creativity = workplace productivity

In my P21 Creativity Course, I have been learning how creative problem solving is key to workforce success. The course document “What we know about creativity” indicates:

“The well-documented, shifting global paradigm from manufacturing to knowledge-based to innovation economies makes the ability to solve problems creatively a necessary skill for educational and workforce success” (p. 1).

This document defines creativity in ways that mirror the Coursera course on Creativity that I took earlier in my LCP, and it is interesting that my own desire to be a creative learner is in line with what employers are requiring in today’s workforce.

The document indicates that creativity definitions are well developed, and they generally all tend to include novelty, usefulness and social context as defining factors (p. 1). It points out that learning environments are as important as innate ability in student creativity (p. 4), and that the specific conditions of such learning environments include:

  • Openness to experience
  • Confidence in one’s own creative ability
  • Task motivation
  • Domain knowledge and expertise
  • Resilience in the face of criticism

Several means of assessment for creativity are also described.

In all of my reading, Creativity is described as something that requires work, not just innate ability.

Before Christmas, my Creativity mentor, Kathleen, referred me to a blog by James Clear, who offers advice on how to  “master” creativity and transform our habits so that we can be more creative, which will help us be more productive and happier.


Clear, J. (1994). Mastering creativity: break through mental blocks, uncover your creative genius, and make brilliance a habit. Retrieved from

Clear, J. (2013). Transform your habits: learning how psychology makes it easier for you to live healthy and actually stick to your goals. Retrieved from

Plucker, J. A., Kaufman, J. C., Beghetto, R. A. (n.d.). What we know about creativity: part of the 4Cs Research Series. Retrieved from

This document contains an annotated bibliography.



creativity and collaboration in the 21st century

As part of my Coursera course, Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World, I watched a series of videos entitled “Everything is a Remix“, which makes the case that creating something new requires us to “copy, transform and combine”. The messages of this video series align with those in the creativity course  I took, which advocates that practice and commitment are needed to be creative (to move from small-c interest to big-C genius, or somewhere in between). In the third video, copying is referred to as the “soil” for creativity; “memes” need to be copied, transformed and combined for new things to happen.

This video series has helped me understand why Creativity and Collaboration are identified as important skills in 21st century workplaces. In order for new things to happen, we have to ensure that ideas, which have often become locked up in a market economy, are cultivated, shared, discussed, mashed up and built upon. This will only happen if our students are encouraged to be collaborative and to think creatively.

As the creator of the video series suggests, we need the best ideas possible, we need them now and we need them to spread fast (video 4).

The P21 course I am taking on Creativity refers to a Fortune Magazine blog post by Barbara Dyer on the need for a creative workforce. She says that “creativity is no longer an option in the workplace…Promoting a culture of creativity requires honing the skills of observation and intention“.

4cs of 21st century learning, metaliteracy, and observing students learn

Through an email from the P21 site list, I have linked to a course in the 4 Cs of 21st century learning: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking, and I plan to work through this course over the holidays. I am also taking a Coursera course called Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World, which gives insight into becoming a reflective learner.

For the past couple of months, I’ve found it challenging to regain a focus in my LCP. Work has been very busy and I’ve been focussed on a significant project which involves creating a digital yearbook archives for NSCC. As I reflect on this project, however, I am pleased with how much of my LCP learning I’ve been seeing in action.

One of the most salient pieces of this project for me has been developing work placements for 6 students in the Library and Information Technology (LIT) program at NSCC. By applying my LCP learning to this process, I feel my project team has been able to create a rich work experience for these students.

Throughout the process, I’ve striven to apply principles of adult learning, or andragogy. These students are adult learners, so we have to be conscious of applying these principles. I have spent time learning what these students bring to this project so that I can build upon their existing knowledge. I have also learned more about their interests to help them apply the learning from the project to their career goals.

I have also focussed on the 4cs:

  • Communication is key: I have held team meetings with the students so they are aware of the scope of the project and where their work fits, and so that they can share their learning with the project team. We have discussed how procedures are a key communication tool in an organization, which fits with the research I’ve found that we have to train our students in the information tools of their fields.
  • Collaboration works best: Originally, we had decided to place 3 students for this project, but 6 applied. I was conscious of the placements modelling their future workplaces, however, and in most of these they will be collaborative. So, we placed all of them in pairs, which gives them the opportunity to collaborate with each other to develop these new organizational workflows.
  • Creativity = Productivity: At the outset of this project, I gave these students permission to fail. I pointed out that this was a brand new workflow for our department and that only through their trial and error would we learn how to develop efficient workflows.
  • Critical Thinking is the yeast:  I have encouraged the students to not be afraid to question procedures, to look at why they are doing something and identify if they think there is a better way. I have pointed out that Communication is still crucial and not to change procedure without consulting with the the team. I have also been drawing parallels to some of the instruction in their program and how it relates to the project at hand, encouraging them to look beyond the workflows of what they are learning in class to the theory behind it, so they can apply the learning in multiple environments.

These four P21 components are intertwined; I’ve noticed that when we collaborate, we are more likely to be creative and to think critically. When communication is effective, we are more creative. And all of this leads to a workplace satisfaction that is, I believe, very healthy!

moving into the 21st century

On August 4, 2016, I met with Mary Jane at the Lunenburg Campus to discuss next steps for our LCP. We have decided over the next year to focus on the 21st century skills, with the goal of making recommendations for how Library Services can provide programs and collections which respond to these skills and the new ACRL framework. Here is our brainstorming about what we know so far related to information literacy needs in the 21st century and what we want to discover:

meeting with MJ.1

This was some free-form brainstorming about the different components of how library instruction and 21st century skills can connect:

meeting with MJ.2

And here are what we see as our next steps. We have found that preparing for presentations provides a strong incentive to focus our work, so we plan to explore presenting at several conferences next year.

meeting with MJ.3