4 Tips to Becoming a Digital Creativity Expert

When kids and adults collaborate, great things happen!

July 18, 2016
Tom Mussoline
Technology coordinator
University School of Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI
CATEGORIES Professional Development, Technology Integration

Summer break is a great time to explore a new skill or catch up on some reading. For me, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess has kept me engrossed and inspired me to try some new things with my class this coming school year. However, since reading this book, there's one line I keep coming back to: "It's easy for you. You're creative." These words truly sparked something within me, as I have heard similar words spoken to me but with one word changed: "It's easy for you. You're a techie."

But the fact that you're a techie doesn't mean teaching with tech is easy. Here are a few ideas for how to cultivate the digital creativity expert in you!

Experts are constantly learning.

Though sometimes it may seem things come easily to the "techies," the reality is that a great deal of time goes into exploring and tinkering with those new apps before integrating them into our classrooms. Using technology creatively doesn't just happen like a strike of lightning; finding new ways to incorporate technology is a passion and takes work. A few ways to find the creative tech zone include joining professional development workshops, reading a variety of blogs, or just collaborating with colleagues.

Experts ask for help.

There's one resource we often overlook: kids. Is your kid (your niece, nephew, friend's kid, or even student) engrossed with technology? Why not sit down with him or her and have a chat? Maybe you'll discover some common ground and learn something new! Try doing a project together that encompasses what you love and what they love -- it not only strengthens your relationship but also provides a wonderful opportunity for both parties to learn something new. Don’t be afraid to switch roles and learn from each other.

Experts make it happen.

I think back to a snow day a few years ago, and after hearing, "Can I please play on your iPad?" for the 43rd time, I decided that we, as a family, should sit down and do a project together. The project was a compilation of our snowy day events. We devised a plan. Since it was snowing, one part of the day would be to play in the snow. Another would be to bake something together. And the most integral part, according to my kids, was that they would have some iPad time. Little did they know that the time they would have on the iPad would be creating a digital story of the adventures of our snow day.

The end piece of this project was a digital book using the Book Creator app. Along the way we learned some interesting facts about each other and also discovered some new talents we didn't know we had, like building with Legos and not following any directions for a specific Lego creation. In turn, we all had some passions that we knew a great deal about and learned from each other along the way.

Experts know they don't know everything.

No one person is going to be the sole expert on a specific topic or product. There's always room to learn. The line, "It's easy for you. You're creative (or a techie)," shouldn't be used in the education field. It's our job as teachers and as parents to be creative. We need to embrace what our children or students love. Let's take a moment and learn that new iOS baseball game or Pokémon Go, and turn it into a learning/creative experience for everyone. Technology is what you make of it. Let's find ways to engage, work cooperatively and creatively, and have fun as we blend traditional and digital learning!