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VET Fast 5 - Lauren Hollows on Creativity

July 20, 2018

Lauren Hollows is the founder and CEO of Understand TAE. Having run RTOs from senior management positions for the better part of a decade, Lauren now uses her extensive experience to deliver professional consultation to RTOs looking to develop their internal capacity — both from a regulatory and training view. 

1. What’s the most overrated topic in education right now?

I think online education is still vastly overrated. While it’s a great tool when done well, there are far too many providers throwing a PDF up online and calling it ‘online education’, justifying it as self-study.

There are some amazing benefits to online education. Personally, I'm addicted to TED Talks and actively engage in online training, however, I think it takes a highly motivated individual to make it work. I think we also need to be careful not to undervalue the role of the trainer: trainers and teachers cannot—and will never— be replaced by AI or technology. Technology is just another effective tool.

At its heart, education is a process of growth. Growth can only occur when there is a desire to do so, and with many, many learners, that desire needs help to grow and overcome the negative self-talk that many learners experience. Trainers are counsellors, teachers, coaches, mentors, and the spark that lights the fire.

Online education has the capacity to support, enhance, and expand the ability of educators to get their message out there, but I don't think it’s the sole answer to education for the masses.

2. Does technology motivate creativity?

I think my rant above gives an indicator of my answer here: no.

Creativity is an innately human capacity. I think technology is one of the many expressions of creativity and is a powerful tool for the dissemination of creativity, but it's not a chicken and egg scenario. Creative individuals can utilise technology, but technology does not create creative individuals.

What I do love about technology is that it can serve as a powerful tool to enhance one’s message, to extend its reach and share an idea with a far wider audience. Ken Robinson’s video Do schools kill creativity? has been seen by millions of people and affected millions of educators, thanks to technology. However, we also need to be careful; it’s also a tool that can kill creativity.

There’s a generation of kids being raised at the moment who are in danger of losing their creativity, and there's a growing body of evidence that technology and our over-reliance on it is inhibiting creativity and our ability to communicate (a key component to creativity).

In fact, some would argue that we have more access to information and people today than ever in history, yet our ability to communicate and innovate is on the decline. Just like the overabundance of food in western cultures has led to a decline in health and longevity, the overabundance of information may be killing our intelligence and ability to innovate. There's a strong argument to get back to our roots a little, to get back to the meat and veg and good conversation around the dinner table for a healthy body and mind!

3. What app can’t you live without?

I'm probably a little addicted to social media; I use LinkedIn as the primary medium to get my message out there along with YouTube and the like. Additionally, email and such all go through my phone.

Lately I have been trying to limit technology time, but I do like to have 2-3 puzzle games on my phone at any point in time. When I get overwhelmed with students, clients, or staff, I pull out a puzzle and turn my brain off for a few minutes.

And I also love my music, so those apps are great.

4. What events from your own experience as a learner have informed your approach to your work in education?

I honestly can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't studying something. At the moment I am training as a volunteer firefighter, so we have a range of modules I need to complete for that. Additionally, I’m working through my Diplomas of VET, TAE and Auditing, and I engage with professional development a few hours a week, either through working with my network of amazing professionals or through online learning.

For me, if I am not learning, I am withering; it's part of the lifeblood that keeps me going as a businesswoman, wife, parent, and human being. The most inspiring people I have seen and met have been driven by the motivation to grow and to share knowledge.

I think education is the solution to everything: war, famine, you name it. Education provides the opportunity to grow, to change, to understand parts of ourselves and others. If we valued education and educators as much as we did wealth and fame, our society, our planet, would be a lot better off.

5. Which actor would play you in the movie about your life?

Haha, well I love Drew Barrymore, so I will go with her, but I like to think that the most interesting parts of my life haven't happened yet (with the exception of my beautiful, amazing children).

I think my story is the same as most educators out there: a girl who loved to learn and wanted to help others do the same thing. It's not a blockbuster, but I love helping others, seeing those ‘aha’ moments in my staff, students, and children, and I wouldn't change that for fame or fortune.

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