Creativity In Instructional Design

Creativity In Instructional Design
Summary: In a world that is continuously changing, Instructional Designers are called to be more creative and innovative in their thinking, but little guidance on how to be so is given.

Are We Talking About Creativity Enough?

Creativity is both a sociological and technological drive for society and is highly sought in the labor market as one of the most crucial 21st-century skills (World Economic Forum, 2018; Vogler et al., 2018). International institutions like the Organization and Cooperation for Economic Development (OECD, 2016) highlight the importance of promoting creativity in classrooms as a necessary competence to develop in students to improve educational quality.

Instructional Design (ID) is evolving into a dynamic field focused on designing effective learning experiences using technology (Hokanson, Miller, & Hooper, 2008). ID, as practiced by professionals today, exhibits a high level of variability and complexity (Clinton & Hokanson, 2012). This complexity is reflected in the use of a variety of ID models available to the ID process, especially for novices. However, over the past 25 years, many have described the ID process as a linear process that takes too long to implement and results in repetitive and unengaging learning (Yanchar, 2016; Hokanson & Clinton, 2012; Roytek, 2010; Caropreso & Couch, 1996; Dick, 1995; Rowland, 1995). In fact, according to Hokanson and Clinton (2012), none of the most common ID models used by Instructional Designers (IDers) mentions creativity. ID programs responsible for providing training for novice Instructional Designers can influence the nature and impact of creative design. Yet, creativity has not been formally and systematically integrated into ID models and theories.

In a world that is continuously changing, Instructional Designers are called to be more creative and innovative in their thinking, but little guidance on how to be so is given (Hong et al., 2014; Ashbaugh, 2013). This article aims to consider the perception of creativity and creativity in ID from Dr. Brad Hokanson and Rick West, experts in the ID field.

Creativity In Instructional Design From The Lens Of Experts In The Field

Developing creativity has become a relevant topic in the field of education; it is becoming more accepted that real learning extends beyond the retention of declarative content (Hokanson 2016).

According to Brad Hokanson (personal communication, February 2020), professor of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, research on creativity in education entails a big challenge: How to make learners more creative? And with this question comes, how do you make Instructional Designers more creative in making their learners more creative? For Dr. Hokanson, creativity is: The capability to develop creative ideas and creative ideas are those that are original, appropriate in the context, and novel; they have to be useful.

He considers that Instructional Designers (IDers) are more concerned about the specific process (step by step) of design. They don't look at how to come up with a different process or approach to get different designs, and this way of thinking is what drives them away from having the time and capability for creativity.

According to Rick West (personal communication, February 2020), associate professor in the Instructional Psychology & Technology department at Brigham Young University, ID is not the only discipline that struggles with creativity. Most programs at the university level don't teach their students to be creative or don't include creativity in their programs. So, it's not unique to ID. It's kind of a problem in education in general. As Dr. West said:

Novice IDers use ID models like ADDIE, which help them to do what they are being asked to do. However, that isn't the end of the story, is the beginning. ID students graduate thinking that the process that they learned, like ADDIE or Backward Design, is the end of the story, and they forget to move on; they overlook to progress and move on from that to be creative and innovative in their work. I think that we forget to teach that part.

For Dr. West, creativity is the creation of new and useful ideas. For the ID context, it would be developing a new approach using creativity to design instruction:

It may not be new completely, but new to you, a new approach for your learners that could help them learn better. That would be a creative approach. But we (IDers) don't talk a lot about how to have creativity in our designs.

So, summarizing for some of the experts in the field, creativity needs to be a determinant aspect of Instructional Design. As Dr. West explains:

Creativity is the upper higher level of thinking, and how we design experiences that will teach that to students, needs to be through a creative approach. We need to talk more about creativity.

Several disciplines struggle with the term creativity and how to include it in their program. However, it is suggested that students and faculty can discuss creativity as an essential part of learning. Talking more about including creativity and creative thinking into the classroom and models could bring interdisciplinarity to ID programs; it would encourage new learning approaches like studio-based pedagogy.

Looking Into The Future

ID is a field that is continuously innovating toward new approaches to design effective and engaging learning experiences. It also extends to developing environments and physical spaces for creation. Creativity needs to be addressed and recognized in ID since it is a key 21st-century skill.

Dr. Hokanson points out that if you are not specifically upfront saying you need to make people more creative, teaching them about creativity, people are not going to be more creative.

This resonates with Yanchar's (2016) suggestion that a better emphasis on innovative learning can facilitate Instructional Design practice; also, that some of the skills that an IDer needs to develop are related to creativity training and group creativity. Therefore, it is necessary to open the discussion about creativity in ID, developing creative learning approaches, including creativity in the curriculum, and engage in creativity research.

Integrating creative thinking into the theoretical ID models could raise IDers expectations of creative possibilities. Incorporate in the curriculum design thinking techniques to develop novel products, prototyping, idea generation techniques, among others, could foster creative potential in future IDers.


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