Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 26, Issue 4–6, pp 423–452 | Cite as

What if it Switched on the Sun? Exploring Creativity in a Brainstorming Session with Children Through a Vygotskyan Perspective

  • Marianne Kinnula
  • Tonja Molin-Juustila
  • Iván Sánchez Milara
  • Marta Cortes
  • Jukka Riekki


We contribute in this study a first step in theory-based understanding on how creativity in collaborative design sessions relates to the elements that are present in a creative act. These elements include group composition, objects present, practices used, and previous knowledge of the participants. The context of this study was our search for lightweight methods for technology design with children, which can be used in a school context with large groups, will require as little amount of training as possible, and can be set up quickly. We formed a mixed group, consisting of young children, an older child and an adult, with the aim of involving children in creative collaborative brainstorming during the very early phases of design, so as to come up with fruitful ideas for technology development. We report our process and examine the implications of our results in relation to different elements that trigger and affect creativity in the collaborative design process. Use of Vygotsky’s cycle of creativity as our theoretical lens together with timeline analysis method presented in the paper were essential for seeing beneath the surface of what happened in this complex, collaborative creative process. Our results can be used for further methodological development of creative collaborative sessions, both with children and adults.


Brainstorming Creativity Design ideas Children Mixed-age group Timeline analysis School Genuine participation Empowerment 



We would like to thank the children, teachers, and university students who took part in this study, particularly Anne-Marie Oikarinen.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INTERACT Research Unit, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Center for Ubiquitous Computing, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical EngineeringUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

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