Volume 10 · Number 3 · Pages 388–396
Learning about Urban Sustainability with Digital Stories: Promoting Collaborative Creativity from a Constructionist Perspective

Maria Daskolia, Chronis Kynigos & Katerina Makri

Log in download the full text in PDF

> Citation > Similar > References > Add Comment


Context: Sustainability is among major societal goals in our days. Education is acknowledged as an essential strategy for attaining sustainability by activating the creative potential within young people to understand sustainability, bring forth changes in their everyday life, and collectively envision a more sustainable future. Problem: However, teaching and learning about sustainability and sustainability-related issues is not an easy task due to the inherent complexity, ambiguity, and context-specificity of the concept. We are in need of innovative pedagogical approaches and tools that will allow us to design learning activities in which learners will be empowered to develop new, alternative interpretations of sustainability in personally and collectively meaningful ways. Method: We argue that a constructionist perspective involving the use of expressive media for digital storytelling offers an appropriate frame for designing learning activities fostering collaborative creativity in thinking and learning about urban sustainability. Our study is based on the design of a learning activity following this rationale. We adopted a qualitative approach in the collection and analysis of different sources of data with the aim to explore collaborative creativity as a learning process based on the students’ collective processes and resulting in the co-construction of new ideas and insights about sustainability, and new tangible artefacts (the digital stories) encompassing them. Results: Our analysis of the collaborative creativity exemplified in the three digital stories produced identified important creative elements with regards to the three components of a digital story (script, technical characteristics, and ideas of urban sustainability) and how they were embodied in each digital story produced as a result of the students’ joint constructionist activity. Implications: Our study provides some preliminary evidence that collaborative creativity from a constructionist perspective can stand as an appropriate framework for designing learning activities addressing the difficult concept of sustainability. There are several implications for both theory and educational practice in environmental education and education for sustainable development, constructionism, and digital storytelling in education. Moreover, our study opens up new fields for research and theory in creativity.

Key words: Sustainability, urban sustainability, collaborative creativity, constructionism, digital storytelling, learning design.


Daskolia M., Kynigos C. & Makri K. (2015) Learning about urban sustainability with digital stories: Promoting collaborative creativity from a constructionist perspective. Constructivist Foundations 10(3): 388–396. http://constructivist.info/10/3/388

Export article citation data: Plain Text · BibTex · EndNote · Reference Manager (RIS)

Similar articles

Kynigos C. (2015) Designing Constructionist E-Books: New Mediations for Creative Mathematical Thinking?
Makri K., Daskolia M. & Kynigos C. (2015) Authors’ Response: Seeking “Power” in Powerful Ideas, Systems Thinking and Affective Aspects of Learning
Buteau C., Sacristán A. I. & Muller E. (2019) Roles and Demands in Constructionist Teaching of Computational Thinking in University Mathematics
Boytchev P. (2015) Constructionism and Deconstructionism
Dagienė V., Futschek G. & Stupurienė G. (2019) Creativity in Solving Short Tasks for Learning Computational Thinking


