Creative Provocations: Speculations on the Future of Creativity, Technology & Learning

Design: Punya Mishra | Photo: Pixabay

Creative Provocations: Speculations on the future of creativity, technology & learning. Edited by: Danah Henriksen & Punya Mishra, Arizona State University. A forthcoming volume in the Springer series: Creativity Theory and Action in Education. Series Editors: Ronald A. Beghetto & Bharath Sriraman.

Here is a link to invitation that went to the authors.
Note: First draft of chapters due January 31, 2021

List of chapters and authors (in no particular order)

Performing Creative ecologies in Networked Educational Worlds
Anne Harris, RMIT University

This chapter explores the ways in which establishing and maintaining creative ecologies requires both ‘online’ and ‘offline’ practices, and takes a new materialist conceptual approach. Braiding digital network (Manovich) and creative ecologies theoretics (Harris, Simonton), this chapter argues that truly sustainable teaching and learning for speculative futures requires whole-environment change in education contexts and practices, as well as mindset shift in restructuring the notion of lifespan education itself and creative labour.

Technological Creativity: Measurement Issues and the Need to Separate Creative Product from Creative Process
Mark A. Runco, Southern Oregon University

Technology now plays a hugely important role in all aspects of science and society. Thus it is not surprising that creative studies, like many social sciences, have turned to technology. There are measures of creativity in the domain of technology, for example, and a shift in AI from the Turing Test (can a computer participate in a conversation with a human without the human knowing it is computer?) to the Lovelace Test (can a computer agent “originate and idea for which it was not programmed”?). This chapter summarizes several lines of research, including the two just mentioned (measuring creativity in technology, and the Lovelace Test). It draws from existing theories of creativity, including the decades-old 4P framework and the fairly new theory of Dynamic Creativity. It argues that the Lovelace Test is meaningful but only if the distinction between creative products and the creative process is recognized. For this reason this chapter summarizes the 4P framework for creativity, of which the creative product and the creative process are a part. It also brings in the fairly new theory of dynamic creativity, and in particular the theory that separates the “primary creativity” of a creator him- or herself from the “secondary creativity” of an audience. This distinction moves the conversation forward because it includes a discussion of products that lack creative intentions but are attributed with creativity by some audience.

Environmental Creativity: Young People, Technology and Climate Change Action
Shakuntala Banaji, London School of Economics

From the start of their life-cycle – for instance in cobalt mines – to the end, as broken and spent mobile phones, ipads, laptops and consoles, technologies are using enormous amounts of power and e-waste causes untold damage to public spaces. Yet, these issues are rarely listed as a priority for rethinking. In cases where companies have been taken to task over this issue, new forms of ‘green-washing’ appear and business continues as usual, with ‘throw-away culture’ remaining the norm in the global north. As our knowledge of the ravages and consequences of climate change grows, some of the only people to take the situation seriously and to think about e-waste and the creative use of technology for sustainable futures are environmental activists and young climate protestors. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with 36 children and young people in the 11-18 age range, this chapter discusses the ways in which the role of technologies in climate change are understood by ordinary young citizens and their parents, their suggested solutions to matters of e-waste and their creative uses of existing technologies in pro-environmental action. Asking radical questions about whether it is possible to balance sustainable life-styles with the current trends in mobile and digital media use, consumption and extraction, the chapter attempts to identify creative solutions in the views, values and practices of the youngest generation in different global contexts.

Technology, Education, and Gender Creativity
Jonathan Plucker, Johns Hopkins University & Jacob McWilliams, University of Colorado

Gender and gender expression are integral to a student’s identity, which has both direct and indirect impacts on their learning experiences. Gender expression can be understood as a form of literacy: A practice of reading and writing gender through the use of the body, visual and aural cues, and—more recently—digitally networked technologies to communicate and understand gender. In this chapter, the authors argue that sociocultural frameworks for understanding creativity and talent can be used to better understand creativity in gender expression.

