Saturday, November 22, 2014

Innovating pedagogy

Innovation MK II by Vermin Inc, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Vermin Inc

If you want to get an idea about how education and learning are changing I can recommend that you read the Open University's report Innovating pedagogy 2014. It is their third annual report and is now becoming a much awaited publication on the latest pedagogical trends.

This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This third report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. To produce it, a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University proposed a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. We then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in post-school education. Lastly, we drew on published and unpublished writings to compile the ten sketches of new pedagogies that might transform education.

This year's report includes the following concepts, each described in detail with references to practice and theory.
  • Massive open social learning. How do we add the social element to MOOCs and other forms of open learning? Can we exploit features of gaming to increase the level of interaction?
  • Learning design informed by analytics. Learning design shifts the focus from content to learning processes. Can we tap into the potential of learning analytics to make more informed choices in course design?
  • Flipped classroom. This concept is already widely practiced but how does the flipped approach influence how the classroom and other learning spaces is designed?
  • Bring your own devices. This is also well established in many schools and colleges but how does this empowerment of students affect course design, classroom design and the relationship between teachers and students?
  • Learning to learn. The most valuable lesson is learning to be a self-determined learner who can find and filter information, form networks and critically assess sources. This is a long process and needs to be integrated in all subjects.
  • Dynamic assessment. Testing and intervention are intertwined and the teacher supports the student's learning by helping the student through the tests by means of hints and prompts. By following the students in the test teachers can see  what they have difficulty with and offering relevant follow-up.
  • Event-based learning. Creating educational activities around an event over a short period of time can allow for the creation of communities of interest where students can exchange ideas with people who they would never otherwise interact with. 
  • Learning through storytelling. Developing a narrative is part of the meaning-making process. By creating a story around even a scientific experiment students gain a deeper insight into processes and must find creative ways of representing the process using images, film, text and graphics.
  • Threshold concepts. Every subject has threshold concepts that once learnt fundamentally change the way you look at everything else. Focusing on these concepts are an excellent way of grabbing students' attention.
  • Bricolage. Learning by playing with the constituent parts, as a child builds new constructions from Lego pieces. Breaking down, building up, creating new concepts.
Many of these innovations rely on technology but the most important point is that the pedagogy is in the forefront and although technology is often, but not always, a prerequisite there is no specific mention of the tools or devices. Maybe we are at last moving away from lists of how the iPad/tablet/Chromebook is going to change education or how a certain tool will revolutionize your teaching. Instead we focus on pedagogical practice that fosters learning with the understanding that although technology plays a vital role these practices can also apply in face-to-face settings. 

Reference: Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller,
M., & Whitelock, D. (2014). Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open University Innovation Report 3.
Milton Keynes: The Open University.

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