Focusing On Creativity In A Digital Era


Focusing On Creativity In A Digital Era

by Leah Hinton,

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Our children will grow up into a world that we can barely yet conceive of. Education thinkers and leaders are now in broad agreement that in order to enable children to succeed in the 21st century we need to mould creative thinkers and problem solvers who can learn, unlearn and relearn.

A 2012 US survey of 1,000 college educated professionals found that 82% of respondents wished they had more exposure to creative thinking as students and 9/10 of them believed creative thinking is important for future economic prosperity. Similarly, a 2010 IBM report of 1500 CEOs saw them highlight creative problem solving as the most necessary skill to navigate the social and economic challenges of the future.

So when should we start nurturing creativity and how do we do this?

We all know elementary aged children are inherently creative. The challenge for parents and educators is focusing this innate creativity into structured and productive activities that produce tangible outcomes. In my current position as a Digital Arts teacher I have been exploring the growing role technology is playing in providing solutions. In particular, I have seen the opportunities presented by digital media as a channel for focusing creativity while developing crucial 21st century communication skills.

The challenge for elementary teachers like myself is this – how do we embed digital media in our classrooms through authentic meaningful learning engagements, particularly considering the pressures on our planning and resourcing time and the constraints of an already bursting curriculum?

There have been many attempts to meet these needs with education technology.  But the fact is that so far these attempts have failed to make a significant impact on the education landscape. So what is wrong? As noted in the recent Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation report (Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools) there is a disconnect between teachers and those who develop and buy instructional tools for them.

Teachers know that in order to develop higher-order thinking children need the chance to apply their creativity to tasks that focus their ideas in a logical, sequential and practical way. Digital media software such as iMovie and Garageband offer the tools – we then need to scaffold children through the creative concepts and processes behind the development of digital media showpieces such as films and soundtracks.

We know what children need for success in the 21st century and we have the tools to get them there. The onus is on teachers and developers to team up and make it happen. We need to maximise the opportunities presented by the emerging world of digital media to provide the creative learning solutions for children, in the classroom and beyond.

Leah Hinton is a Digital Arts teacher and co-founder of TechSpaghetti, a creative education initiative for elementary age children. You can sign up for free video classroom lessons and support Leah’s vision through her campaign page here:; image attribution flickr user karlisdambrans