Embodiments of Euclid in the 21st Century: An Ode to Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Bharath Sriraman, University of Montana

A thought experiment occurring in a Huxylean world in the future is conducted, in which “Euclidean” geometry has been forgotten and can only be retrieved by traversing backward in time, physically and virtually by two protagonists, Alpha and Beta, inspired by the challenge issued by their teacher Aleph 1. In the year 136 A.H (After Huxley, or late 21st century of the Common Era), all instruction occurs virtually. Mathematics is the exclusive purview of 0.01% of society (the alphas). The thought experiment leads to the discovery and realization from the two protagonists that Euclidean geometry is possible using sensorimotor functions with tools called a straight edge and compass or simply a rope with knots. As an ode to Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) this chapter is deliberately in the form of a creative provocation that examines the interaction of technology with the learning of mathematics in a dystopian future. Implications for the immediate future in the learning of mathematics are made, based on the thought experiment.

Conceiving Creativity and Learning in a World of Artificial Intelligence
Edwin Creely, Monash University

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a key component of contemporary thinking about teaching and learning in an increasingly digitised world. It is also being viewed as a means of facilitating creativity and enhancing creative processes and products. This chapter explores the notion of AI and what it might provide in terms of promoting creativity in educational settings with technologies. The chapter critically investigates the ways that AI can support the creativity of both teachers and students, and the possibilities that emerge in AI-human interactions in classrooms. The chapter is grounded in the theoretical perspective of post-humanism and presents provocations around what the human-machine interactions might mean for a re-imagining of creativity in education.

Teaching (for) Experimental Creativity
David Galenson, University of Chicago

Since the early twentieth century, our society has given its greatest acclaim to the sudden and dramatic breakthroughs of young conceptual innovators. This has often come at the expense of undervaluing the less conspicuous but no less important discoveries of older experimental innovators. The internet revolution, and the resulting ubiquity of personal electronic devices, have served to reinforce the disproportionate emphasis on rapid conceptual advances. I believe that our educational system needs to teach both an appreciation of experimental innovation and the skills necessary to practice it. Our students, and our society at large, must be educated to recognizethat many of the greatest accomplishments in all domains have been, and will continue to be, the products not of sudden flashes of genius, but of extended study and research.

Creative Pedagogies with Technology: Future Proofing Teaching Training in Music
Leon de Bruin & Bradley Merrick, The University of Melbourne

In this chapter, the authors will consider the benefits and challenges of enacting creative pedagogical approaches in the tertiary context and examine emerging educational practices with regard to twenty-first century learning and technology. Creativity continues to be a key construct for twenty-first century music education practice and education, incorporating technology that delivers deeper and more profound learning experiences – which paradoxically isolate individual learning yet at the same time provoke reflection, growth and sustainability. This chapter explores the delivery of a tertiary degree in Music Teaching, specifically addressing the following areas: (a) Curriculum design, delivery and assessment; (b) Entrepreneurial approaches to learning through student centred activity; (c) Online learning, student access, self-regulation and self-assessment; (d) Learning environments that mirror global change, capacities and expectations. Through a combination of annotated examples of teaching practice, selected research, and related theoretical reference, this chapter will propose a range of creative, innovative learning solutions.

Embodied Creativity and Technology: A Complex Relationship
Paula Thomson, & S. Victoria Jaque, California State University, Northridge

Cognitive/creative embodiment is a memory system that encodes information about physical competencies, contextual perceptions, and motor responses to internal and external situations. Elite athletes and performers cultivate highly refined embodied awareness that directly influences creative expression. Embodied creativity draws upon sensorimotor, relational, emotional, and aesthetic perceptions and actions. Technology is a powerful tool that is integrated into the training and promotion of these populations. Embodied creativity and embodied cognition are dependent on real-time physical engagement; however, physical engagement continues to rapidly change in response to technological advancements. During the recent COVID 19 pandemic, the interface of technology and elite performance has revealed unique possibilities as well as profound limitations. Embodiment and creativity, in particular, their interaction with technology are complex and dynamic processes. In order to navigate the changes that result from these three interacting components (embodiment, creativity, technology) strong adaptive skills are necessary; these challenges will equally require a strong embodied and creative self that can traverse a complex world.

