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Higher Ed Experts Faculty Voice by Karine Joly

Let’s talk about creativity!

As I explained in my last post about the long-lasting love story between Higher Ed Experts and higher ed conference keynotes, we sponsored the closing keynote at the eduWeb Conference this year in San Diego, California. I’ve chosen this specific keynote, because it was such a great fit with Higher Ed Experts’ mission (helping you learn and grow in your higher ed career) and values.

I had the privilege to interview Amma Marfo, a professional speaker and author with a background in student life and higher ed communications to talk about her keynote, creativity in general and within higher education. After this short conversation, I felt energized and really excited about this talk.

I was really bummed to miss the keynote even though I made a short appearance thanks to the magic of video to introduce this fantastic speaker and professional to the conference audience on July 24.

In the professional certificate 8-week online course I teach on social media marketing for higher education, I always try to help my students think creatively and strategically in their social media work.

The assignments and class discussions in all our courses at Higher Ed Experts are designed to push our students out of their comfort zone. This is also why Amma’s talk was such a great fit for us at Higher Ed Experts.

This interview was posted before the keynote, but I figured out what Amma said still holds true if you skip the first question 🙂

Amma, your keynote at eduWeb is going to be about creativity. Can you tell us a bit more about this talk?

Amma MarfoIn the past several years, we’ve started to realize that higher education has reached, several types of inflection points in terms of the population it’s serving, the utility it has in the market and what people feel like they can get from the experience.

What this has taught me is that we need to start looking at how we solve problems, how we approached individuals and how we sell the value proposition of the higher education experience – at every point of the experience. I’m trying to share that message with people and I think those working in digital communication have a huge opportunity to put that information out first. So, what types of challenges need to be overcame in those spaces, what mindset can be put into place to help think about solving those problems, a little bit differently.

That’s what I’m hoping to address in my keynote at eduWeb.

If you do come to the talk, you’ll have a little bit of work to do. It won’t just be me speaking: you’ll get to talk to one another, you’ll get to complete activities and it’ll be just as much an opportunity for me to share some of my knowledge with you as it’ll be one for you to share your knowledge with one another. So, get ready to do a little bit of something and not just be mere attendees, but actual active participants.

How do you define creativity? How do you see it and do you think it’s really making a big difference?

The best definition of creativity that I’ve seen is “the ability to connect existing ideas or existing concepts in new ways.”

It’s not to say that any of us, on our campuses, are going to invent things that no one has ever seen before, but we’re going to take new resources, new mindsets, new perspectives, and connect those in ways that we see products that might not have come about otherwise. I think about how creativity can work with technology in the future and the possibility of things being more automated and robotic with the rise of artificial intelligence.

But there’s still so many elements of the experience with individuals that we’re working with, and the experience we’re trying to build that computers can’t do yet. So, I think being able to equip people to fill in those gaps and do those things is going to make a difference.

As a speaker, an author, and a writer, I’m sure you rely a lot on creativity. Can you please give us a little tip to be more creative?

I think I’m always moving from one thing to the next. And, I’m always willing to try something new.

When I think about the opportunities that I’ve had in the digital communication space, working in marketing and social media, so much of that came, because I wasn’t afraid to try something that everybody else in my office was a little bit nervous about. I would just say: “you know what, let’s just jump in and see what happens!”

That willingness to explore new things and figure out how they work is the right thing to do and yes, it doesn’t go right every single time. After doing that for several years, I still get it wrong every now and again, but I always learn from those moments.

Being able to empower other people to build environments for them or the people they’re collaborating with or might be responsible for so they can have that space to experiment and try new things — and, yes, make mistakes, that’s hugely important. That’s important to build environments where people can be creative in a group and not just creative individuals.

Do you think that higher education is an environment that is conducive to try new things, and sometimes fail, too?

I don’t think it is. I want it to be!. That’s why I’m so excited about being able to share this message in as many different spaces I can, because higher education, right now, is not great at it.

The fact that a lot of things in higher education look really similar to how they did 100, 200 or even 300 years ago in some cases, that’s indicative that we have to start looking at things differently. The population that higher education is serving is different now and incorporating all of those changes in our work is really key if we want to stand a chance of still being important in 20 years, 50 years or 100 years

We’re at the point now where things have to change in higher education. I hope that having this conversation will bring people to that space and help them start going from: “all right, we need to change” to “what can we do to actually change?”

Meet the Faculty: Karine Joly

Higher Ed Experts is a professional online school for digital professionals working in universities and colleges.

When you take a professional certificate course with us, you get a chance to upgrade your skills by working on your projects, interacting with classmates just like you and getting detailed personalized feedback from your instructor.

karine_joly_sep2013Karine Joly founded Higher Ed Experts in April 2007 and teaches Higher Ed Expert’s 8-week online course on Social Media Marketing for Higher Education.

She oversee the development of the professional development curriculum for the school. She shares her insights about emerging web and social media trends on collegewebeditor.com, a popular and independent blog launched in February 2005. She also authors the Internet Technologies column for University Business. Karine has presented on social media marketing, web analytics and online courses at leading higher ed conferences (CASE, American Marketing Association, EduComm, eduWeb, CUPRAP, HighEdWeb, PSEweb, UB Tech, etc.).

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