Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Creativity For National Transformation In Nigeria

EDITOR’S NOTE: This section of this Blog was titled "BUILDING A CREATIVE NATION" before now. However to reflect the new project this Blog is embarking on, we are renaming the Blog page "CREATIVITY FOR NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION IN NIGERIA."

In this first post, the Publisher explains details and ramifications of this project. The only point to be elucidated here is that the Blog promoters are going to utilize their experience in the learning sciences to advance the project outcomes and multiply its impact.

Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. Learning sciences researchers are working to design more effective learning environments – including school classrooms, and also informal settings such as science centres or after-school clubs, on-line distance learning, and computer-based tutoring software. NAIJGRAPHITTI Blog is thus positioned as an informal learning environment for CREATIVITY and INNOVATION related topics for after-school activities, on-line distance learning, and computer-based tutoring.

By Kenneth Nwachinemelu David-Okafor

I am fully convicted that mass competencies in creativity, creative leadership and problem solving proficiency among all strata of society should form the next phase of development for Nigeria’s learning curve on the pathway to mature, sustainable nationhood. Without embracing accessible, qualitative education infused with teaching creativity (and the full breadth of its related concepts) while inculcating problem solving skills then Nigeria hardly will thrive.

After poring through 70 years of creativity related conceptualizations, theorizing and research my discoveries challenged me on a personal level, for a variety of reasons.

One of my most important conclusions:

Nigeria has not prioritized creativity development as an educational objective while the Nigeria’s education system and curriculum are not tooled for inculcating creativity, creative thinking and problem solving competencies in learners for the 21st century.

The above findings are part of a wide ranging investigation I am involved with. Based on action research, multidisciplinary research outcomes (using retrospective studies, comparative analysis and direct observation) and exhaustive review of creativity and innovation literature, the work examines the effects of not teaching creativity (along with its related concepts), not facilitating innovation and the ramifications in wide ranging areas pertaining to Nigeria’s creative potential including socioeconomics, innovation systems, technical and vocational education, national inventiveness, cultural and creative industries, and productivity.

One of the most succinct description of Nigeria’s education system as far as creativity development is concerned is a Nigerian scholar, Dr Stephen Bolaji formerly of Department of Educational Foundations, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Epe, Lagos, Nigeria (now at Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia) in his 2007 Conference paper at the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA) conference presentation on Friday, December 7th 2007, in neighbouring New Zealand.
Source: Evolving Creativity in Nigeria Education: A Philosophy Paradigm (Bolaji, 2007)

In the abstract his paper, Evolving Creativity in Nigeria Education: A Philosophy Paradigm, Bolaji, wrote, "'The acquisition of appropriate creative skills, abilities and competence both mental and physical as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of the society' is one of the cardinal objectives of national policy on education by the Federal Government of Nigeria. It suffices to say, that the Nigeria educational system is presently at a cross-road, in a juxtaposed state, when compared with what is obtained (sic) in a developed nation. That the system is in a state of doldrums is not an understatement. This is a system that places premium on certification and theoretical epistemology [rather] than innate abilities."

Bolaji (2007) highlighted that scant scholastic and academic attention that Nigeria’s national policy on education avails to identifying, analyzing and promoting teaching strategies that actively nurture creativity in learners.

In the same paper, Bolaji (2007) concluded, "Creativity is not only about the development of innate ability, but also about development of skills borne out of constant practice or training. Therefore, teaching and learning processes that encourage memorization should be demystified or jettisoned. Skill acquisition through technical/vocational training should be giving a priority.

"It is a known fact that creativity leads to productivity and development in all tiers of national endeavour, so formal school systems should also be given due consideration, because expertise are needed for ideal governance and administration of a nation’s resources."

Thus I have chosen to become a "Creativity for National Transformation" advocate and I am now motivated to help Nigeria to achieve:

o   promoting the fostering of creativity for accelerated national/economic development and social change

o   facilitating the inculcation of mass competencies in creativity, creative leadership and problem solving proficiency amongst all strata of society through non-formal and informal learning platforms

o   teaching creative problem solving and inventive thinking skills to every Nigerian

o   qualitative and high-value education

o   empowering leadership for improved decision making and critical judgement

Recently I had the opportunity of writing on How Nigeria Can Increase Her Current GDP 38 Times (CLICK HERE).
The essence of that blog post was to draw attention to early child development and education as well as the promotion of the importance of mathematics, science and reading. In that post, I wrote on the findings of the report, titled 'Universal Basic Skills: What countries stand to gain', produced by two economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann commissioned by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which includes the biggest ever global school rankings, which rank 76 countries according to how well their students perform. The analysis is based on test scores in maths and science, and is an expansion on the OECD's PISA test scores. The report was published on May 13, 2015.

The key writers of the report of the OECD-funded global school rankings, Eric Hanushek from Stanford University and Ludger Woessmann from Munich University, say that education is a very important factor in the long term wealth of a country.

My main interest in the findings of this report is phrase education is a very important factor in the long term wealth of a country.

One of the most important statements in 'Universal Basic Skills: What countries stand to gain' is that "Poor education policies and practices leave many countries in what amounts to a permanent state of economic recession."

You may not have heard about the 3rd International Literary Colloquium organized to mark Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu’s 58th birthday, held at the Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna, Niger State when the then Governor who called himself the "Chief Servant" held sway.

