Almost a year on since the move to emergency remote teaching, students and academics alike have hit peak screen fatigue. With both live classes and self-paced study happening online, how can we support students to engage in learning experiences that extend past the screen and into the real world?

This was the central concern behind Creative Practices and Methods, a postgraduate subject co-designed by Dr Barbara Doran (School of Transdisciplinary Innovation) and the Postgraduate Learning Design Team. In this subject, students build their ‘creative fitness’ by regularly experimenting with creative practices and tools across many professional domains and reflecting on which creative modes they work best in. 

Part of the ground-breaking Masters of Creative Intelligence and Strategic Innovation, this subject’s cohort was made up of busy professionals who are balancing learning around full-time jobs and want to directly apply what they learn in the workplace while studying. To meet these learners needs, we designed the Canvas site for Creative Practices and Methods around three principles: Personalized learning pathways, on-the-go learning, and a community of practice.

Personalised learning pathways

After a short onboarding module which introduces students to several frameworks for reflecting on their creative experiences, students begin trying new creative techniques and recording their results in a paper or digital journal. By organizing the remaining modules into suites of thematically similar techniques, students were essentially given a toolkit to explore and choose techniques from on a weekly basis. With a range of text-based, visual, and kinesthetic exercises each week, students could pick the techniques which match their preferred learning modality.

This consistent yet flexible structure was well-received by students, as evident in academic/student feedback.

There was a nice filling of gaps between the different exercises each student chose which made for good sandpit sessions and cross pollination of ideas… 100% said they would like to go back and do the others!

Barbara Doran

The course structure was fun, with the weekly formal sessions being more discussion, engagement and insights from learnings done in the pre-work.  Tools and methods were clear and straightforward to apply with applications both at work and in future subjects. 


On-the-go learning

All of the course’s learning materials were adapted by the Postgraduate Learning Design Team to be just as enjoyable to experience from a mobile device as they would be on a desktop computer. This was important because many of the creative methods and practices introduced in the course involve observing or taking action out in the world, where taking a computer would detract from the learning experience. By consistently formatting the activity associated with each creative technique, students could easily identify what they need to do on each page, and ditch the home study to complete the course from their phone when and where they want to.

The Canvas site was designed to be easy to use on mobile devices, encouraging active learning out in the world.

Community of practice

Being physically apart doesn’t mean you should have to learn on your own. The live and online ‘sandpit sessions’ for Creative Practices and Methods imbued an art-school mentality devoted to open sharing and generous feedback between peers. By coming together and sharing their creative outputs and reflections, students got the opportunity to see how others applied the creative techniques and developed an appreciation for the different creative personalities each of us inhabit.

Students have been able to extend this community of practice into their own work contexts:

For me, the course reminded me of the everyday senses, objects and experiences that can be so easy to overlook, but such a rich source of creative inspiration to build your creative practice, or introduce more creativity into how you operate. I now incorporate some of the exercises into my practice, and feel more attuned to how creativity works for me (or how I work for it…) in my work.


One of our key learnings from designing this course is that online learning doesn’t mean always sitting in front a of a computer. Like all good learning, it can take you out into the world to actively explore, observe, apply, experiment, collaborate.

Dr Doran and the Postgraduate Learning Design Team are now preparing to launch a microcredential version of this course for public enrolment – Creative Intelligence Catalyser. If you are interested in learning more about this microcredential, visit the enrolment page on UTS Open.

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