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avatars & the young how technology is redefining creativity in the modern classroom

Avatars & The Young Conference

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Keynote Address at the American Creativity Association's International Conference on Creativity

Text of Avatars & The Young Conference

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avatars & the younghow technology is redefining creativity

in the modern classroom

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presentation outline

• Digital revolution and the impact on education

• What has and has not changed

• Our education system’s response to the challenges posed by web 2.0

• The gaps that need to be filled

• Some attempts at bridging the gaps

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Our students sit behind blue desks and chairs, studying from textbooks and lecture notes..

This is not a thing of the past….

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eBay mySpace

Outside of school, they interact in




google earth







… different sorts of learning communities

no books no pen no paper

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… they


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… they



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… they



OTJ training!no lecturesno textbooksno instructorsno age-groupsno entry requirements

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…in Sep 2008, they will go on to construct civilisations

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• A Global Imperative: The Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit, New Media Consortium

• Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Cutlure: Media Education for the 21st Century, Henry Jenkins

• Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Changing Business Forever, Beck & Wade

• “Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning”, Marc Prensky

• … ongoing work of MacArthur Foundation, John Seely Brown, James Paul Gee, Futurelab (UK), Learning Sciences Lab (Singapore) etc…

no experts…

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“The strategic conversation has shifted: from 21st Century literacy for studentsto 21st Century literacy for teachers….”

- 21st Century Literacy Summit “A Global Imperative”The New Media Consortium San Jose, California 2005

There is a disjuncture between what and how students are learning outside of the classroomand how they are learning in the classroom

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Half of all teens in US have created media content and roughly one third of teens who use the Internet shared content they produce. (Jenkins 2005)

In Singapore, among our youth 78% of those aged 10 to 14 and

89% of those aged 15 to 19 use the internet for communicating

58% of those aged 10 to 14, and40% of those aged 15 to 29 engage in computer games like Maple Story, World of Warcraft and Counter Strike. (Infocomm Development Authority 2007)

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My computer is switched on 24/7, and I spend most of my time at home talking to others online. It’s just a habit.”

Amelia, Sec 4, Paya Lebar MGS

“The Internet is a tool that helps me connect with friends, especially the ones whom I don’t get to meet every day. It really helps in bridging the gaps between me and my friends.”

Joel, Sec 3, Junyuan Sec

“Games are an intriguing study in strategy, mathematics and logic. Contrary to what people say, there’s not much luck involved, only skill.”

David, Sec 1, ACS (Barker)

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• parallel processing• connected• active• used to twitch speed• attuned to random access • prefer graphics first• like teaching themselves• move easily between world of fantasy and the real• accept multiple truths• are comfortable with multiple identities• used to cultural diversity• used to networking• know how to improvise and get round the rules

our students are…

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And it’s not all about technology….

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Minus the technology, what has changed for our students?

• They are communicating differently : interest-based, no social dividers, age-independent.

• They are sharing differently: they don’t keep their feelings locked up in a diary; they share all sorts of things, images, music, opinions with all sorts of people.

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• They buy and sell differently: have access to new wealth, niche markets, collectibles.

• They create differently: by teaching themselves, by combining media, and coming up with new products (“modding”)

• They learn differently: searching, evaluating, analyzing and reporting from multiple sources and from different sorts of people using different media.

Minus the technology, what has changed for our students?

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Their identities are constructed differently

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Singapore, IT Masterplan (1996), mp2 (2003)

We still give students a standard body of knowledge, from authorised sources – textbooks

We imagine we have a binary relationship with them.

We still test them the same way – pen & paper.

We expect them to hand in work in the same way.

We expect one solution to every problem we give them.

We focus on content instead of context.

We don’t realise that what’s happening with web 2.0 goes beyond the hardware, and software.

But something has not changed for many of our teachers…

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Trends arising from web 2.0 that will have an impact on education

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- Always on

- Complexity

- Fusion

• Blurring boundaries between play & learning, school & leisure, real & virtual

• Increasing focus on cross-curricular skills, collaborative learning and creative thinking.

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- smaller

- faster

- cheaper

• children want to and expect to learn more quickly

• focus on efficiency (technology as a time-saver)

• learning is on the global agenda – in spheres outside traditional school

• call for education accountability at all levels increasing

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- personalised learning

- self-actualisation

- self-reliance

• loss of authority with regard to what to learn, class management, how learning takes place

• Greater demand for student involvement and choice

• greater demand diversity and learning styles, interests

• expectation of teacher performance keeps rising

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connectivity, acceleration and individualism interact…





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Beyond gadgets & devicesLearning 2.0

is about…


Option CreationPattern Recognition

Sense MakingSocial Learning

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THE FUTURE: Singapore

1960s 2000s1980s

Labour Intensive

Capital Intensive

Technology Intensive

Skills intensive

Knowledge Intensive

Innovation / Experience


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The world is looking for people who are able to:

find solutions to new/fuzzy problems• fit into many (new) careers• provide more than one answer to a problem• work with a diverse range of people & cultures• Be left and right-directed – “stories, play,

androgyny” (Pink)

…and we are not producing them in the numbers that Singapore/ the world needs.


