Supercharge your PLN: Part Three

There is a lot of discussion these days about creativity. How it is one of the most important qualities needed in a rapidly changing world. How we need to revolutionise education so instead of crushing creativity, it is nurtured. There are debates as to whether creativity can be taught and if so, how?. Sir Ken Robinson‘s groundbreaking Ted Talk asking ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?‘ has been viewed a staggering 14 million times. Yet do we, as teachers, model creativity? Do we embed it into our own learning and practice? Do we even consider ourselves to be creative?

I never thought I was creative until I discovered technology. Growing up, I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t sing or dance, I had no aptitude for craft. I didn’t have that creative ‘flair’ some of my friends had. I enjoyed writing, but I didn’t consider this to be creative. I was just good with words. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to make, to invent, to design; but I couldn’t find an outlet where what I created matched the image in my head.

When I discovered technology, I realised that I was creative, and that digital tools allowed me to design and create in ways I never managed previously. I have also revised my rather narrow definition of creativity, realising that while the Arts may be one way to express creativity, there are countless others (including writing!) Today, I consider myself to be a very creative person – even though I remain extremely limited artistically, and continue to have a dance style similar to Elaine from Seinfield.

How does this relate to supercharging your PLN? Easy.

Having a PLN that truly leads to transformational learning happens when we are creative, and when we contribute this creativity to the network. Being creative entails sharing our own, original ideas, without being afraid of critique. Sure, when we put ourselves out there, we do make ourselves vulnerable – but without taking this leap of faith, our PLN will remain static – and it may even wither. After all, if you don’t contribute, why should anyone else? Here, I refer once more to one of my favourite videos about having the confidence to share:

If you are feeling like pushing yourselve, why not go further than just sharing  ideas and thoughts? Being creative can also mean exploring different ways of expressing ourselves. As well as writing (tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts) we have  many multimedia tools at our disposal. Try a drag and drop image or infographic creator, like Canva or Piktochart. Take photos and annotate them. Create a video. Record yourself talking about your learning (podcasting is enjoying a renaissance!) Draw together many wonderful resources in a curated collection. Remix, repurpose, rework. Sketch something by hand, and share a photo of it. Build a digital mindmap. Make an interactive image. Sharing our learning and our expertise in multiple modes challenges our thinking, enriches our interactions and helps to develop an array of digital and traditional literacies.

When we approach our PLN with creativity, and regularly contribute to our connections, we not only experience richer learning, we open ourselves to new discoveries about ourselves and others. I find that designing infographics really forces me to get to the core of the message I am trying to communicate (I can be a bit wordy in text!). Finding just the right image to use as metaphor can lead me to think about concepts in a different way, and often challenges me to think more divergently about keywords and search terms. Filming short videos (which I have done recently for the mini lectures on PLNs and connections) requires a completely different communication style to writing (which I am much more comfortable with!).

Creating and contributing will supercharge your PLN as you connect and engage in different ways with different people. And if you have never thought of yourself as creative, you will surprise yourself!

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