Digital Creative Writing Communities (DCWC)
Creative writing can encourage critical thinking, increase reading comprehension, inspire innovative thinking, increase problem-solving skills, and help with producing more reasoned analyses. However, due to the lack of attention to creative pursuits in formal curricula, training opportunities for teachers and other educators, as well as the time necessary to implement it properly, creative writing is rarely used as an approach in teaching outside of private education and costly courses.
The COVID-19 crisis has further limited options for young people, youth workers, teachers, and other educators. These obstacles are the reason educators in non-formal and formal education alike are missing out on key learning benefits for young people, even when dealing with subjects and topics seemingly unrelated to non-technical forms of literature and creativity, such as history, politics, economics, and even natural sciences.
This project answers the need for easily accessible, open-source, and structured creative writing teaching and learning resources and builds a bridge between youth work, creative and IT organizations. We will provide support for youth workers, teachers, and other educators in offering young people an accessible and engaging way to improve their skills and explore their creativity through the following project results:
A methodological manual
The creative writing methodological manual developed through this project is an open education resource intended for use by youth workers, trainers, teachers, and other educators in teaching secondary level students, as well as young individuals. The manual is modular, offering different lecture levels for writing narrative forms or essays, features focus on teaching either beginners or advanced learners, and accounts for three types of learning - guided learning with an educator, peer-to-peer learning in a group, and self-directed learning.
The goals of the manual are:
- to encourage learners to write
- to increase learners' awareness of the processes of concept development, writing, and editing
- to facilitate teaching on how to narrate and substantiate claims through argument building
- to enable learners to discover their writing style and own writing processes through practice
- to offer learners the tools to analyze their own and others' work
- to encourage reflection on relevant topics and contexts in which writing takes form
- to encourage sharing of ideas, developing a critical perspective of own and others' work, offering and receiving constructive feedback
- to open up the perspective for further growth for prospective young authors
In order to achieve these goals and remain accessible to different types of users, the manual will be useable as an interactive network of content, rather than a linearly structured
An implementation toolkit
The process of creative writing is aided by analytical and critical approaches to own and other authors' texts. In order to improve learners' skills, they have to be able to critically approach literary works and essays in order to be able to identify improvement areas. In teaching creative writing in non-formal environments, this key part of the process is often severely or completely underserved because it necessitates educators to amass a collection of texts and exercises they can use with their students that correspond to the learners' level of knowledge and their specific needs. Further, these texts need to be critically analyzed, which makes the process of preparing for creative writing implementation highly time-consuming. This is why educators recognize teaching creative writing as a labor-intensive endeavor and difficult to implement for educators with no support in terms of formal training or materials, with modest results.
This output is aimed at youth workers, trainers, and teachers looking to either carry out a comprehensive creative writing workshop or blend creative writing approaches with other teaching methods when needed. It will provide them with the necessary materials and support analysis ready to be used in the classroom/ non-formal learning environments.
A digital learning environment
In our experience, project-produced publications are massively underused. Outputs developed as non-interactive, bulky pdf files or printed publications do not attract users, which is why we decided to take an approach more suitable to the technological options we have available to maximize the attractiveness of our outputs. Similarly, rudimentary websites fail to properly showcase the quality of project outputs, leading to low user engagement and project outputs remaining unused after projects run out. This is why we're building an interactive platform, allowing this project and its results to truly reach their target audience.
The project consortium includes Croatian Debate Society (Croatia), Mladinski obrazoven forum (North Macedonia), Udruga za promicanje kultura Kulturtreger - Booksa (Croatia), Estonian Debating Society (Estonia), Learning Wizard (Croatia), and IDEA.
DCWC is an Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project funded by the European Union.