Tuesday, February 25, 2014

CPD: Creativity and Critical Thinking in Higher Education - Week 5

Week 5 of my Continuing Professional Development qualification in "Creativity and Critical Thinking in Higher Education" being delivered by the DIT  Learning, Teaching & Technology Centre.

Really, really enjoyed this module, and sad it's over.

This week our groups were to present their work to date on our inforgraphics.

The guys gave a very funny, clear presentation on an infographic on apps for students. The infographic is called "Total Appiness" and will increase the creativity of the students using apps. They quoted a lot of interesting statistics and research, and the infographic has a fantastic look. They are using thinglink.

The guys are developing an infographic on the application of the theory of creativity in Engineering first year students and staff. They looked at a lot of research on the creative process and developed a meta-analytic cycle of creativity. They focused on tying the formulas and theories into reality, and used a Roller Coaster motif. They used easl.ly and piktochart.

The guys are doing an infographic on nurturing creativity in third-level. They used a lovely metaphor of a tree, with the roots representing primary and secondary school education,  the body of the tree representing third-level education, and a bird plucking a CV from the top of the tree as the students getting jobs. They used infogr.am.

We presented our rationale for our infographic design, and presented a draft of the infographic.

Team Project work on Critical Thinking Infographic from Damian Gordon

Yellow Hat - learning object for lecturers – one stop shop for critical thinkers, Sherlock theme is creative and unique, well researched  - ‘good detective work’ Nice consistent presentation, consider accessibility, also interactive, purpose and audience clear, nicely brings in what was learned over the 5 weeks

Black Hat -
a lot of text, possibly too much information, needs to be more concise, lots of text, synthesise, summarise, too condensed

White Hat -
Question: is the Infographic for lecturers or students? How conscious would the students be with the process? How would it be used as a learning tool?  For students eg does it matter if the student is aware of Bloom, constructivism of info processing model? Info – very dense, overall too wide, too much text, didn’t follow through Sherlock idea in info graphic context.

Blue Hat -
what is the overall idea? This is like a review of the course, does this work in Pinterst? Is it informative as it stands?


In the presentations yesterday, the tutors recognize that all four groups have worked conscientiously and diligently behind the scenes in preparation for their infographic. In the space of five weeks, all groups have produced graphic visual representations of a blend of information, data and knowledge on the topics of creativity or aspects of critical thinking, and we were suitably impressed by the quality attained so far. As the peer feedback in class yesterday was specific to each group, we have formed our comments here in a general way to be applicable to all four groups. Remember also to have a look at the assessment criteria for the infographic (on the homepage of wikispaces), as a check before submission.

Positive Points
  • All four infographics have the potential to improve understanding of the chosen displayed topics; in the interim between now and the submission date, it would add depth to the work if you were to conduct a small piece of ‘primary research’ to inform their infographic i.e. get some feedback from your target user group, and use this need to shape the direction of the concrete concept that has to be explained visually in the infographic.
  • Drawing upon personal experiences and reflections can be useful in identifying key themes and ideas that will be of benefit to a potential audience. The practical applications that were included in some of your Infographics, will help to increase engagement with intended users.
  • We are looking for a demonstration of a high level of both production values and scholarship in the infographic; effective use of visual content works not only is appealing to the eye but importantly it can work well to pull the infographic themes together. However, given the space limitations, you should still think about the added value in using a particular graphic – rather than making the product more aesthetically pleasing (watch copyright issues too!). We will be looking for the content to be effectively structured and presented under your themes, so that this will communicate a clear overall message on your topic. 
  • The creative and artistic talents of individuals in all groups have been well utilised to make each infographic a unique offering. For those that chose to include it, the cyclical nature of the creative process depicted in the infographic can work well to demonstrate the breakdown of the topic and the relationship between the various elements of creativity, and communicates a clear accessible message to a potential audience. Remember, the graphic is likely be viewed as a standalone piece – without the benefit of your background thinking and narrative. As was suggested yesterday, perhaps have a preview session with an intended user group, to gather their initial comments and how they interpret your ideas.
  • In those groups that chose to use it, humour was integrated well to the message to communicate key points/messages effectively for the intended audience.
  • We liked that the infographics can open up our notions on what creativity and critical thinking are and that all groups used their individual interests and talents to organically grow their infographic.

Developmental Points
  • As the purpose of the infographic is to present complex information quickly and clearly to a particular audience, each group should revisit their work and bear this in mind when producing the final version. Remember the need to introduce ‘theme’ graphics to the infographic to pull together or conceptualise the underlying visual representation of the data; this is important to have rather than have an over-abundance of images and text. This will help demonstrate evidence of higher order thinking and engagement with the topic. It is particularly important that the content captured in the Infographic is grounded in theory. Identify key literature for inclusion and provide a rationale behind your selections along with any additional reading in the group wiki space. 
  • Also, all groups should revisit one of the most important aspects of their infographic - that they contain some sort of valuable insight from the group into the data that they are presenting (this is what will make your work unique to your group), perhaps combining a diversity of approaches reflective of the blend of individuals that make up your group. 
  • Remember the three basic provisions of communication with your chosen audience that need to be considered when finalising your infographic – visual appeal, comprehension, and retention. 
  • There is a need to cut down on text in some infographics (you know this yourselves) and ensure that only the main message or theme is presented, and that the infographic still works well as a standalone without the benefit of your accompanying narrative. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Gosh, well this is it, final class, what a journey, what an excellent module, and a great team of people to work with in Team FiveStar. Roisin and Jen, are excellent lecturers, and the quality of guest lecturers we had was superb, I've learned a lot about working in groups, and loads about creativity and critical thinking, well worth the weekly trip to Upper Mount Street.

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