Reflection: How the Creative Revolution Network led me to starting my own

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Because when enough people move, that is a movement. And if the movement has enough energy, that is a revolution. And in education, that’s exactly what we need.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the term ‘creative revolution’ and what this means. During my PhD studies, I recently came across a fitting description by the poet Vyacheslav Ivanov who stated a creative act was ‘a passionate creation of daring thought soaring on high, of a burning will and rash willfulness’. The Creative Revolution Network has been nothing short of just that; I have been fortunate enough to speak to and observe the thoughts of many creative, wonderful individuals on here in all subjects of interest including imposter syndrome, Artifical Intelligence and ways to transform the current state of education. Recently, there has been a big discussion within the Network on how technology will impact one’s ability to be creative and how it may influence education, which brings me to this article I write today.

Technology is something that has always fascinated me; I grew up with it from a young age and have seen its rapid development and innovation from the first home computer I laid my eyes upon, my years working in education where the digital world went from its first global steps into a daily necessity, to now with the exciting opportunities the world of AI and virtual reality presents us. Whether you find technology today wonderful, scary, or a bit of both, it can be agreed that it continues to have many ways to unlock our creative potential through collaborative platforms (like this!), unlimited accessibility of ideas and resources that provide inspiration, and the ability to encounter new ways to promote positive social action that can elevate a society, culture, or community in many different forms. Sir Ken Robinson and Kate Robinson (2021:9) recently attested to the potential of creativity, with technology interweaving with our physical lives. The use of technology is rapidly increasing, with the number of global users of internet and smartphones recently been calculated as 63-67% of the human population (Kemp, 2022). Despite this though, encountering such ways to have a ‘creative revolution’ is dependent on if the opportunity is available in the first place or finding one yourself.

I have been at my university for several years now and there has been an increasing call from students and teachers to have the opportunity to develop their technological skills to showcase their creativity in ventures not just relating to their study or work. However, there was none to be found – that is, except for a small technology scheme known as the “Technology Enhanced Learning Champion Scheme” that had run out of traction, inspiration, and retention that was close to being closed down. The teachers behind the programme had little time to dedicate to it, and the ‘mind’ behind its inception had left.

So, in a moment of creative inspiration I realised I could create my own creative network after being inspired by this one. I set up a short meeting with the previous director of the TEL Champion Scheme and showed my experience in teaching and knowledge of technology, and demonstrated how we could maximise the creativity and potential of students. Flexible teaching sessions with students exploring different areas of technology relevant to today’s society, such as the development of ChatGPT and other AI, an understanding on using videos for social action, and experimenting with multi-sensory software. Workshops for students to be introduced to new digital tools and platforms that they can interact with in whatever manner they wish at times best for them. Giving them the opportunity to showcase their exploration through a digital portfolio they can structure in whatever manner they wish for either academic, entrepreneurial or personal pursuits. No pass or fail mark or grade to focus on. No exam to complete. And a dynamic relationship of me as a ‘creative colleague’ rather than a teacher. “We need to give them the knowledge to reflect, the confidence to enquire, and technology to create in whatever way they want” I stated at the end of my pitch. The meeting ended up being nearly 2 hours long.

After several more meetings, I was given the independent task of setting up an online platform and curriculum design framework for this to become tangible and real. After a very long week dedicating many hours to it, it was ready and we have currently launched a pilot year of the TEL Champion Scheme before a wider launch in September 2023.

In a short space of time, we gained 12 students from a variety of courses, backgrounds and interests. Many expressed their surprise at how ‘free’ the programme was, and the many ways in which they could pursue technology. We have so many motivated, creative students. One mature student is exploring how to use technology to promote her experience in teaching history to make it more interactive and engaging for the public, another is doing a project entirely on how technology can help her discover her identity, and a third on starting a business using technology in children’s yoga. We have also had even more expressions of interests from other students to join ranging from those fresh out of school to those a few years off from retirement. Interest is already widening to the point where a member of staff who supports students with starting a business or organisation is helping me to start a spin-out organisation with the University’s backing so students and the public can benefit from this new model of teaching. There is still so much to do; our funding is extremely limited. The hours are long, much of the onus is on me. And I know we can promote creativity through technology education even more effectively. But I’ve started a creative revolution at my university which will continue to grow and get better.

This Creative Revolution Network has inspired me to start my own revolution network in education. I can’t wait to grow this fantastic community, my own, and any others that you the reader may start that I can support.

References:

Robinson, K., & Robinson, K. (2022) Imagine If . . .: Creating a Future for Us All. London: Penguin Books.

Kemp, S. (2022) Digital 2022: July Global Statshot Report. DataReportal. Available at: https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2022-july-global-statshot

Jenny Crowdy is a 1st year PhD student at the University of Winchester. Her research is on “Rethinking the concept of creativity in technology education through philosophies of the encounter.” She is also a Senior Technology Co-Developer of the ‘TEL Champion Scheme’; an ambitious extra-curricular programme that promotes student’s digital presence, identity and graduate futures. If you are interested in talking about these areas more, contact Jenny at any point.

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