Creative Brief - Choose a Topic

Finding a Topic

The secret for finding a great topic resides in one magic place: the brain of the creator. Unfortunately, there's no potion that automatically makes this magic happen, but brainstorming might help you conjure a topic. Try out The Idea Machine and read some tips for brainstorming, both located on this page.

The Idea Machine - Topic Ideas

The Idea Machine is a possibility pool that might help you get into the Flow of brainstorming. Click through the ideas either randomly or consecutively to get ideas that might help you set a vision for what you want to accomplish with learners. If the ideas create sparks for you, return to the Learning Gap phase to input your Vision.

or click through all 20 Ideas

Tips for Brainstorming

Additionally, you might find a few tips helpful. Use what works for you.

Follow the Flow of your Ideas
At this stage, it's best not to badger yourself too much. If it doesn't feel right to start with a topic, perhaps you're better off starting by identifying the Learning Gap or putting together a "What-If Inventory." These are the other two pieces to the front end design that come to make the Creative Brief. If you'd rather explore your curriculum, students, and your goals for their learning, start with the "Learning Gap." If you work best by assembling all the resources you have available and seeing what sparks fly, then go for the "What-If Inventory."

Skip the Naysaying
It doesn't do to be too practical at this point. To get into a brainstorming flow, accept all ideas even if some don't seem so great because they might lead to a terrific topic. Since our minds work by association when we do this kind of thinking, editing and critiquing at this stage only cuts off potential ideas. Later, there's plenty of time to fuss over the logistics.

Live in the Land of Why Not
As you will see in the "What-If Inventory," we often don't look with wide enough eyes. Too often the nature of teaching prompts us to think in routine ways: a specified curriculum, compartmentalized time frames, segmented subject matter. Many of the most rewarding teaching experiences happen when we open the doors to the real world. So take this time to explore what you wish you could be teaching, in the way you want, using ideal resources. Successful grants, win-win partnerships, and special programs are often grow from the seeds of a ripe idea.

Bump up the Size of the Topic
The best topics seem to be large enough that you, the designer, have some wiggle room to discover what's most interesting. For example, look at the unit level (The Civil War), not the activity level (the Battle of Bull Run). This will make it more likely for you to come across some really interesting Web sites that will add to the robustness of your activity.

Ready to Test your Topic?
When you think you've got a possible topic, see if it matches up to our 5 Ways to Know you've got a good Topic.


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© 1999 tom march
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