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Adventures in China

Apr 23, 2014 By Crissy Campbell

Two faculty members, Patrick Pennefather and Bill Zhao, are visiting China this month, touring 4 cities in 8 days. Crystal Institute of Digital Education, a professional education institute based in Beijing, invited Patrick Pennefather to speak at an event for their students, industry partners and the government to talk about the future of creativity.

Since the theme is creativity and innovation, Patrick decided to show off what we do at the Centre for Digital Media and in the Master of Digital Media program—focusing on the collaborative problem solving skills we develop and the benefits of project-based learning. Patrick’s presentation also encourages attendees to think about teaching and learning in a new way that also invites conversations with industry to inform the design of learning. (Patrick is currently writing an ebook on these topics. Read an excerpt of Disrupting the Classroom).

Here’s Patrick Pennefather’s account of their trip—including tech failures, packed conference rooms and his new found stardom in China.


Imagine a packed conference/theatre/sports-style hall where 10 minutes before going on the tech is still not working. Here's a before and after. 


Conference theatre in China


Packed conference theatre in China

In Beijing, the organization and turn out for my presentation on “Disrupting Creativity” was overwhelming. Over 700 people packed in, representing government, industry and education in the city, and of course the students. The audience was attentive and responded well to my antics such as throwing balls out to the audience to get the energy moving.

Chinese audience interaction

Bill provided an excellent translation and helped translate my spontaneous impulse to do a massive selfie (ze pai) from the stage.

Patrick Pennefather's selfie in China

Hidden behind my head sits the Minister of Information who introduced me. The presentation was great overall with some minor hiccups but I showed off the uniqueness of the CDM, our awesome students and some of the work that we have done. The power point presentation was projected on an LED screen and looked like this:

Why teach creative principles

Afterwards, I was swarmed by a posse of students wanting pictures and...autographs??? 

Patrick signing autographs in China

I believe they enjoyed the presentation!