new ideas but as they themselves are the substance of those ideas, they are also developing or ‘becoming’ themselves. Slowly, small changes to gameplayers accumulate to contribute to ‘journeys of becoming’. These individual journeys accumulate together, embedded within an ethical awareness of the impact of creative actions on the group. Through this process small-scale creative changes or ‘quiet revolutions’ can take place for the group as a whole [4].

The C2Learn game and environment also includes a non-linear thinking technique called ‘creative emotional reasoning' [5] (CER) embedded within WHC to foster co-creativity. CER requires gameplayers to reframe problems, dilemmas and issues as a result of an intervention, such as a random word or image, in order to trigger new responses to those situations.  Through gameplay, participants’ thinking can therefore be changed by using C2Learn tools to disrupt their established routines and patterns.

There are four key defining features of the C2Learn environment which facilitate co-creativity made to foster WHC and CER. The game environment is designed to allow for 4Ps [6]:

· pluralities: opportunities for players to experiment with many different places, activities, personal identities, and people

· possibilities: opportunities for possibility thinking, transitioning from what is to what might be, in open possibility spaces

· participation: opportunities for players to take action, make themselves visible on their own terms, and act as agents of change

· playfulness: opportunities for players to learn, create and self-create in their emotionally rich, virtual and actual play-worlds.

 Ultimately, co-creativity in C2Learn will be evident in five linked ways within this environment [7] as gameplayers collaborate to:

· generate, explore and see how new ideas can have a valuable impact on their community, leaving aside ideas that do not relate to what matters to them (attending to ethics and impact);

· ask questions, debate between new ideas, find ways to negotiate conflict or to go in a different direction to fellow players if conflict is not resolved (engaging in dialogue);

· take charge of different parts of the creative process, making decisions and understanding their consequences within the rules of the game, as well as taking actions through scenarios and perhaps quests (be in control);

· be immersed in the game and its environment, and possibly addicted to gameplay and the interactive drama played out in the game-world and in real-world spaces. This might lead to gameplayers taking risks and coming up with surprising individual or shared ideas (engaged action); and

· have their thinking and action disrupted by the game’s computational tools embedded within which are CER non-linear thinking techniques. This will move them away from established routines and patterns (intervention resulting in reframing).

Within the C2Learn game, gameplayers can come up with new ideas which are held onto and used because they are valuable to the community.  Gamplayers will generate these with shared control immersed together, in a dialogic rather than hierarchical environment, and this will foster ethical awareness. C2Learn co-creativity is about these five elements in combination making them more than the sum of their parts.


[1] Craft, A., “Possibility Thinking and Fostering Creativity with Wisdom: opportunities and constraints in an English context”, in Bhegetto R. & Kaufman J. (Eds), Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; Craft, A. (2013).  Childhood, Possibility Thinking and Education Futures International Journal of Educational Research 61: 126-134    

[2] Chappell, K., Craft, A. R., Rolfe, L., & Jobbins, V. (2012). Humanizing creativity: Valuing our journeys of becoming. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 13(8). Retrieved [date] from http://www.ijea.org/v13n8/.

[3] Chappell, K., & Craft, A. (2011). Creative learning conversations: producing living dialogic spaces, Educational Research, 53:3, 363-385; Craft, A. (2012) Childhood in a digital age: creative challenges for educational futures, London Review of Education, 10:2, 173-190; 

[4] Chappell, K. & Craft, A. with Rolfe, L. and Jobbins, V. (2011) Not just surviving but thriving.  In K. Chappell, L. Rolfe, A. Craft & V.  Jobbins.  Close Encounters: Dance Partners for Creativity.  Stoke on Trent: Trentham, pp143 – 159.  For more information about this in a digital game see Craft, A., Chappell, K. and Walsh, C.S. (2013). Deliverable 2.1.1 C2Learn Learning Design for Creative Emotional Reasoning (CER). C2Learn: Creative Emotional Computational Tools Fostering Co-Creativity in Learning Processes.

[5] For a definition and analysis of CER, as well as an exposition of its theoretical foundations, see Deliverable [2.1.1]: Creative Emotional Reasoning.

[6] Craft, A. (2011).  Creativity and Education Futures.  Stoke on Trent:  Trentham Books.

[7] For more information see: Scaltsas, T., Stenning, Alexopoulos, C., K., Craft, A., Chappell, K. and Walsh, C.S. (2013). Deliverable 2.3.1. C2Learn Co-Creativity Assessment Methodology. C2Learn: Creative Emotional Computational Tools Fostering Co-Creativity in Learning Processes.