Tuesday, January 28, 2014

CPD: Creativity and Critical Thinking in Higher Education - Week 1

Today I started a new module as a Continuing Professional Development qualification in "Creativity and Critical Thinking in Higher Education" being delivered by the DIT  Learning, Teaching & Technology Centre.

One of the modules I teach for the MSc in Computing students is "Problem Solving, Innovation and Communications" which focuses on creativity techniques, and part of my reason for doing this module is to look for new and different ways to present the material. Another module I teach for the MSc students is "Research Methods and Proposal Writing", so I'm hoping the critical thinking element will help for that module.

Although I am voluntarily taking this module, nonetheless, as with all new student experiences for me, I approached the first day with dread: Would I be completely lost in this module? Would I be able to cope with the academic demands of this module? Would I have time to do all the activities?


The opening activity involved introducing ourselves to three other people, it's something I'm fairly terrible at, but thankfully everyone I spoke to was so courteous and friendly that activity with very easy.

Reflection: As I hate doing this sort of thing myself,  I never get my students to do this, I generally do an icebreaker with "Two truths and a lie".


The next activity involved going out into the corridor and ordering ourselves left-to-right in order of our month of birth without speaking. This was successfully accomplished, first by going to the place approximately along the line proportionately to the month position, and then using fingers to illustrate the month number.

Reflection: I do something similar in my class where I get the students to guess my age based on "the wisdom of crowds", I'll definitely try this activity next class.


Following this we were given a task to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow, when the marshmallow needed to be on top of the tower.

Not a great success:

Reflection: A highly fun and practical activity that helped bring up together as a team, and really helped us get to know each other quickly, and start focusing on something practical. Tom Wujec's talk is good, the bit where he talks about high rewards bringing less success is mirrored by Dan Pink's book "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us".


The last activity involved us undertaking a series of tasks, included, taking pictures of local monuments, describing Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats, identifying the authors of some creativity quotes, each member undertaking a VARK Learning Styles survey, locating a nice MindMap image, drawing four lines to cover nine dots.
Reflection: A fun activity that helped us get to know each other more, and provided members of the team with activities that helped them learn a little more on eLearning.


To help decide what we is going to be the focus of our infographic, and plan next week's activities, we are using the provided platform, Wikispaces.

Reflection: Just spent a few hours using Wikispaces, and it's still as bad as ever, I've had several bad experiences with it already, and really prefer PBWiki or TWiki. As an example of it dreadfulness, two of us were editing the same page and one of us saved their version, the second of us overwrote those changes. Wikispace should lock the page that I am currently editing to others like most other wikis do, grrrr...  Also it is not obvious once you've uploaded a file that you need to click on it to actually add it onto the page.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Any concerns I had about my ability to do the module quickly disappeared after today's class with Roisin and Jen, individually they are excellent lecturers but together they complement each other wonderfully.

  • de Bono, E., 1985, "The Six Thinking Hats", Penguin.  
  • Surowiecki, J., 2005, "The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations", Doubleday.