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Award-winning creativity
Lisa Pendergast
Dr. Heather McLeod, Faculty of Education

From the design and creation of an award-winning, online graduate course on creativity in the classroom; to delivering a keynote address for professional development on teaching the arts; to contributing a chapter to a book on web-based arts education; creativity is flourishing in a big way in the Faculty of Education.

Dr. Heather McLeod, Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Education, was invited to be the keynote speaker for A Fine Tyme, the professional development institute focused on teaching the arts offered by the NL Department of Education on July 2-4, held at the District Conference Centre and The Rooms.

A Fine Tyme focused on the delivery of Newfoundland and Labrador’s K-12 fine arts curricula via practical sessions relevant to arts pedagogy. The institute accommodated a variety of teacher experience, expertise and practice. Its structure allowed for both shared and individual sessions and explored global themes such as creativity and arts specific content with the use of software. Dr. McLeod’s opening session on creativity evolved from a written speech to a collaborative gathering that involved all attendees.

“I asked ‘what is creativity?’ ‘Can teachers foster it?’ The term creativity is ambiguous, and a review of the relevant literature suggests that no common agreement exists on its meaning. I explored what the concept of creativity involves and how educators can foster creativity in and through the arts,” said Dr. McLeod. “We can take advantage of cultural artifacts, settings, and expertise in Newfoundland and Labrador to explore creativity in relation to educational practice through expression in the arts. This impacts the development of new strategies to grow cultures of creativity concerning expression, pedagogy, curriculum theory and design and educational organizational structures.”

The request to be a keynote speaker for A Fine Tyme was a result of an award-winning course. Dr. McLeod was recognized with the 2013 Award of Excellence and Innovation in the Integration of Technology in the K-12 Classroom, by the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education, as the author of Education 6107 - Arts Education: Creativity in the Classroom. This award recognizes excellence in the design and integration of technology (i.e. video, audio, podcast, graphics or animation) in a K-12 classroom. There was an awards ceremony held at the 2013 Canadian Network for Innovation in Education Conference. Dr. McLeod was unable to attend the conference, but a plaque was presented to her by Dr. Kirk Anderson, Dean of the Faculty of Education, at a faculty meeting.

Education 6107 - Arts Education: Creativity in the Classroom is an online graduate course that focuses on creativity through the arts for the K-12 classroom.

“While many courses designed for the web are primarily text-based and merely replace oral lectures, this course involves aesthetic design and multimodal learning,” said Dr. McLeod. “Online development and delivery of a web-based course can be viewed as a challenge for educators. I worked with Ms. Marlene Brooks, instructional designer formerly of DELTS, and moved from my comfort of the face-to-face course to online delivery. While I was convinced that web-based courses are important for students in small and isolated communities, for example teachers in Labrador, who would not otherwise be able to access relevant educational experiences in the arts, I was somewhat fearful and skeptical about this transition.”

The goal of the class was to focus on cultural artifacts, settings, and expertise in the Newfoundland and Labrador region through online activities and resources that would normally be available in a classroom setting. This was done using an interpreting art tour video, a virtual art expedition of work by regional artists, and instructional videos of art activities appropriate for the K-12 classroom.

“The projects created by the students in ED 6107 are highly individualized and diverse and run the gamut from making iMovies to crafting Labrador moccasins,” said Dr. McLeod. “All explore creativity as a process. Despite the fact that taking time to generate and partially develop multiple options runs counter to mainstream notions of “efficiency”, this divergent phase is important before converging on a single best idea.”

Dr. McLeod and Ms. Brooks are also contributing a chapter entitled “Web-based Arts Education: Creativity in the Classroom” to Creative Practices in Curriculum and Teaching in the 21st Century, a book that is currently being developed. The chapter describes the Arts Education: Creativity in the Classroom course and the process of moving it online.

For anyone interested in Education 6107 - Arts Education: Creativity in the Classroom, the course will be offered again in the spring semester of 2015. Please visit www.mun.ca/educ for more information.

Aug 12th, 2014

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