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On November 21-22, 2014, I attended the ICT Conference on Creativity & Innovation in Philippine Education at the De La Salle University Manila. This was hosted by UNESCO Bangkok (UNESCO Philippine Resource Distribution and Training Center) and co-hosted by six Philippine universities, namely: De La Salle University Manila, University of the Philippines, Mariano Marcos State University, MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology, University of the East and University of Santo Tomas. The venue for the conference was at the 18th floor of the Andrew Building.

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The plenary speakers for the event were Dr. Scott Rader of Western Carolina University and Dr. Lloyd Espiritu of De La Salle University Manila.

Here are the 6 lessons that I learned about creativity and innovation based on the conference:

1. Continuity versus Discontinuity. Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Distance Education have been employed in many universities and schools over the years. Good communication practices and accessibility have been employed in the exchange of information between teachers and students during the course of the subject. However, access to resources seem to be cut off right after the students take the course.

When a course ends, it seems that learning also ends with the closing of the online course site or app. To this, Dr. Scott Rader commented, “To develop social capital and continuity of learning community, push for the development of platforms that blend the functionality of social networking sites as well as learning management systems.”

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2.  3 Rs versus 4 Cs. The traditional educational system focused on the 3 Rs: Read, wRite and aRithmetic. While not much have changed in the 21st century with regards to the importance of the 3 Rs, it is important as well to add skills for students to face the challenging and competitive job market nowadays. Thus, the 4 Cs, namely: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration, are introduced.

According to the Blackboard regional president, Phillip Murray, “Students now choose where, when and how to learn.” Students can improve their knowledge by attending multiple institutions, following their employers, listening to peers, pursuing skills and competencies, engaging with apps and becoming consumers of data and information. As a teacher, it is our role to understand that in the current state of the digital age, we are no longer the sole source of knowledge, our role is to facilitate the various information that our students access, process and use every day.

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3. Talk ‘N Test versus Touch & Mobile. My former professor Dr. Lloyd Espiritu (referred to as Doc Lloyd hereinafter) at the graduate school of De La Salle University Manila gave a powerful talk on “Cultivating an eLearning Culture” He started his talk with a picture of a mother (Ces) and her son (Nico). Ces and Nico have both been students of Doc Lloyd. Ces was a Behavioral Science major student of Doc Lloyd at the University of Santo Tomas in 1985 while Nico was a Psychology major student at the De La Salle University Manila. Doc Lloyd posed the question to the audience: “Do you think I will teach Nico the same way that I taught Ces in 1985?” and the people in the hall answered a resounding “NO”.

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Doc Lloyd considered Ces’ generation before as “Talk ‘N Test” wherein he gives a lecture then gives a quiz or exam to the students. Nico’s generation belongs to the “Touch & Mobile”. A generation that checks their mobile phones 150 times per day, photograph notes written on the board, and immerse themselves in not just one mobile device.

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Doc Lloyd challenges barriers by incorporating technology in the classroom. He employed blended learning by creating an online course where his students can access all the resources needed in the topic- slides, videos and reading materials. Before the term ends, he assigned students to report what they have learned in a specific chapter. He creatively coined the reporting as “Teach-Back” activity. The students didn’t have traditional reporting but included fun activities to further advance their appreciation of the topics.

 4. Teacher versus the world. Doc Lloyd introduced an eye-opening scenario when he said that if you ask kids these days, “where did you learn that?” they will give you answers like from YouTube, TV, Google, friends and Wikipedia. Now, these sources are good (with some raised eyebrows on Wikipedia) but where is the classroom teacher in the picture? Clearly, we need to re-examine the role of the teacher in the 21st century.

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One role that a teacher can play is to be a curator of sources.  Teachers gather all the sources that they can find and curate them. As teachers, we are the experts when it comes to identifying the needs of our students and what resources (videos, animation, articles, books) that we can provide to them.

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5. What we know versus what we don’t know. Doc Lloyd pointed out that our capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. As teachers, it is our role to inspire our students to search for answers, make sense of the knowledge that we have now, select whatever is relevant (that which will suit our purposes) and connect to the bigger world out there. Doc Lloyd added two more thought-provoking lines: “Half of what you know will be obsolete in 10 years” and “the amount of knowledge in the world doubles every 18 months”.

6. 1990s versus 2010s. Lastly, Doc Lloyd has been an advocate in the use of technology in the classroom for the last 20 years. He divided his 20-year advocacy into three phases: Computer Literacy, ICT Integration and E-learning culture.

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In computer literacy, computers were just introduced in the schools in the Philippines and the primary concern of the faculty members and the students was how to use the new technology. In this phase, it was more on familiarization of the tools and computer education was a subject focused on computer literacy.

In the ICT integration phase, office productivity tools are no longer taught by computer education teachers but by other subject teachers. For instance, since ICT is integrated within the subjects, it is the role of the English teachers to teach basic word processing functions while computer education teachers will teach other forms of lessons like web design, programming or networking.

In the last and current phase, an e-Learning culture upholds a seamless integration of different digital tools across different platforms: mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. Doc Lloyd ended his speech by saying this “the entire society must accept that informal, Life-long, Technology-supported, and constructivist learning is here to stay.”

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