Step forth into the Creativity Portal

14th September 2012 at 01:00
Imaginative teaching ideas, videos and a tailored newsfeed are all at your fingertips, says Jackie Cosh

Creativity means different things to different people, and nowhere is that more evident than on the revamped national Creativity Portal being launched at next week's Scottish Learning Festival.

Since its original launch two years ago, the portal has acted as a reference point for schools s to get inspiration for creativity, with teaching ideas and a wealth of information available on arts organisations. The revamp has been designed to include creativity in the wider, less traditional sense.

A biologist, a ballet dancer and a space exploration engineer are among the professionals featured in eight Creativity at Work videos, speaking in their own language about creativity. Videos are now embedded into the site, so that users go straight to them.

A tailored newsfeed service keeps practitioners up-to-date; the growth of this has been "exponential", according to the portal's development officer, Stephen Bullock. On entering the portal, users can now recommend content to others, and this information will be highlighted when users with similar interests log on.

The Toybox films are a series of short films with hands-on activities for learners to get straight into a creative thinking exercise. Teachers can use the ideas to fill five minutes they might have or even to base an entire lesson on if they wish - posing the question, for example, "What if we have seven fingers and three legs?"

"It is much more visual now. It also gives us more flexibility to keep up with the technology, so it is much more geared towards online videos," says Mr Bullock.

"There was an opportunity to revamp it financially and we wanted to make it more flexible for us behind the scenes, so we could make it more adaptive to what userss were looking for - and also to make the searching far more accessible. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but we had the opportunity to change the things they wanted changed."

Creative Learning Networks play a big part in the new site, and again allow more tailored information to be provided. With each local authority having its own network to build capacity for creative learning and creative teaching, they can all share news as well as opportunities for training and sharing exercises.

"It is really the one-stop shop to get your local contacts who are going to help you build creativity into what you are doing," says Mr Bullock, "as well as all the research, the creative partners, case studies, videos and all the other resources. The community learning networks have always been there but now they are more accessible."

Strategically, the changes follow the move away from the portal being mainly expressive arts.

"Originally there were a lot of expressive arts partners on there. Now we are pushing the move across the different subject areas, so the Toybox films are applicable regardless of subject area and the Creativity at Work videos obviously go well beyond the expressive arts," says Mr Bullock.

The changes have been introduced gradually since May, with a long-term aim of making the portal easier to navigate and more relevant, but also more inclusive of all types of creativity.

"Long term, we will be building capacity for creative physics learning and creative maths learning," says Mr Bullock.

"We are on a mission to make technology more useful and for all practitioners, whatever their specialism is. And we are aware there is a lot going on out there which needs to be shared. Often people don't know they are being creative."

IN NUMBERS

22,472 - Unique users of the portal since the launch.

100,000 - Page views recorded.

1,000 - Opportunities and resources have been shared by the creative partners through the Creativity Portal newsfeeds.

SCOTTISH LEARNING FESTIVAL

- The Creativity Portal - the One-Stop Shop for Creative Learning, Teaching and Partnerships, Wednesday 19 September, 1.45pm

- Creativity - Experience it, Understand it, Use it, Teach it, Thursday 20 September, 10.45am

www.scottishlearningfestival.org.uk

WHO'S USING THE CREATIVITY PORTAL AND HOW?

Barbara Grey, headteacher, Charleston Primary, Aberdeen

"We use the Creativity Portal in a range of ways and I encourage staff to use it. I regularly send emails out to staff about something I have found that is of interest, because I am very keen to promote creativity in teaching and learning. I use it to give staff tools, to help them address the creativity element of our curriculum. Even at such a young age it is good for children to see the creativity in workplaces. Those short clips are fantastic. The case studies are great, as are the Toybox films. Everything is there."

Eppie Sprung-Dawson, English teacher, St Joseph's College, Dumfries

"I have mainly used the portal for finding out about groups that work with young people - creative partners, and for linking up with them. I ran a cross-curricular project called State of Emergency, where you pretend to the kids that they are in a revolution in the town, and we had all sorts of agencies brought in, and that was coordinated with Visible Fictions (theatre company) as well as the police and artists. And that was the kind of thing I think the Creativity Portal was designed for, because it allows for that to happen as it gets everything together in one place. So that is helpful for someone like me who is trying to coordinate it."

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