Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Synthesis: Creative Media Badges 2


"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants". Sir Isaac Newton

I quote this  at students sometimes when discussing the social nature of creativity. If  "standing on the shoulders of giants " is a helpful image to understand design thinking, then synthesis is the bit where you are looking for a foothold...


In the classic Bloom's taxonomy, synthesis is considered a higher order thinking skill - above analysis and below evaluation. If you've read my earlier posts (here and here) you will know I'm not a great fan of the classic hierarchical structure of Bloom's.  Nor were the resources I found on line particularly helpful in a design thinking context. One suggests that some useful (?) verbs for thinking about synthesis are: create, invent, compose, predict, plan, construct, design, imagine, propose, devise, formulate.... It took a little while before it dawned on me that we were using the word to mean two completely  different things.  


One of the reasons I'm attracted to a design thinking approach, is that it is a more organic way to support creative learning than  the artificiality of fitting learning to an intellectual construct. It seems to me that Bloom's is mainly being used prescriptively rather than descriptively.  Design thinking can also incorporate social and community learning, assuming as it does that learning is about making connections. Many people think best  in teams and working this way is increasingly a feature of the workplace. People don't generally think creatively in straight lines; but by meandering, collecting, sifting, sorting, and yes, sometimes, daydreaming.

I recently came upon a useful image of learning on Dave Cormier's blog
 A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads. It is an image used by Deleuze and Guattari to describe the way that ideas are multiple, interconnected and self-replicating. A rhizome has no beginning or end… like the learning process.
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If knowledge is really 'rhizomatic' learners will need to be shown ways to make their own connections and routes through the tangle of information they collect at the immersion phase.  I really like the idea of making a project corner of the kind recommended in Ewan Macintosh's  Design Thinking School.  It is similar to the writing corner I was beginning to develop back in the days when I was teaching primary years. But with five different classes using one room  - which is shared with other lessons too, it would be impossible to organise - so I'll be trying out an online wall instead. I reckon a Google apps drawing with editing rights for users might work.  Anyone got any better suggestions?

As before I've created a "StarGet" page that outlines the evidence needed in order to be awarded the three badges. Evidence can come in many forms but needs to show that the student is capable of organising the material they collected during the immersion phase in way that allows them to identify problems worth solving. 

*     For one star they must show that they can organise their collection. This organisation could be lists, noticeboards like wallwisher, mindmaps like bubbl.us, diagrams such as Google apps drawings, flowcharts such as Gliffy, spreadsheets  (GApps) - or photo records of the paper equivalents.
**    For two stars they need to show they have made connections and clustered ideas
***   For three stars they will need to have identified a problem to pursue, framed it as a question and shared  it with others.

Of course I'd be delighted to receive your comments either below or on the StarGet page.