The Innovation War: Will Creativity Conceptions Affect Technology Innovation and STEM Education Around the World
Weihua Niu, Pace University & Li Cheng, Beijing Normal University

Rooted in different philosophical traditions, creativity is viewed differently in the East and West. Whereas creativity in the West emphasizes individual characteristics of the creators, creativity in the East emphasizes more on the social impact of creative products or the interaction between creators and the environment (Niu, 2013; 2019). This chapter will first examine the similarities and differences in creativity conceptions between the West and East, followed by a discussion on how such differences affect people’s understanding of technological innovations such as intellectual properties, which could lead to technology wars between countries. It will then focus on investigating the differences in STEM education between China and the United States and explore the relationship between creativity, technology, and learning from a cultural psychology perspective.

Creativity, affects and bonding through technological interactions in distributed networks
Tatiana Chemi & Chunfang Zhou, Aalborg University

In this chapter, we focus on the following research question: how does technology interact with creative relationships in distributed and embodied learning processes among teachers? Theoretically, we take a new materialist (Barad, 2007) and post-humanist (Braidotti, 2013) perspective to build up a new framework by bringing original views on the intersection between digital technologies, informal learning and distributed creativity (Gl?veanu, 2014, Sawyer, 2007, Sawyer & DeZutter, 2009). Empirically, we will learn from the authorship of Samuel Beckett (Chemi, 2006) and draw from autoethnographic experiences (Jones, Adams & Ellis, 2016) in educational contexts. Beckett’s authorship is a passionate narrative on how significant others contribute to each other’s intellectual growth and identity-building in complex trajectories, through grief and joy. Based on this, we further investigate the alternative paths that collaborative creativity might take in pandemic times, when the teachers’ bodily presence is precluded, and the role of technology in these creative adjustments to the classroom. We look at Beckett’s dark humour as a creative laboratory of ideas, to which the authors resonate in profound professional ways (Zhou, Chemi, & Lund, 2015). The experience of educators engaging in distributed learning relationships during a world crisis will be our topology. The route we wish to map is led by the educators’ perception of technology interactions in reciprocal communication. So the significance of this chapter is to contribute originally to an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and education in a new digital age.


Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press.
Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. John Wiley & Sons.
Chemi, T. (2006). Samuel Beckett’s Humour. In World Theatre: Samuel Beckett and the Theatre.
Glaveanu, V. P. (2014). Distributed Creativity: Thinking Outside the Box of the Creative Individual. Springer, Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London. ISBN 978-3-319-05433-9.
Jones, S. H., Adams, T. E., & Ellis, C. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of autoethnography. Routledge.
Sawyer, R. K. (2007). Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. New York: Basic Books.
Sawyer, K. R., & DeZutter, S. (2009). Distributed Creativity: How Collective Creations Emerge From Collaboration. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 81–92. American Psychological Association.
Zhou, C., Chemi, T., & Lund, B. (2015). A comparative study of students’ perceptions of humour in learning creative design between China and Denmark. In Dealing with Emotions (pp. 99-119). Brill Sense.

Creativity and Artificial Intelligence: The Integration of Human and Artificial Cognition
David Cropley, University of South Australia

As societies increasingly digitise, many claims continue to be made about the potential of artificial intelligence to take over roles and tasks previously performed by humans. While it may be simple for AI to replace humans in routine, algorithmic tasks, the claims about AI and creativity require more careful examination. This chapter will explore the integration of human and artifical cognition, seeking to understand better the capabilities of AI with respect to creativity, and to develop a clear model of what is likely, and unlikely, to be possible.

Creative Learning Under Uncertainty
Ronald Beghetto, Arizona State University

How might creative learning experiences better prepare young people to navigate the uncertainties of the future? The aim of this chapter is to explore this question. Creative learning refers to structured experiences with uncertainty that results in new and personally meaningful insights for oneself and others. The chapter will introduce a framework of creative learning, which illustrates the intersectionality among creativity, learning, technology, and uncertainty. Implications for how the model can help researchers and educators think through the possibilities and challenges involved in designing learning experiences aimed at developing students’ confidence and capacity to creatively navigate uncertainty will be discussed. Directions for research will also be discussed.

