Keynote speaker David Eagleman, Ph.D., a neuroscientist, bestselling author, professor, speaker, and inventor blew the crowd away with his deep dive into the developing brain. Imagine over 86 billion neurons making about 500 trillion connections to make us who we are. Due to the size of our brain and the distance between input and output, humans have the capacity to move beyond reactionary impulses and well into the realm of creativity and innovation. But the efficiency of our neuron pathways can become a barrier to creativity because they are always looking for the most efficient path, the brain is ruthlessly efficient according to Dr. Eagleman. So we need to practice being creative, we need outlets to express ourselves, think deeply about ideas and struggle with challenging materials. Our brain is working at maximum capacity when engagement is frustrating but achievable, and educators are seeking opportunities to move students beyond cut and paste questions and answers to prepare students for the jobs that computers can’t do, like asking What If. They want their classrooms to start with creativity.
So where are we as an ed tech platform, in this conversation? How do we connect what we offer with this idea of starting with creativity? It all starts with every conversation we have with customers and how we frame what Mathletics has to offer. For sure our gaming platforms offer students the ability to access and grapple with challenging materials. The whole idea of gaming up is based on a frustrating but achievable mindset. The fact that we offer students the ability to represent their learning through multiple channels: content activities, games, and rich tasks and that our rich tasks challenge students to find multiple answers for each activity should all be part of our conversations. We can also leverage our knowledge of movements in education like Makerspace and Project Based Learning to become the support system that adds meaning and value to the creative experiences students are having. Think back to our Makerspsace activity, the level of engagement and creativity involved was through the roof AND off the chain. Had we been in a classroom situation, we could have easily come back to the mechanics of what we were doing and had multiple rich math conversations like exploring slope, and force and then explored Mathletics content to strengthen our understanding and build mastery. When we are having conversation with schools we should ask what creative projects they have students working on and then offer examples of how we can support that creative process. These are just some ideas of how we can extend ourselves, I hope you will add your ideas to the list!