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Building creativity: collaborative learning and creativity in social media environments

Kylie A. Peppler (Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)
Maria Solomou (Doctoral student in the Learning Sciences Program at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 February 2011




Using a systems‐based approach to creativity and a sociocultural constructionist approach to learning, this study aims to highlight how creative ideas emerge within a community and spread amongst its members.


Using a design‐based approach to research, this study took place within the social media environment, Quest Atlantis. Chat data were collected from 85 participants and screenshots were taken of the virtual architecture designed and built by players in the Quest Atlantis environment, in an effort to explore the nature of creativity and collaborative learning within the context of virtual 3D architectural construction.


The findings illustrate the rise and spread of creativity in online communities and also point to the social and cultural nature of creativity.

Research limitations/implications

This study, the first of its kind, focuses on how creativity operates within a single community in order to draw implications about digital creativity more broadly.

Practical implications

Implications for designing virtual and physical communities to promote creativity are discussed.


Documenting and analyzing an entire creative system in the everyday world can be a challenging endeavor. Social media, by contrast, offer an opportunity to document, describe, and analyze creativity, extend Csikszentmihalyi's work into the realm of social media and push back on current conceptions of digital creativity.



Peppler, K.A. and Solomou, M. (2011), "Building creativity: collaborative learning and creativity in social media environments", On the Horizon, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 13-23.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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