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?