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Key competence creativity and how it can be fostered in online teaching

Christoph Lattemann, Professor of Business Administration and Information Management at Jacobs University, is leading a project that intends to develop digital solutions to support the creativity of students. (Source: Jacobs University)


July 8, 2021
Whether at universities or at schools – in the wake of the pandemic, e-learning has become the new normal. Even more than in face-to-face classes, the promotion of creativity is often neglected in digital teaching. An interdisciplinary research project led by Jacobs University Bremen wants to change this. It intends to develop digital solutions with which the creativity of students and other learners can be specifically supported, regardless of the subject studied or taught.

With digitization and automation, the demands on teaching and also on the professional world are changing. There is less demand for the pure teaching of facts, which can be researched online anytime, and memorization with a view to an exam. Soft skills that cannot be automated or researched are becoming more important. These include the ability for critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, namely the ability to create something that is new.

The media and communication scientist Xingyue Yang (left) and psychologist Pia Gebbing (right) conducting a creative exercise using a digital whiteboard. (Source: Jacobs University)

"For professional success in a modern society, creativity is a key competence," said Christoph Lattemann, Professor of Business Administration and Information Management at Jacobs University and head of the project. "This is considered far too little in the curricula. We need to learn to be creative again." Lattemann and his team, which includes psychologist Pia Gebbing and the media and communication scientist Xingyue Yang, rely on Design Thinking, an approach for developing new ideas and innovations.

In face-to-face teaching, this concept has proven itself many times over. Now it is being adapted to the conditions of online teaching. Which is a challenge, as teamwork often falls by the wayside online, but it is a central element of the method. So what techniques can be used to promote creativity in digital teaching? That is the central question of the project. For example, a virtual whiteboard is used to exchange ideas, as well as a selection of creative methods that can be assigned to the different phases of Design Thinking.

The digital creative concept is being tested and further developed in seminars with students at Jacobs University. However, the approach is not limited to academia. A school in Bremen, for example, is also involved, as are companies from the Hanseatic city and the surrounding area of the partner institutions. These include the Technical University of Braunschweig and the University of Agder in Norway.

The project is funded by the Jacobs Foundation as part of the initiative B3 – Bildung Beyond Boundaries. The “Bildung Beyond Boundaries” (B³) is a joint initiative conceived by the Jacobs Foundation and Jacobs University Bremen, supporting innovative and radical ideas in higher education. In the course of the challenge, the Jacobs Foundation has financed nine research projects with a total amount of up to 1,3 Mio Euros (1,5 Mio Swiss francs).

The project will be completed by the middle of next year. Professor Lattemann's team then wants to present a generally applicable concept with techniques and methods for promoting creativity in a virtual learning world. "Whether teachers at the university or at school, whether students or pupils: everyone can learn to be more creative," Lattemann is convinced.

Questions are answered by:
Dr. Christoph Lattemann
Professor of Business Administration and Information Management
Tel: +49 421 200-3460
Email: c.lattemann [at]