The right-brained student is the apple of everyone’s eye – while schooling rewards creativity, online schooling, and the pressure thereof on educators, has led to a decline of creativity mechanisms in the online school classroom.
The lack of creativity is not a design element of the online school education or online school system, but is a consequence of lack of planning, or the ignorance of how to incorporate creativity in the online school system, something also evident across most of the country’s physical classrooms.
Even when the course is akin to dry-bone legalese, or is heavy on science of the course, educators, teachers, and stakeholders can take steps to make the virtual school or virtual classroom courses full of creativity.
The end-result is an engaged coterie of students, better learning outcomes, and greater educator satisfaction. While the steps to making the online schooling or virtual schooling classroom may be crystallised into a scientific framework, the design, implementation, and review of the same is a task to be taken seriously by the educator.
Below are a few ways of making the online classroom as creative as possible:
Storytelling – make every concept a story to remember
Engaging, and building up the narrative are key tenets of any teaching pedagogy. Be it math, or any liberal science, the ability to grasp a student’s attention is imperative, more so in the online schooling environment.
Want to teach gravity, talk about how it prompted Newton to think. Want to speak of the freedom struggle, pick-up an actual incident to explain the part of history.
Introduce the story at the right juncture and conclude with the desired solution. If hooked to a story, your students will stay engaged, and absorb what you teach, alongside compelling them to think about the topic rather than merely listen in.
Design discussions and create opportunities for cross-questioning
Having open ended questions built in your classroom narrative will prompt students to participate and interact over the online medium. Think of questions which are broad-based yet pertinent to the topic at hand and will elicit at-least a generic response from a majority of the classroom.
One discussion will lead to another, and the class participants will be compelled to think, opine, and discuss. When done repeatedly, the ability to put forth a point, agree, disagree, and yet stick to the course while absorbing classroom content will become a student’s skill to think outside the box and open their brains to think for ideas.
Ask questions such as:
- What if India lost the war of independence?
- What is the greatest invention of the 20th century?
- How will this problem in math help you solve day to day chores at home?
- What do you think physicists should focus on for future research?
You will note that all the above questions require lateral thinking but are yet easy to answer.
At the same time, retention & absorption of information and creative and contextual understanding of subjects can be enhanced via reflective activities. Using posters, visualisations of discussions or concepts can help one reflect better on how the discussion led to the concept, leading to better outcomes.
Look for practical emotional cues, and leverage them for problem-solving projects
A local water supply disruption in your school’s region, OR a national calamity impacting people, OR the climate change issue – local, national, and international issues that students connect and respond to daily.
Moreover, these are issues that can be solved from different angles. The educator / teacher in an online school can ensure that he / she shows videos, speeches, and solutions, and design a special concept course the asks the students to come up with ideas for solutions to above issues.
- What can we do locally, nationally, and internationally, to solve the climate change issue? – the science course can investigate this
- How can we activate donations, aid, and help to those impacted with the calamity? How do we create robust mechanisms to be better prepared for such disasters? – the Civics / Social Science course can investigate this
- How can we conserve water? A chemistry course may look at how to use better quality materials for pipes and reduce pipe bursts / leakages
Hence, any emotional connections provided during the course are bound to trigger varied, yet logical responses.
Use visualisations and be task / project oriented
Breaking things into parts, reducing texts, and imaging concepts have proven to be better drivers of learning outcomes. Moreover, making these concepts as part of student tasks will encourage them to think beyond the textbook method, and bring out innovative ways to understand and reflect on the problem.
Ask students to use infographics, and design visual elements to explain their point of view, and have them prepare presentations, videos, and graphics to share concepts with their peers.
Moreover, the unit of instruction should be accompanied with a clear outline of what the students are required to do. For example, if the course is on sciences, ask the students to differentiate between Physical Sciences, and Applied Sciences, and ask them to gamify the approach – showcase daily life examples utilising these two sciences, and how they differ in fundamentals.
Design assessments which test and reward creativity
Even before the advent of online schooling, the method of testing across schools was transitioning towards multiple choice questions, with a decline of reasoning as a testing criterion.
Schools realised the need for fast assessment, under the garb of accommodating more students and making assessments automated to save teacher time. In the process, students became hyper focussed on the outcome, while a narrative build-up ability was lost, and creative application and development of thoughts became seldom. Moreover, the rote method of learning further added to the de-merit of any remaining long form testing procedure.
However, to ensure the right-side of your student’s brain stays on the edge and is utilised, ensure your tests over the online school examination or virtual schooling mode are designed to include elements such as:
- Blog posting or podcasting
- Coming up with multiple answers to the same question
- Preparing for and against responses for a debate impacting them, local population, or the nation
Hence, there may be a variety of ways of fostering creativity, but methodically and scientifically planned interventions can make daily subtle changes that will go a long way in unlocking the student’s creative potential.