Prof. Kylie Hartley, Creative Ideation, and the SSU

Dr. Kylie Hartley is Professor of Psychology and Creativity in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, teaching courses within the Board Undergraduate Certificate in Creativity and Creative Problem Solving. In November 2020, Kylie had an interactive opportunity with the Sheridan Student Union (SSU) to engage and apply her research interests in nurturing everyday creativity and facilitating computer supported collaborative learning.

Using Miro to facilitate ‘Creative Ideation for the Mundane Activities’ with the Sheridan Student Union (SSU)

By Prof. Kylie Hartley

In October 2020, Gabrielle “Gaby” Moryoussef, SSU Vice President of HMC, reached out to our Creativity faculty to inquire about a professor facilitating a creative ideation session at their Annual General Meeting (AGM).  Gaby indicated the purpose of this session would be to give participants valuable take-away skills on how to generate new and innovative ideas to bleak subjects like by-laws, which would be the hot topic in their AGM. Working with Gaby was an absolute pleasure. I was immediately impressed with her professionalism and commitment to this project. The SSU is a student-driven organization and in-line with my preferred teaching style, I wanted this to be a student-led experience for Gaby. Over the course of a few weeks, we exchanged multiple emails and engaged in a video conference to narrow down on the theme of our session. We ended up focusing on using Miro, a virtual whiteboard software, to explore what is going well/not so well at Sheridan College. During my first term teaching at Sheridan College, my Creativity and Creative Thinking colleagues introduced me to this prompt and I’ll be honest – it fires students up. Additionally, it seemed like a great way for the SSU to gather data on student perspectives.

The SSU Annual General Meeting took place Thursday, November 26th 2020 with over 60 participating students. This was an unexpected number of participants, but luckily Miro can handle it. The session began with reviewing Divergent and Convergent Thinking and Divergent Thinking ground rules. We then jumped right into a five-minute Divergent Thinking activity using post-it brainwriting.

Image 1: Kylie Hartley

Participants were invited to type on both boards, things that are going well at Sheridan College and things that are not going so well at Sheridan College. Following this, I reviewed the ground rules for Convergent Thinking and invited them into a five-minute Convergent Thinking activity using dot-voting.  Image 1 shows our collaborative session for the board ‘What is going well at Sheridan College’. The two ideas with the most dots on this board include “great events hosted by the SSU” and “very supportive teaching staff”. Image 2 shows our collaborative session for the board ‘What is not going so well at Sheridan College’. The idea with the most dots on this board states “Professors don’t teach well as they are not able to control the classroom properly and it seems that people don’t get when to talk and when to converse during a teaching moment. Online learning isn’t the best way to teach. There should be reduced fees with the quality of education we are currently receiving. It’s unfortunate we have to pay almost the same amount as normal for our education.” Although it certainly feels better to read about the things going well at Sheridan College, it is just as important for us to understand students’ grievances.

Image 2: Kylie Hartley

For individuals who completed this task ahead of time, I invited them to note how they might use the things we discussed in this session in their everyday lives. A few great take-away points I noted on this board include “other profs can use this tool for in-class discussions too” and in relation to the ground rules for Convergent Thinking, “this thinking will help me to short list my ideas”. If you have not had a chance to check out Miro, I highly suggest doing so. This software has amazing templates and tools available to facilitate meetings and workshops, ideation and brainstorming, research and design, agile workflows, strategy and planning, and finally, mapping and diagramming.  I look forward to using it in my classes, both on-line and face-to-face.

              Gaby Moryoussef, SSU Vice President of HMC, also had a few thoughts to share about the Ideation session and process. When asked “what went well?”, Gaby replied: “What I found to be incredibly successful was the amount of participation from the audience. Observing in the online format, it is very difficult to get students to get involved in activities. Through the analytics presented to the executive team at the SSU, the Creative Brainstorming for Uncreative Tasks had the most active users engaging with the content. Everyone seemed pretty invested in populating the Miro page and not taking the content as a joke. I have experienced this exercise in person and I believed that it was translated into the virtual format very nicely.” To the question, “what could be improved?”, Gaby writes: “What I feel can be improved is the timing in which the workshop had. I feel that the information could have used slightly more time to explain the concepts before jumping into the workshop. Under the time constraint that was allotted, Kylie made the best out of the situation. Other than that, there is no complaints.” And finally, Gaby’s overall comment and feedback was, “the SSU executive team and the board of directors shared glowing reviews of their experiences. On November 27th, the Board of Directors assembled for their bi-weekly meetings and put into practice divergent thinking and soon as the opportunity presented itself.”