Arnedillo-Sánchez I. (2008) The mobile digital narrative tool. In: Arnedillo-Sánchez I. & Isaias P. (eds.) Mobile learning. IADIS Press, Lisbon: 77–83. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Aylett R. (2006) And they both lived happily ever after? In: Dettori G., Giannetti T., Paiva A. & Vaz A. (eds.) Technology-mediated narrative environments for learning. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam: 5–25. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Benick G. (2012) Digital storytelling and diasporic identities in higher education. CELT (Collected Essays on Teaching and Learning) 5. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Blewitt J. (2005) Education for sustainable development, governmentality and learning to last. Environmental Education Research 11(2): 173–185. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Booth Sweeney L. (2001) When a butterfly sneezes: A guide for helping kids explore interconnections in our world through favorite stories. Pegasus Communications, Waltham MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Booth Sweeney L. (2012) Learning to connect the dots: Developing children’s systems literacy. Solutions for a Sustainable and Desirable Future 5(3): 55–62. http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1167
Bruner J. (1990) Acts of meaning. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bruner J. (1996) The culture of education. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bruner J. (2003) Making stories. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bruner J. (2004) Narratives of science. In: Scanlon E., Murphy P., Thomas J. & Whitelegg E. (eds.) Reconsidering science learning. Routledge Falmer, London: 90–98. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Bugliarello G. (2006) Urban sustainability: Dilemmas, challenges and paradigms. Technology in society 28(1): 19–26. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Burleson W. (2005) Developing creativity, motivation, and self-actualization with learning systems. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 63(4–5): 436–451. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Colantonio A. (2010) Urban social sustainability themes and assessment methods. Proceedings of the ICE-Urban Design and Planning 163(2): 79–88. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Colella V. (2000) Participatory simulations: Building collaborative understanding through immersive dynamic modeling. Journal of the Learning Sciences 9(4): 471–500. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Colella V. S., Klopfer E. & Resnick M. (2001) Adventures in modeling: Exploring complex dynamic systems with Starlogo. Teachers College Press, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Craft A. (2008) Studying collaborative creativity: Implications for education. Thinking skills and creativity 3(3): 241–245. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Crawford C. (2005) Chris Crawford on interactive storytelling. New Riders, Berkley CA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Danish J., Peppler K., Phelps D. & Washington D. (2011) Life in the hive: Supporting inquiry into complexity within the zone of proximal development. Journal of Science Education and Technology 20(5): 454–467. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Daskolia M. & Kynigos C. (2012) Applying a constructionist frame to learning about sustainability. Special issue “Higher education.” Creative Education 3: 818–823. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Daskolia M., Dimos A. & Kampylis P. (2012) Secondary teachers’ conceptions of creative thinking within the context of Environmental Education. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education 7(2): 269–290. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dettori G. & Giannetti T. (2006) A concise introduction to narrative learning environments. Research Report. 2006. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00190494/document.
Dettori G. & Lupi V. (2009) Using a narrative blog to support reflection in a blended course. In: Wang F. L., Fong J., Zhang L. & Lee V. S. K. (eds.) Hybrid learning and education. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5685. Springer, Berlin: 274–283. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dettori G. & Paiva A. (2009) Narrative learning in technology-enhanced environments. In: Ludvigsen S., Balacheff N., de Jong T., Lazonder A. & Barnes S. (eds.) Technology-enhanced learning: Principles and products. Springer, Berlin: 55–69. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dettori G. (2012) Supporting learners’ interaction by means of narrative activities. In: Jia J. Y. (ed.) Educational stages and interactive learning: From kindergarten to workplace training. IGI Global, Hershey PA: 107–120. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dettori G., Giannetti T., Paiva A. & Vaz A. (eds.) (2006) Technology-Mediated Narrative Environments for Learning. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Dobson A. (1998) Justice and the environment: Conceptions of environmental sustainability and theories of distributive justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
European Council (2010) Council conclusions on education for sustainable development. Brussels. Retrieved from http://consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/educ/117855.pdf on 19 November 2010. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Freidus N. & Hlubinka M. (2002) Digital storytelling for reflective practice in communities of learners. Newsletter ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin 23(2): 24–26. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Fuglestad A. B., Healy L., Kynigos C. & Monaghan J. (2010) Working with teachers: Context and culture, teacher and technology. In: Hoyles C. & Lagrange J.-B. (eds.) Digital technologies and mathematics teaching and learning: Rethinking the terrain. Springer, New York: 293–310. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Gabriel Y. & Connell N. A. D. (2010) Co-creating stories: Collaborative experiments in storytelling. Management Learning 41: 507–523. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Guilford J. P. (1950) Creativity. American Psychologist 5: 444–454. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Hmelo-Silver C. E. & Pfeffer M. G. (2004) Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions. Cognitive Science 28(1): 127–138. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
2005) Sustainable development: Mapping different approaches. Sustainable development 13(1): 38–52. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jacobson M. J. & Wilensky U. (2006) Complex systems in education: Scientific and education importance and implications for the learning sciences. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 15(1): 11–34. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
John-Steiner V. (1993) Creative lives, creative tensions. Creativity Research Journal 5(1): 99–108. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Jonassen D. H. (1997) Instructional design models for well-structured and ill-structured problem-solving learning outcomes. Educational Technology Research and Development 45(1): 65–94. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kafai Y. & Resnick M. (eds.) (1996) Constructionism in practice. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, New Jersey. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kafai Y. B. (2006) Constructionism. In: Sawyer K. (ed.) Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge MA: 35–46. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kangas M. (2010) Creative and playful learning: Learning through game co-creation and games in a playful learning environment. Thinking Skills and Creativity 5(1): 1–15. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kaufman J. C. & Beghetto R. A. (2009) Beyond big and little: The Four C model of creativity. Review of general psychology 13(1): 1–12. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kleiman P. (2008) Towards transformation: Conceptions of creativity in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 45(3): 209–217. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kynigos C. (2007) Half-baked logo microworlds as boundary objects in integrated design. Informatics in Education 6(2): 1–24. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kynigos C. (2007) Using half-baked microworlds to challenge teacher educators’ knowing. International Journal of Computers in Mathematics Learning 12: 87–111. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Kynigos C. (2012) Niches for Constructionism: Forging connections for practice and theory. In: Kynigos C., Clayson J. & Yiannoutsou Y. (eds.) Proceedings of the international conference “Constructionism 2012.” Vivliosynergatiki, Athens: 40–51. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Lambert J. (2002) Web 2.0 storytelling. Digital Diner Press, Berkeley CA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Levine A. & Alexander B. (2008) Digital storytelling: The emergence of a new genre. http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/web-20-storytelling-emergence-new-genre