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For Education 2.0 to happen, we need

Generation 2.0 Teachers

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From analog to digital – to engage learners in new and

powerful ways

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From knowing to creating context for learning – simulations, immersive environments, games-based learning

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From what to learn, to how to learn

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From moralising to ethical reasoning

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• Hougang Pri – mixed reality and RFID technology to teach science (collaboration with IDM Lab at NUS)

• Innova JC – Second Life/GP project (collaboration with NIE)

• Hwa Chong Institution & River Valley High – teaching science using IMAX and stereoscopic technology (collaboration with Advanced Design & Modelling Lab at NTU)

• Temasek JC - THINK Cycle to teach Science (Collaboration with Learning Sciences Lab at NIE)

• Tao Nan Sch – social science project at the zoo (collaboration with HP, IDA & CPDD)

• Nan Hua High – games-based learning for Humanities (collaboration with Futurelab and IDA)

lead@ICT schools & such

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5 futureschools@sg

• Virtual classrooms

• Virtual worlds

• Classroom of the future

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A Curriculum for the Future

- Hierarchy of subjects- Time allocated- Integration or compacting some subjects- School-based curriculum and assessment- More white space


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Curriculum Design

To incorporate elements of co-design and collaboration (mosh pits and mash ups)

example of



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Pedagogy – how we teach….


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…when CPDD, Cedar Pri, LEGO

(Denmark) and The Idea Factory

got together….

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• How should we be teaching this generation of students differently to prepare them for the 21st century world?

big question

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Trend scan:

Research into 12 important aspects of a future society:

Citizenship, Inclusivity, Pop Culture, Virtual Worlds, Education, Social Trends, Identity, Bioethics, Literacy, Morality, Work Places and Economy

Brainstorm skills that students will need to master in the future from the trends.

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Alpha Thoughts

Team was asked to identify aspects of teaching and learning that will provide a deeper experience for students.e.g.ImprovisationImaginationInteractionResilienceRisk SeekingNavigation

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Concept Trails

Team went on to brainstorm pedagogical strategies that related to each of the alpha ideas:

e.g.Focus-based, dream-driven pedagogyImmersiveDefeat-drivenJustice or ethics drivenCriticalExperimental …and how these would look like in the classroom

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Insight Quest:

Ethnography – 3 teachers, 6 students

– how they live and learn and what their aspirations are.

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Beta Ideas

10 ideas were picked and in groups, team members brainstormed examples of lessons centred on the key idea behind the pedagogy.

e.g. Inspiration-driven pedagogyMoshingDefeat-driven etc…

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Idea.Lab: What Cedar did….

Prototype pedagogical elements such as

Emotional– engagement, human feelingsDialogical – learnable momentsPraxis – theory to actionJustice – purposefully inclusiveSpontaneity – flexibility to capture teachable momentReal world – relevant

(playing with Lego bricks)

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Idea.Lab: What CPDD did….

Prototype the creation process in a school that was trying to find an answer to their BIG Question

(How do we make Project Work as a subject relevant and engaging for our students?)

….we also some of the pedagogical strategies.

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For each pedagogy, we discussed…

• Why the need?• How it would be done?• What would the result be?• What qualities and/or resources would

teachers need?

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a pedagogy centred on contents of the future

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A pedagogy centred on de-education


A pedagogy centred on deep self-awareness

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Chaos Navigation

A pedagogy centred on sense-making

Option Creation

A pedagogy centred on choices

Inspire to Aspire

A pedagogy centred on dialogues for inspiration

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Responsible Rebellion

A pedagogy centred on championing a cause

Circle of Life

A pedagogy focused on the concept of ecological systems

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Defeat-driven Pedagogy

A pedagogy that exploits the merits of defeat or failure


A pedagogy centred on collaboration and co-creation of knowledge

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A pedagogy centred on story-telling


A pedagogy centred on immersive environments

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Idea.Lab: What LEGO did….

Look into teacher development and assessment instrument for teacher competencies.

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Teacher traits…

• Facilitation• Questioning• Navigation• Connectivity (ability to synthesise)• Communication• Improvisation

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What The Idea Factory did….

Facilitate the process.

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A four-party, cross cultural collaboration

…way to go?

Don’t know for sure….but it mirrors our students’ experience in web 2.0