Imagination is not something only for artists. Imagination is a flexibility of mind to think of possibilities that do not yet exist, to see from multiple perspectives, to project into other people's perceptions, and empathize. Scientists and leaders, and teachers and learners use imagination as much as artists.

How does imagination - as defined here - interact with the integration of technology in teaching and learning? How does the use of technology require imagination? Does technology use DEVELOP imagination?

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Shamini,

I believe that imagination is an extremely important component of the integration of technology in teaching and learning. Technology is nothing more than a tool. It requires imagination in order to be put to use. Otherwise, technology does nothing on its own. In a learning environment, imagination comes from the collaborative efforts of all participants. When combined with the flexible nature of technology, the possibilities for classroom integration are almost endless. In such an environment, a very unique climate emerges that promotes the sharing of experiences of facilitates the synthesis of new ideas and knowledge through authentic learning. Being exposed to such an environment teaches participants to explore technology as a tool to bring their imagination to fruition. In addition to inspiring out of the box thinking, the process of utilizing technology in this way further develops, exercises, and refines the imagination. 

Hi Gilbert  - thanks for responding. I really like your comment on how the collaborative nature of technology use can lead to imaginative or flexible and out of the box thinking. In my own teaching I've seen students who have trouble being cognitively and affectively agile develop this agility and flexibility when we work together using wikis and especially when we make photo and video montages to share. But I wonder, would working collaboratively on any multi-modal way - say with art and movement - be the same thing? What does technology offer in the way of exercising and developing cognitive agility that we cannot easily do in other ways?

Shamini,

I think that working collaboratively is the key. I am a proponent of social learning theory and I think that there is a natural alignment with those principles and technology. There is an inherently social aspect to technology and when it is applied to an educational environment, it fosters new opportunities for collaboration and exploration. I believe that technology exercises cognitive agility more effectively among today's 21st century learners because the learning process for these "digital natives" has developed with a heavy reliance on technology as a tool for just about everything that they do. That is not to say that exercising cognitive agility can not accomplished in other ways with modern day students, I just feel that infusing technology in the process brings them into a zone that is more conducive to learning for them.

I agree. I too feel that social learning theory has powerful principles that speak to optimal teaching/learning, especially today. And you're absolutely right - there is a natural alignment with the ways in which we interact with and use digital technology. I also think you're right about the fact that many of our students are digital natives and so are more engaged when we use digital tech. But apart from the fact that using technology works because it's more conducive to what students like and are used to, I think there is something inherent in human-digital technology interaction that promotes and demands imagination.  Interacting in digital spaces - especially in social-collaborative contexts - means we have to deal with divergent information and perspectives, to make sense of this complex information, select, make connections (i.e. deconstruct and reconstruct understanding). This is an act of imagination - the cognitive agility to switch perspectives, to see beyond the here and now, or see from multiple perspectives.

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