I was recently invited to participate in a Creativity and Technology panel at Austin Community College – I said yes, pleased to have the opportunity to share how I see the intersection between tools (technology) and expression/agency (creativity). It was a pleasure to sit with four other professionals and hear their perspectives on the role of technology in their various fields: photography, education, and large-scale sculpture.
I see technology as a means for students to gain agency and artistry—if educators provide opportunities for learners to reflect, consider, and connect their experiences and ideas, we’re all richer for the exploration, and available technology is one means for this exploration.
Technology, for me, is simply another means to forge insights and deepen self-confidence. However, it’s all too easy to feel dogged by all those apps, programs, information, etc., that can flood our daily lives. It’s important to understand that the strategic, intentional use of certain technology can create meaning—otherwise, keeping up with the Jetsons can become just another way to disconnect and fall out of touch with the self and with others. For me, I choose one or two new forms of technology to play with, as a writer and as an educator, and this allows me to feel empowered and in charge, rather than being swept away into the stream of options. For example, this past year, I taught myself iMovie and set up an Instagram account; the year before that, I learned Prezi. iMovie and Prezi are primarily teaching tools, while Instagram allows me to play more with visual images, which feeds my writer’s eye for analogy.
I also talk to students to see what they are using and how—often these discussions lead into bigger issues of time management and disciple, and together, as working artists/writers, we discuss strategies for finding balance and meaningful expression.
At the Digital Media Learning conference I attended in Boston last spring, one session focused solely on the role of technology, creativity, and engaged learning. A panelist put in this way, “Our job in the classroom is to make our students feel confident. And in this job, I always use these three frames: I can, I create, I connect.”
Paper and pen and crayon allowed us to connect and express when we were little. We’ve just received some new toys to explore the same desire: to share our inner selves with power and clarity, to create meaning and connection, to see what is possible.