Loveless A. (2002) Literature review in creativity, new technologies and learning. Nesta Futurelab, Bristol. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Mamykina L., Candy L. & Edmonds E. (2002) Collaborative creativity. Communications of the ACM 45(10): 96–99. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Mateas M. & Sengers P. (2002) Narrative intelligence. In: Mateas M. & Sengers P. (eds.) Narrative intelligence. John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam: 1–25. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Megill A. (1995) Relativism, or the different senses of objectivity. Academic Questions 8(3): 33–39. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Milgram S. (1970) The experience of living in cities. Science 167(3924): 1461–1468. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Moran S. & John-Steiner V. (2003) Creativity in the making. In: Sawyer R. K., John-Steiner V., Moran S., Sternberg R. J., Feldman D. H., Nakamura J. & Csikszentmihalyi M. (eds.) Creativity and development. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 61–90. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Moran S. (2010) Creativity in school. In: Littleton K., Woods C. & Staarman J. K. (eds.) International handbook of psychology in education. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley UK: 319–359. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Newman P. (1999) Sustainability and cities: Extending the metabolism model. Landscape and Urban Planning 44: 219–226. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Norton B. G. (2005) Sustainability: A philosophy of adaptive ecosystem management. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ogle R. (2007) Smart world: Breakthrough creativity and the new science of ideas. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Papert S. & Harel I. (1991) Preface: Situating constructionism. In: Harel I. & Papert S. (eds.) Constructionism: Research reports and essays, 1985–1990. Ablex: Norwood NJ: 1–11. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Papert S. (1980) Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. Basic Books, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Papert S. (1993) The children’s machine. Rethinking school in the age of the computer. Basic Books, New York. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Peppler K., Santo R., Gresalfi M. & Salen Tekinbaş K. (2014) Script changers: Digital storytelling with Scratch. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Picard R. W., Papert S., Bender W., Blumberg B., Breazeal C., Cavallo D., Machover T., Resnick M., Roy T. & Strohecker C. (2004) Affective learning: a manifesto. BT Technology Journal 22(4): 253–269. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Polkinghorne D. (1988) Narrative knowing and the human sciences. State University of New York Press, New York NY. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Resnick M. (1996) Distributed constructionism. In: Edelson D. C. & Domeshek E. A. (eds.) Proceedings of the 1996 international conference on Learning sciences (ICLS ’96) International Society of the Learning Sciences, Charlottesville, VA: 280–284. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Resnick M., Maloney J., Monroy-Hernández A., Rusk N., Eastmond E., Brennan K., Millner A., Rosenbaum E., Silver J., Silverman B. & Kafai Y. (2009) Scratch: Programming for all. Communications of the ACM 52(11): 60–67. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Roseland M. (2012) Toward sustainable communities: Solutions for citizens and their governments. Volume 6. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island BC. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Santoro F. M. & Brezillon P. (2005) Towards the narrative approach to collect group knowledge and context. In: Zaraté P., Soubie J. L., Borges M. R. S. & Pino J. A. (eds.) Workshop “Context and Groupware” in conjunction with The Fifth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context (CONTEXT–05), 5–8 July 2005, Paris, France. http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-133/CSGC_No02_Santoro.pdf
Sawyer R. K. (2006) Educating for innovation. Thinking Skills and Creativity 1: 41–48. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schneider F., Kallis G. & Martinez-Alier J. (2010) Crisis or opportunity? Economic degrowth for social equity and ecological sustainability. Introduction to this special issue. Journal of cleaner production 18(6): 511–518. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Schraw G. & Moshman D. (1995) Metacognitive theories. Educational Psychology Review 7(4): 351–371. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Sharples M., Milrad M., Arnedillo Sánchez I. & Vavoula G. (2009) Mobile learning: Small devices, big issues. In: Balacheff N., Ludvigsen S., de Jong T., Lazonder A. & Barnes S. (eds.) Technology enhanced learning: Principles and products. Springer, Heidelberg: 233–249. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Siemens G. (2005) Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2(1): 1–7. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Simonton D. K. (2010) Creativity in highly eminent individuals. In: Kaufman J. C. & Sternberg R. J. (eds.) The Cambridge handbook of creativity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 174–188. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Sullivan F. R. (2011) Serious and playful inquiry: Epistemological aspects of collaborative creativity. Educational Technology & Society 14(1): 55–65. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
UNESCO (2005) UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005–2014. International Implementation Scheme – Draft. UNESCO, Paris. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Van Kamp I., Leidelmeijer K., Marsman G. & De Hollander A. (2003) Urban environmental quality and human well-being: Towards a conceptual framework and demarcation of concepts; a literature study. Landscape and urban planning 65(1): 5–18. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Vass E. (2007) Exploring processes of collaborative creativity: The role of emotions in children’s joint creative writing. Thinking Skills and Creativity 2(2): 107–117. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Wals A. E. J. (2010) Mirroring, gestaltswitching and transformative social learning: Stepping stones for developing sustainability competence. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 11(4): 380–390. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Ward T. B., Patterson M. J. & Sifonis C. M. (2004) The role of specificity and abstraction in creative idea generation. Creativity Research Journal 16(1): 1–9. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Warr A. & O’Neill E. (2005) Understanding design as a social creative process. In: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Creativity & Cognition. ACM Press, New York: 118–127. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar
Wilensky U. & Resnick M. (1999) Thinking in levels: A dynamic systems perspective to making sense of the world. Journal of Science and Technology 8(1): 3–19. ▸︎ Google︎ Scholar

Comments: 0

To stay informed about comments to this publication and post comments yourself, please log in first.