It’s something that you try to tap into every time you design new training content. Some might say you either have it or you don’t. I would like to think that each of us can be creative if we work hard enough. If you disagree and think it’s all in the genes, I encourage you to read the research findings of Marvin Reznikoff.
Another myth about creativity has to do with a lack of resources. If you had enough money and time, you could be more creative. Unfortunately, a lack of resources is not impacting your creativity. Constraints can actually make you more creative and force you to think outside the box.
Don’t you feel much better? Genetics and a lack of resources are no longer obstacles to your creativity. Here are four things I do to boost my creativity.
#1: Look for Inspiration Inside the Field of e-Learning
Inside the e-Learning field, there are four people I look to for inspiration when I need it:
- Jackie Van Nice participates in e-Learning challenges conducted via Articulate’s e-Learning Heroes Forum. For each challenge, she does a great job of explaining the thinking behind her work. Jackie starts each post by discussing how she came up with her initial idea. From there, she explains the visual and functional design elements she uses. Her “Dating Zombies as a Survival Strategy” is an excellent example of how her creative mind works!
- Montse Anderson is another e-Learning designer I follow. She has a strong background in graphics and multimedia design. I’m always inspired by some of her creations and she provides a color palette with each example as a bonus! Here is an example of an interactive video of hers that is really creative!
- Cathy Moore is an internationally recognized training designer. She focuses on designs that use her action mapping process. Her discussions inspire me to focus more on challenging activities and less on “eye candy”.
#2: Look for Inspiration Outside the Field of e-Learning
When in search of inspiration, it’s good to look outside the e-Learning field too. Two fields that I explore on a regular basis are photography and graphics. Here are a few sites I frequent:
If you browse photography sites, you’ll discover that photographers struggle with creativity too! Although not every solution for a photographer will apply to e-Learning, many do.
For example, the Rule of Thirds is often discussed in photography. The Rule of Thirds breaks an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so that you end up with 9 parts. If you place items at the intersections of these lines, they become more balanced. When viewing images, people’s eyes usually go to one of these intersections.
Why not apply the rule of thirds to the screens you design in your next e-Learning course? This will allow you to control where you want your learner to focus their attention?
#3: Be Open to Constructive Criticism and Feedback
Feedback if done right, can enhance your creativity. For example, let’s say you are struggling with how to present a specific topic in a creative way. Sharing what you have with someone else can give you a fresh perspective. What happens if you decide to not take their feedback? At the very least, their insights could get you thinking in another direction.
Remember, the purpose of feedback is to help you perform better at your chosen job. It’s not always to make you feel better about yourself.
#4: Free Your Mind to Focus on Creativity
In his book, Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, David Allen offers advice on boosting creativity.
He says trying to keep too much information in your head results in your “psychic RAM” becoming too full. This means you cannot process new ideas. He explains that psychic RAM holds information that will be relevant in the short to midterm. For example, common things you find in “psychic RAM” are reminders to pick up milk or that you need to buy stamps tomorrow. It’s also where you store that next great idea for an e-Learning interaction! He goes on to say storing too much information in your “psychic RAM” can cause your creativity to suffer. We need to clear our minds of these mundane details, memos, and facts and make room for new creative ideas. So, how can you do this? Write things down! The practice of getting things out of your head removes mental clutter leaving your mind free to focus on more important things!
What about you? Where do you go and what things do you do to boost your creativity and find inspiration? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you have a moment, please check out my new blog series, e-Learning Business Basics! It’s a series of articles I’m writing that cover the skills you should master to run your e-Learning freelance business more effectively. Once you have your business under control, you will have more time to focus on your creative endeavors!