In his presentation titled Nigeria Needs Intellectual Creativity to Enhance National Transformation and Economic Growth, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu asserted that Nigeria needs intellectual creativity to enhance National transformation and economic growth. He observed that the country had the highest number of educated people in Africa but had not impacted on the National transformation and economic growth, hence the need for creativity out of the youths who were the future leaders. He was of the view that formal education alone had no relevance in the reconstruction of the nation without the reading culture. The Governor lamented that Nigeria was lagging behind in the reading culture adding that no nation in the 21st century could get its socio-political, economic and technological advancement right if the educational status of her citizenry was jeopardized.

My own thinking is completely at variance with the position of the erstwhile "Chief Servant" and former Governor of Niger State.

I will indicate here what essential is precisely the kernel of "Creativity for National Transformation": Nigeria needs not only intellectual creativity but all-round creativity, creative thinking, problem solving and critical judgement in addition to competent, intentional leadership to enhance national transformation and economic growth!

In the long term, "Creativity for National Transformation" is a Launchpad for transitioning with ease into a wholesale "Knowledge Society" or knowledge based society (KBS) which has aided several countries of the world achieve clear social and economic transformation. Knowledge society "creates, disseminates and utilizes knowledge for improving standard of living and quality of life of the citizens in a sustainable manner" and such a transformation comes as a new phase of the move to information society. Transformation into knowledge-based economy (KBE) is inevitable for transition to knowledge society. In such an economy, growth depends on the factor of knowledge generation and utilization more than ever in human history.

Of course, we must mobilize for the concerted effort require for this change to happen.

We are seeking all those willing! Are you?

Friday, 29 January 2016

NEWS POST: Tools For Any Prospective Nigerian App Inventor

MIT App Inventor for Android
App Inventor for Android is an open-source web application originally provided by Google, and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
It allows newcomers to computer programming to create software applications for the Android operating system (OS). It uses a graphical interface, very similar to Scratch and the StarLogo TNG user interface, which allows users to drag-and-drop visual objects to create an application that can run on Android devices. In creating App Inventor, Google drew upon significant prior research in educational computing, as well as work done within Google on online development environments.
App Inventor and the projects on which it is based are informed by constructionist learning theories, which emphasizes that programming can be a vehicle for engaging powerful ideas through active learning. As such, it is part of an ongoing movement in computers and education that began with the work of Seymour Papert and the MIT Logo Group in the 1960s and has also manifested itself with Mitchel Resnick's work on Lego Mindstorms and StarLogo.
The application was made available through request on July 12, 2010, and released publicly on December 15, 2010. The App Inventor team was led by Hal Abelson and Mark Friedman. In the second half of 2011, Google released the source code, terminated its server, and provided funding for the creation of The MIT Center for Mobile Learning, led by App Inventor creator Hal Abelson and fellow MIT professors Eric Klopfer and Mitchel Resnick. The MIT version was launched in March 2012.
On December 6, 2013 (the start of the Hour of Code), MIT released App Inventor 2, renaming the original version "App Inventor Classic" Major differences are:
Open Blocks is distributed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP) and is derived from master's thesis research by Ricarose Roque. Professor Eric Klopfer and Daniel Wendel of the Scheller Program supported the distribution of Open Blocks under an MIT License. Open Blocks visual programming is closely related to StarLogo TNG, a project of STEP, and Scratch, a project of the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group. App Inventor 2 replaced Open Blocks with Blockly, a blocks editor that runs within the browser.
As of May 2014, were 87 thousand weekly active users of the service and 1.9 million registered users in 195 countries for a total of 4.7 million apps built.
As December 2015, had 140k weekly active users and 4 million registered users in 195 countries, nun total of 12 million built applications.
CLICK HERE TO START is a site for learning and teaching how to program mobile apps with MIT's App Inventor. These tutorials are refined versions of the tutorials that have been on the Google and MIT App Inventor sites from App Inventor's inception-- thousands of beginners have used them to learn programming and learn App Inventor.
This site is also designed for use by teachers. The teaching materials here have been used as a basis for numerous middle school, high school, and college courses. The course-in-a-box, which is based on Wolber's USF courses, provides structure and material to get a new course up and running within days.
Your guide in these pursuits is David Wolber, Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. Wolber began teaching App Inventor as part of Google's 2009 pilot program and has taught more App Inventor courses and workshops than any human alive. His USF course, "Computing, Mobile Apps, and the Web", has served as a model for teaching non-CS-majors and interesting them in computing. The apps created by his students -- mostly humanities and business majors with no prior programming experience -- have been chronicled in several articles shown below.
In 2010 Wolber received a grant from Google to work with the App Inventor team and author the original advanced tutorials that appear on the App Inventor site.
In 2011, Wolber's book App Inventor: Create your own Android apps was published by O'Reilly. In this book, Wolber teams with MIT Professor and App Inventor creator Hal Abelson as well as Ellen Spertus and Liz Looney from the App Inventor team. This book is available in paperback at Amazon and on-line for free here at
In 2012, Wolber was part of a collaborative project awarded a National Science Foundation TUES grant (Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM). The grant team, including USF, MIT (Abelson), Wellesley (Franklyn Turbak), UMass-Lowell (Fred Martin), and Trinity College (Ralph Morelli), is tasked with developing materials for teaching mobile programming to beginners.
In 2013, Wolber was awarded a Keck Foundation grant to initiate the Democratize Computing Lab at USF
In 2014, Wolber and his co-authors published an App Inventor 2 version of App Inventor: Create your own Android apps