#LTHEchat183: Make of it what you will: Experiencing making as a learning approach Guest hosts Dr Kate Cuthbert @cuthbert_kate Suzanne Faulkner @suzanne.faulknerPandO Dr Safia Barikzai @SafiaBarikzai and Dr Dawne Irving-Bell @belld17

It’s a perennial conversation in education about the prominence of creativity and indeed the borrowing of creative methodologies from the arts by many disciplines as an approach to learning.

There are several situational prompts however that provoked us into thinking that a LTHEchat discussion on creativity, and making, wouldn’t go a miss. Creativity is a slippery beast, beset with definitional challenges and with such diversity in context, experience and culture. We are keen for our discussion to consider how our own experiences of creativity and making as educators influences our pedagogic decisions. We are also interested in how these experiences link to confidence and perceived authority to be creative and perhaps be more experimental within our teaching and learning practice.

Situational Prompts for this LTHEchat

  1. Whilst COVID is forcing enormous change in all learning encounters, this is bound to be really felt on courses that depend on the use of production spaces and workshops. Social distancing measures are possible but at the best of times production and workshop spaces are at a premium. How will students collaborate, produce, make and experience creativity in a predominantly blended learning space? If demand for this studio space is tight for even students enrolled on programmes that require making, how is it possible to extend the making and creativity offer universally?
  2. Towards the end of August this year we heard the new that Sir Ken Robinson had died. The number of tweets from HE educators who expressed how Sir Ken’s mantra on creativity had influenced their learning and teaching career was noteworthy. This won’t be new to many of you but it is one of the most viewed TEDtalks, Here’s Sir Ken presenting the case for creativity in education here
  3. Making as a means of well-being….Anyone fallen back on creative activities as a survival mechanism during lockdown? Across academic twitter we’ve noticed that people are knitting, painting, seeking immersion in nature. See here for a crafting group hosted by Celia Popovic @celia_popovic. @NTUTilt and the academic practice team used “making” to develop a team connection when we were forced apart. We learned more about the people in the team and their skills beyond learning and teaching. How can these skills and occupations utilised as not only part of our learning and teaching practice but as a buffer for the potential stressors we are likely to experience as we continue into the new academic term.
  4. The pace and scale of experimentation in learning and teaching at both mirco and macro level is unprecedented. This is also amplified as this is such a global shared experience (rather than it being just an institution refreshing curriculum)- every institution is reimagining, trying out, embarking on mass experimentation. How can the level of experimentation be managed and nurtured beyond the “emergency” phase? How have you coped with this magnitude of experimentation? How has it developed your professional practice?

A Maker-Mob

For this chat we are going to practice what we are preaching and experiment ourselves. We have had the nutty idea that could we introduce an element of “maker” into the chat.

How this will work

Instead of Q4 for this chat we will tweet out a trigger- inviting you to create a representation on your feelings/ perception on a certain area of learning and teaching practice.

The materials you can use for this are down to you (and what you have available). Here are some ideas;

  • Playdoh, Tinfoil, bluetac- good for modelling
  • Paper, newspapers, toilet rolls, pegs, elastic bands, feathers, post-it notes, Sellotape, match sticks (channel the Blue Peter presenter in you!)
  • Lego of course (other toys are available!)
Some examples of models to represent roles, perceptions and emotions
Thanks to last week’s host @hintondm for the signpost to her thread about Lego Serious Play

It doesn’t have to be 3-D It could be a rich picture or sketchnote conveying your response to the trigger question. You might remember a #lthechat on Visual Thinking with Professor Peter Hartley @profpeterbrad, Dr Chris Headleand @ChrisHeadleand and Dr Dawne Irving-Bell @belld17.

Example rich picture

This is only 10 minutes of the chat time and so at 20.30 we will invite you to share your creations as an image in a tweet offering a bit of explanation.

You don’t have to be an artist and beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder! Emphasis here is on experiencing making and the process being more important that the product. There seems to be something in exposing the cognitive processes you are encountering as you try to translate an abstract trigger into something tangible that you can use to communicate to others. Like all learning approaches some of you will enjoy this experiment and for others it might not be your thing! We hope that you will have a go and that the experience will be something for you to reflect on as you take forward your teaching practice.

Dr Kate Cuthbert first used playdoh and sticky-backed plastic when she was teaching nurses prescribing and communication- (imagine their faces!) Since then post-it notes or felt-tips are a permanent fixture in her teaching kitbag. Recently using Thinglink, digital infographics and advent calendars to bring in some visuals. @Cuthbert_kate

Suzanne Faulkner is a teaching fellow in Prosthetics and Orthotics, within the department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, she is also a facilitator trained in the LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) methodology. Suzanne is passionate about enhancing the student experience by focusing on improving student engagement, utilising social media in learning and teaching and incorporating playful learning. She has been nominated and shortlisted for several teaching excellence awards and is currently undertaking an EdD at the University of Strathclyde. @SFaulknerPandO

Dr Dawne Irving-Bell is the Centre for Learning and Teaching Projects Lead and a Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning Development at Edge Hill University. She can draw a bit and uses sketchnoting as a personal tool to organize her thoughts. In her teaching, she uses ‘sketchnotes’ both to communicate her perspective and help students develop techniques for their own use. @belld17

Dr Safia Barikzai is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at London South Bank University. Known to “play” with 3-D printers she is passionate about encouraging more girls to study engineering subjects through playful pedagogies, playful coding, and Lego Robotics. @SafiaBarikzai

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