The Futures of the Fine Arts
Aaron Kozbelt, CUNY, Brooklyn College

In this chapter I will examine prospects and possibilities for how human aesthetic creative practices may unfold in our increasingly technological future. I plan to review both exogenous / cultural theories of human artistry and their role in shaping artistic practice and traditions, as well as endogenous / psychobiological sources of constraint on human aesthetics and creativity. My speculations about these complex topics will be informed by themes adapted from evolutionary theory and complex adaptive systems and will be illustrated by examples from the fine arts.

How to Kill Creativity: An Analysis of Approaches Aimed at Promoting Creativity that Can Reduce Creativity
Yong Zhao, University of Kansas

We have seen a dramatic increase in creativity and helping students to become creative in recent years. However, many of the attempts to help students become creative could actually be counterproductive. In this chapter, I will analyze such approaches, which include large scale assessment of creativity, technology-enhanced approaches to develop creativity, and learning activities designed to promote creativity.

A Rubric for Creative Classrooms of the Future
Anthony Brandt, Rice University

Sociologists and industry leaders are anticipating that automation and machine learning will have an increasingly disruptive effect on the jobs of the future, reducing and sometimes even eliminating human labor in everything from factory work to radiology. Repetitive and highly predictable tasks are particularly vulnerable. As a result, experts foresee a shift to creative and service oriented work, where human capabilities still exceed those of machines. Preparing students for the jobs of the future will require a substantial re-prioritizing and remaking of the public school curriculum, which is currently dominated by standardized testing. Can this be done in a rigorous way to the necessary scale? The answer may lie in transposing the metrics used in creativity tests to curricular design. In grading creativity tests such as the Alternative Use Test, four metrics are typically used: fluency (the number of responses), flexibility (their variety), elaboration (the thoroughness with which the responses are developed), and originality (their rarity). Historically, these metrics have largely limited to measuring innate creative ability—for instance, in a gifted and talented test. Yet all of these creativity metrics can be taught. As such, they could form a strong basis for curricular design. For instance, fluency would be promoted by encouraging students to proliferate ideas and work out multiple solutions; flexibility, by exposing students to a variety of stimuli, and encouraging them to pursue cross-disciplinary thinking; elaboration, by building skills; and originality, by encouraging students to draw on their unique experiences, and take risks. As far I know, there are few—if any—examples of these metrics being applied systematically to education. Using these metrics as guideposts for teaching offers several advantages: (a) The terms are straight-forward and easy to define; (b) They have become standardized in the creativity literature.
There are objective ways to measure them. For instance, a student who only comes up with two solutions to a prompt needs to work on their fluency; (c) They are open-ended: they don’t tell teachers how to accomplish the goals, only what the goals are. The chapter will explore the justifications for and ramifications of applying these metrics to curricular design—both as a way of guiding and evaluating students, and also of judging the degree to which courses themselves promote creativity. Exemplars of lesson plans will be included. The article will close for an appeal for educators to rethink our strategies for preparing our students for the world of the future—one in which we will share the labor market with machines.”

Themes & Provocations: A conversation
Vlad Glaveanu, Webster University, Geneva; Barbara Wasson, Ingunn Ness, University of Bergen & Giovanni Corazza University of Bologna

This, final chapter, is, collaboratively written by four authors who engage in a dialogue to build on and extend the themes and provocations in the previous chapters. This discussion is framed within the dialogical tradition of Mikhail Bakhtin who famously said: “Nothing definitive in the world has yet taken place; the last word of the world, about the world, has not yet been spoken; the world is open and free; everything is still to come and will always be still to come” (Bakhtin, 1979, p. 193). Thus, dialogism is both the premise of how we envision the future and the method of thinking / writing, of this book (and this chapter).