Saturday, March 27, 2004

Creativity, education design and evaluating process

I must convey my recent collection of experiences on work I've done with a bachelor of nursing unit for post registration nurses (across the globe).

Since beginning my education design career, I have felt bombarded by the magnitude and scope of the myriad tasks which constitute my workload. I seem constantly to get stuck inside the mundane, administrative activities, and have forgone reflecting on the more creative elements of my work - of which, I must say, are quite substantial. I ask you to broaden your definition of 'creativity' to encapsulate the elements of personal development to be learning experiences (most are aren't they?!)...

I find the problem solving aspects of my work offer a creative challenge - this, to me, is the essence of education design. The learning is immense - and intense! I have, in the last fortnight or so, reflected more closely on the actions and conversations of and with my colleagues in light of this word 'creativity' and my problem-solving thesis has been proven many times! You can almost feel the cogs turning, well-oiled, with full service history!

Having turned my focus more to these creative moments, I have felt new life being breathed into my work. That is not to say I've dropped all administrative and other mundane tasks (oh to dream!), but I have realigned my thinking to centre more on the processes of creative thought instead. Now, many would say "I told you so!" - but as with all experiences, you must feel it yourself, rather than rely on others to be your 'wise eyes'. Although, I do recall a saying that goes something like this:
    A fool learns from his mistakes; a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.

Perhaps not a very practical idea, but it sounds promising!

I have digressed...back to creativity...
Another 'creative catharsis' arose from presenting the findings of an evaluation conducted on the same unit mentioned above, which ultimately informed the development I worked on. Reflecting on the evaluation has me reflecting again on the creative experience and the time spent building a rapport with the academic coordinating the unit. This relationship combines a fluid arrangement of creative input and negotiating the academic terrain, which often involves critiquing the content presented within the unit itself. Content poses many challenges and education design often asks the academic particularly to release this content from the 'sanctuary' within which it resides. This means building avenues of trust and allowing time for this 'release' (usually more than one development phase, often at least two) to manifest.

Education designers have become quite adept at not only supporting this release, but empathising with the academic position. The content, in its released form, becomes 'public property', 'naked' for all to see - transparent.

Sharing content in this way is perhaps challenges the legitimacy of the academic's own position. So too, education designers are challenged - often their position is in danger of being construed as lacking academic discipline. However, education designers usually display a wide ranging scope of interests and skills, which stand them in good stead for the work they must do.

My partnership with the academic of the nursing unit has brought this very interesting relationship struggle to the fore, not for her acknowledgement of a lack of my position, but has shown herself to build her own picture of me as an education designer. This has developed through the negotiation of tasks and of initiating and supporting various aspects of the development process, as each stage has presented itself. to me it is reminiscent of constructivist learnign theory, that we all bring prior knowledge and experience to a new learning encounter; where we then restructure our knowledge framework to distill and appropriate this new learning with our existing knowledge. Constructivist learning approaches seem to most naturally fit the education design paradigm.

I am most grateful for this experience with this academic and to be privy to such a relationship early on in my career is a big plus - I feel my ideals have not been sullied to the point of anonymity!

Long live education design!