The creative learning e-learning environment developed during the e-CIT project is called Craftopolis.
The chosen pedagogical theory in the e-CIT learning environment is constructive, including elements of experimental (through stories) and problem based learning. In constructivism the information processing is active. The student consciously processes information building on previously learned existing information . The information learned can be used in detecting and solving new learning problems. Cognitive constructing of information affects positively on motivation which is an essential part of acquiring new skills and the ability to apply the information previously learned in practice. In constructivism no objective information exists and each image of reality has the same importance . This aspect enables learning creativity.
The e-CIT learning environment uses an open-ended learning system. In the open-ended system the problem solving process is open, avoiding direct controlled situations: new unexpected elements appear and boundaries can be redefined during the problem solving process. . Because of its unstable and organic nature, it is difficult if not even impossible to teach creativity using a pedagogical theory in which the information is given to students as stable and absolute. The open-ended model enables creativity and experience during the learning process.
Combining information towards creative solutions
In the e-CIT creative learning environment the student learns to use and combine multidisciplinary information in new, meaningful and creative ways to create lucrative, consumer oriented handicraft product concepts. The approach is problem-oriented: in each task the student must find the problem and its solution. The student is obliged to search for knowledge from different sources on the basis of given information.
The learning environment unifies handicraft, creativity, story-telling economy’s points of view, e-learning and other multidisciplinary information, for example consumer information, future trends and history, in finding and refining new product ideas and developing them further into consumer oriented product concept and products. The learning environment encourages students to develop their know-how in creative ways by acquiring ideas for example from (craft) tradition, cultural heritage, history, stories and existing products.
The structure of the learning environment is flexible and versatile. This enables a “tailor-made” use of the learning environment. Therefore use of the e-CIT learning environment is not limited to a certain didactic model, but can be retailed according to the didactic system of the country or area all around Europe. The learning environment is a flexible tool. It can be applied to a period of three years or just one year of studies, for example. The learning environment includes various pieces of information from different fields. The teacher can combine learning modules of this material in the way that is suitable for the class. The learning environment does not focus on certain handicraft areas. This is how it can be used in all fields of handicraft.
The ICT element of the learning environment also enables distance learning (e.g. areas difficult to reach or long distance to the educators). The teacher can choose the best possibility of teaching through the learning environment: totally virtual or partly in class. The teacher has a pool of tasks to select the teaching modules form. This is a time-saving element because instead of creating tasks from the beginning, the teacher can create different modules of existing tasks. At the same time the open nature of the tasks and the growing visual material made by the students (e.g. in the gallery) creates all the time a greater pool of resources.
Stories in learning
Stories live on four different levels in the learning environment:
- As one of the reasons behind the learning environment: the Storytelling Society and conscious consumers
- The learning environment is presented in the form of a story: the learning takes place in a city called Craftopolis
- each task itself is a story taking place in the city, and
- stories are used as sources of inspiration.
The learning environment is a visual environment. During the learning process, the student moves around Craftopolis. All the tasks take place in visual scenes in the city. The visual element decreases the formal element of learning for the students, helping memory retention and opening minds to creativity.
Stories contribute to the memorizing process which in part supports the constructive learning process. Memory has an essential role in learning. Emotions strengthen memorizing processes. Stories are emotionally rich material and create experiences. In addition stories sustain the students’ attention.
The structure of the tasks
The tasks in the learning environment are prepared around nine themes, which aim to respond to the challenges that the fields of handicraft face. The themes are: creativity, culture, entrepreneurship and real life, handicraft, marketing, problem solving, product development, stories and history, and trends.
There are three levels of difficulty for the tasks:
Level 1: Tasks separated by themes, each task focusing on one theme only. Learning basic information and gaining understanding of themes to be later able to use and apply the information learned. Starting to understand problems.
• Tutoring: the highest level, lots of instruction
• Amount of tasks: the most
• Difficulty level of tasks: the easiest
Level 2: Starting to apply the information learned and to unify themes in tasks.
• Tutoring and instructions: medium level
• Amount of tasks: medium level
• Difficulty level of tasks: medium level
Level 3: holistic problem solving using all the information learned and all the themes. The student should be able to detect and solve problems alone.
• Tutoring: little tutoring and instruction
• Amount of tasks: the least, but the most complete tasks
• Difficulty level of tasks: the most difficult
The structure of the levels of tasks can be compared to the description of the process of creativity by Wallace (Guilford 1966): level one can be preparation; level two, incubation and practicing, and level three can be described as illumination, verification and testing of solutions.
The form and logic of the tasks is mostly based on creativity methods. This is how the student will learn creative thinking by doing.
- 1. Rauste, M. & von Wright, J. (1994). Oppiminen ja koulutus. WSOY
- 2. Rickards, T. (1975). Problem solving through creative analysis. Letchworth, Hertfordshire: The garden City Press Limited.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.