Teaching Creativity through Code

While digital pedagogy is often associated with using technology to change communication both within and beyond the classroom through tools such as Twitter, blogs, etc., most of these forms remain primarily textual. I am particularly interested in where digital pedagogy crosses into code itself. The teaching of coding and digital development as part of a humanities lens is very different from code in a computer science classroom, and certain goals (like teaching production-ready programmers) will not fit well alongside critical humanities goals. I’d like to share and brainstorm new methods with others who believe code has a place in classrooms across disciplines, including literature. I believe adding code and procedural literacy intensive assignments to a literature or writing classroom can be another valuable tool for avoiding essay overload and encouraging students to make works that have potential value beyond the classroom, though the obstacles to such creativity are not insignificant.

Creative code assignments can make many forms, including:

  • Electronic editions of a work
  • Interactive explorations of a character’s point of view
  • Hypertextual essays examining an idea
  • Serious games illuminating a controversy or new way of thinking
  • Creative storytelling
  • Remixing of public domain texts and objects through a curatorial lens

There’s already some interesting conversations occurring at MLA that we could draw on, including the Electronic Literature “Avenues of Access” exhibit and Brian’s Teaching with Games session (at which I am presenting), but I think there’s room for a more pragmatic discussion on how tools like Twine, Inform 7, hyperlinked web production, GameMaker, and many other accessible platforms can be used for creative code assignments. I’ve brainstormed a few tools for creating games in the classroom, but there are many more out there.

How can creating experimental, interactive, playful or otherwise unexpected digital forms of work change students’ relationships to ideas? What are the challenges and rewards of teaching code as an expressive tool? What can we learn from electronic literature and games to transform assignments in the classroom?

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2 comments on “Teaching Creativity through Code
  1. I love this idea, Anastasia. I think Code is a great place to start this sort of discussion. But I wonder if we could have another session about using digital pedagogy to get our students to be creative.

    To wit, my favorite assignment from this last semester asked students to storyboard an interactive app/experience for a book of poetry. It was a way for them to engage in argument without writing just another paper.

  2. Mary Anne says:

    After reading some texts on the tech revolution with my classes, I am beginning to see code as a contemporary analogy to poetry in the Romantic period. But could I ever learn enough about coding to incorporate it in my classes? I am so glad to know about the Frankenstein app, as I can put that to work immediately.

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