Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CPD: Creativity and Critical Thinking in Higher Education - Week 2

Week 2 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 enjoying this module.


We started with Roisin and Jen asking each group giving a verbal presentation of their ideas from the Ideas Exchange activity concerning tools to support creativity or critical thinking:

  • Team JEEVI discussed their idea of looking at uses of 3D printing throughout all of the courses in the DIT, and having a competition for looking at the most innovative use of 3D printing, and the winner would get a 3D printing.
  • Team Digital Immigrants proposed an activity based on "pin the tail on the donkey" where various activities are stuck on the wall as post-it notes, and that students tackle them and display their solutions on the wall.
  • Team TELOS proposed the use of Google Hangouts to including other participants in the classroom including industry experts.
  • Team FiveStar (my team) looked at the use of the LiveScribe smart pen, full details below.
Team Five Star: PEN PALS 2.0

The digital pen, LiveScribe, allows students to write messages, record those messages, upload them to a computer, and annotate them with audio recordings. This type of technology opens a multitude of potential collaborative, and social constructivistic, opportunities, as Livescribe allows you to “pencast” all of the data recorded from one LiveScribe pen to a computer and to broadcast it to a fellow LiveScribe user.

One potential approach that the LiveScribe presents is to allow students from different countries to exchange both written and audio samples of their native language, as well as exchange information about their culture and heritage. This provides the potential for nuanced peer learning experiences, and as the technology allows students to exchange diagrams, doodles, and sketches as well as text, this could lead to a more personalised and authentic set of learning experiences; and provide opportunities for highly creative shenanigans.

RefectionWe won the gold star, yippee. Truly a group effort, Paul proposed the use of a pen, which led Jacinta to suggest smart pens. María-José suggested having international students communicating, so I put all the ideas together, made sure everyone was happy with the direction we were going in, and wrote the above concept.


Claire McAvinia gave a riveting and highly interactive talk on critical thinking. She started off by getting everyone to introduce themselves, and she said she would try to to remember everyone's name.

Reflection: A really lovely way to start the session, really classy.

Following this Claire got us in our groups to consider someone someone we think is a critical thinker and reflect on; why we think they are critical thinkers, what skills they have, and how they use to communicate their critical thinking skills. After a minute she suggested that if people couldn't think of someone they see as critical, could they think of someone who is an anti-role model, someone who we think is not critical.

Reflection: A brilliant idea, the anti-role model, Michael J. Gelb suggests something similar in "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci".

Reflection: I chose Noam Chomsky as my example of a critical thinker.

We explored some of the characteristics of critical thinkers:
  • asks questions
  • looks at outliers
  • makes links
  • takes different perspectives
  • has acuity
  • has flexibility
  • attacks the argument, not the person
  • has humility
  • has a sense of humour
  • has curosity
  • has a lot of knowledge
  • can be dispassionate
  • has training
  • encourages others

Reflection: This was an excellent interactive element of the session, using the flipchart.

We also looked at a video to explore critical thinking:

The issues the video brought up were:
  • Need for evidence
  • Trusted sources
  • Currency/newness of facts
  • Medium/source
  • Percpetion
  • Emotional impact
Reflection: This reminded me of both the Boilerplate hoax and the DHMO website.


The next task was to create a 3-minute advertisement for critical thinking. We started off with a clear idea that we wanted to do a Krapp's Last Tape style play, with the main character, Mary, facing the audience sitting at a desk, answering some phone calls. We modified the idea and a little, and in filming we moved from having the callers appearing on-screen, to having them just being heard off-screen. Some dialogue was also changed, and the group asked me to perform Mary's final monologue to camera, making the final advertisement more Brechtian than Beckettian.

  • Team JEEVI showed two YouTube videos, first was greyhounds chasing a rabbit, the second was a cat catching a bird. Their point being that the cat showed patience and critical thinking whereas the dogs don't. They suggested critical thinking is in our nature, and if we trust our instincts we will be alright.
  • Team TELOS gave a powerpoint presentation contrasting the idea of teaching critical thinking by rote with allowing people to develop their critical thinking more naturally.
  • Team Digital Immigrants created an excellent video in the style of Vincent Browne, debating whether or not critical thinking should be, and could be, taught.
The agreed marking criteria was:
  • Originality
  • Persuasiveness
  • Clarity 

Reflection: The advertisement was a truly collaborative experience, with many changes made in rehearsals and in the filming process.

  • Gelb, Michael J., 2000, " How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day", Dell
  • Guinan, P., Bennett, A., 2009, "Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel", Harry N. Abrams.

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