Creativity in teacher education: a discussion with DoCENT partners

1. What is creativity in education? 

Dr. Frédérique Frossard and Prof. Mario Barajas, University of Barcelona:

We adopt the definition of educational creativity proposed by Cremin, Clack and Craft (2012): "A purposive imaginative activity generating outcomes that are original and valuable in relation to the learner”. In DoCENT, such activities are mediated by digital technologies. In this view, creativity involves three main characteristics: (a) a democratic approach to which all students have a creative potential which can be fostered or hindered, depending on the teaching strategies used; (b) a focus on personal creativity, which encourages them to develop meaningful insights and discoveries, as well as to attain their full potential in their everyday domains; and (c) a domain-wide approach, to which creativity can be developed in all curricular subjects, such as languages and science.

Dimitris Diamantidis and Dr. Chronis Kynigos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens:

In our point of view, it is about giving students the opportunity to think, test and express novel, original and appropriate solutions to realistic problems or situations that they are interested in. Creativity in education is closely related to the concept of design. The products of learners who are engaged in creativity education could be solutions, or artefacts. The role of educators is to design the appropriate learning ecology in order to this culture to emerge in a classroom or in another learning environment. The creativity in education's effect on learners could be apparent not only in their product (the suggested solution, the artefact that was created, etc.), but during the process of the design as well.


2. What does the creative education MOOC offers and to whom would you suggest using it?

Dr. Rafaelle Di Fuccio, Smarted srl:

DoCENT Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offers an interesting learning approach to teachers and students in education. The MOOC will help to improve the lack of training at the higher education level. The content of the MOOC is based on a competency framework built with the pedagogical expertise of the university partners.DoCENT’s MOOC benefits from two different approaches in terms of teaching the creativity in education. On the one hand, from the formal and scientificapproach of the academic partners, on the other hand, from the practical and technological approach of the two EducationalTechnologies start-ups, that are also partners in the project.


3. Could you tell us a little bit more about the Serious Game that you have built?

Dr. Rafaelle Di Fuccio, Smarted srl:

The DoCENT Serious game represents the laboratory phase of the MOOC that is being developed with the support of all the Consortium and the participation of selected teachers who tested the platform during co-creation sessions. The co-design of scenarios was strategic, in order to achieve a realistic output, combining the methodological definition with the teachers’ beliefs. The SG includes three different scenarios: robotic-creative thinking, tangible user interfaces, problem-solving and serious game-collaborative creative learning. After the co-creation with teachers we decided to move from the 3D characters to Playmobil® characters, that are suitable for a game performed in schools. Another important aspect was the strong connection with the competency framework. All the results achieved by the teacher (as learner) and the feedback related to his/her interaction with the game are connected to the framework. 


4. What would you highlight about this specific game? What makes it innovative and special?

Dr. Luigia Simona Sica and Dr. Michela Ponticorvo, University of Naples Federico II:

The DoCENT Serious Game is the output of the project in the form of a role-play game. Role-play encourages new ways of thinking and interacting with things and people of our personal environment.

The game, indeed, proposes an interaction that aims to provide a realistic experience of the organisation and management of a real classroom related to digital creative competences. Teacher educators are able to learn how to manage classroom and interact with students following creative pedagogies, i.e. promoting learner-centred methodologies, allowing for self-learning, helping to make connections, boosting exploration and discovery, providing a safe environment that encourages risk-taking behaviours, encouraging collaboration. Users can autonomously execute every activity, so that they can experience role-play simulation without the need of a human tutor, and immersivity within the game is achieved by a realistic setting. Users are able to learn in a safe environment, anticipating and preventing problems that may appear in the classroom. The virtual tutor allows for observing and analysing the process. At the end of each session, the software provides a recording of users' interaction with the class and reporting comments on the session.


5. To achieve the project’s objectives, you have worked with EdTech startups — what was their role? 

Dr. Frédérique Frossard and Prof. Mario Barajas, University of Barcelona:

In DoCENT, we aim to intertwine Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers and EdTech research centres and companies in a community of practice. In Spain, the University of Barcelona collaborated with the CreaTIC, a company providing innovative education contents and resources in the field of creative computational thinking. They participated in DoCENT workshops to bring their expertise in terms of educational innovation, and a new approach to teacher education.

Dr. Luigia Simona Sica and Dr. Michela Ponticorvo, University of Naples Federico II:

EdTech start-ups have a key role within the Docent project. In fact, they represent the operational interface between the academic partners of the project and the recipients of the activities (teacher educators). The spirit of Docent is completely "collaborative" and based on a “co-creation” approach. The role of the Educational Technologies start-ups is to provide an approach that comes from the company field. In particular they support the implementation of the project under the technical profile. In Italy, UNINA collaborates with Smarted’s, which role is to bring the expertise in gamification and game-based learning. Smarted is the leader of the development of the DoCENT Serious Game and has an important technical role in the MOOC’s harmonisation.


6. As a start-up, what was your motivation to support an Erasmus + project?

Dr. Anna Trifonova, CreaTIC SL

We are a young company dedicated to technology-based educational activities during the out-of-school time. We are strongly convinced that stimulating students' creativity is of high importance. DoCENT is the first EU project in which CreaTIC participates and we are very happy to be part of this project. Through DoCENT, we are able to share our experience and knowledge in the field of educational robotics and computational thinking with a large audience. As a small company, we generally have small-scale local impact (due to the nature of our activities), but we now feel that a much larger impact could be reached through the approach adopted by DoCENT and the training activities the consortium has designed and is implementing. Our participation in an Erasmus+ project also significantly enriched our company. It is very stimulating to collaborate with research institutions and companies/start-ups in other countries. We strongly believe that cooperation between different sectors is important for stimulating innovation in Europe and that young people (our current students) are the leading force for it in the very near future. 

Dr. Rafaelle Di Fuccio, Smarted srl:

We already have a good experience with Erasmus+ projects, participating in three Erasmus+ projects (ALEAS, DoCENT and ACCORD) where we contributed with a game-design and implementation. For Smarted, the Erasmus+ projects are a way of interaction with the universities and the European Institutions. In the funded projects, a start-up has resources and time to dedicate to the R&D of new solutions co-created with the users/customers and with the academic staff.


7. What could EU and national authorities do to enhance creativity in education? 

Dimitris Diamantidis and Dr. Chronis Kynigos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens:

Taking into account that the educational system in general is characterised by a little latency in creativity, authorities could start by sowing the seeds on a small scale at first. In the way we envision this, they could try to implement twists of the curriculum with periods in the school year, where teachers could propose their own plans for the content and the context. To design these plans, they should work in groups and in collaboration with the university educational departments that specialise in this domain. Their plans should be self-assessed by the teachers, and after a short period of reflection and redesign, they should be made public for all teachers to use them, in order to multiply the effect of this.

Dr. Kathy Kikis-Papadakis, FORTH:

In the course of the DoCENT project, the European and the national policies for Greece, Italy and Spain were reviewed, under the scope of deepening understandings on the state-of-affairs in terms of enhancing creativity in education. The work conducted allows to identify three critical issues/factors affecting the process of mediating policy to support the integration of creativity in educational contexts. To name them, the first one is the need for consistent and coherent policy approaches to enhance creativity in education along the education continuumTo solve this issue, a first step could be the establishment of a common framework for ITE/CPD teacher educators’/teacher’s competence development on/for creativity. The second issue consists of the need for policy ownership & capacity building activities targeting policy mediation and practitioners for enhancing creativity in education. The proposed action involves short-term training initiatives and the establishment of professional communities and networks that facilitate knowledge exchange and promote professional dialogue on how to enhance creativity in education.