The Innovative Pedagogy 2017 report explores new forms of teaching and learning in a digital world, and looks at 10 innovations that have not yet influenced post-school education. This is the sixth annual report produced by the Open University in the UK. This year the report was produced in collaboration with the Learning In a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). The 10 innovations are listed in the order of possible widespread adoption.
- Spaced learning: It is known that we learn facts better in a series of short chunks with gaps between them, rather than in a long teaching session such as a lecture. Recent research in neuroscience has uncovered the detail of how we produce long-term memories. This has led to a teaching method of spaced repetition that occurs in the following order: (1) a teacher gives information for 20 minutes; (2) students take a break of 10 minutes to participate in an unconnected practical activity such as aerobics or modelling; (3) students are asked to recall key information for 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute break; and (4) students apply their new knowledge for a final 20 minutes. A study of spaced learning shows a significant increase in learning compared to a typical lesson.
- Learners making science: Citizens need the skills and knowledge to solve problems, evaluate evidence, and make sense of complex information from
various sources. A strong understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Maths (STEM) topics can develop these skills. Enabling learners to experience how Science is made can enhance their content knowledge. It can also develop scientific skills, contribute to their personal growth, and result in identity change and an increased understanding of what it means to be a scientist. These changes can be achieved through participation and contribution to citizen science activities that are personally relevant, promote engagement with both social and natural sciences and scaffold understanding of the scientific method, critical thinking, and reflection.
- Open textbooks: Open textbooks are freely shareable and editable resources
designed to operate in place of a specified textbook. As one approach to open educational resources (OER), they are not locked down by copyright restrictions but have an open licence that enables everyone to reuse, remix, revise, redistribute and retain them. These books are adaptable – not fixed and static resources but dynamic ones. Students can edit and amend an open textbook as part of their study. This helps them to understand knowledge as an ongoing process in which they play an active role. These textbooks can be seen as part of a broader move towards ‘open pedagogy’, which emphasises open content and open practices.
- Navigating post-truth societies: Fake news and information bubbles are not
new but awareness of their impact on public opinion has increased. People
need to be able to evaluate and share information responsibly. One response
is to integrate these skills within the curriculum. However, how can we know which sources to trust? The ways in which people think about such questions are called ‘epistemic cognition’. Researchers have developed ways of promoting learners’ epistemic cognition. These include promoting understanding of the nature of knowledge and justification as well as fostering abilities to assess the validity of claims and form sound arguments.
- Intergroup empathy: Online environments, such as social media, form global virtual spaces. In these, people from different backgrounds interact with each other, even if they come from countries or cultures that are engaged in conflict. This means that skills such as communication, teamwork, and empathy are important. An ‘us’ versus ‘them’ perspective makes it difficult to empathise – to understand and share the feelings of members of the other group. The effects of intergroup conflicts can spill over into online communities, provoking strong negative emotions and the use of stereotypes. In such cases, activities designed to promote intergroup empathy can provide effective responses and help to reduce tensions.
- Immersive learning: Learning based on experience and exploration can be
intensified through immersion. It can enable people to experience a situation
as if they were there, deploying their knowledge and resources to solve a
problem or practise a skill. The learning comes from integrating vision, sound,
movement, spatial awareness, and even touch. By using technologies such as virtual reality, 3D screens or handheld devices, learners can experience immersive learning in a classroom, at home, or outdoors. This enables them to explore possibilities that would be difficult, dangerous, or impossible in everyday life.
- Student-led analytics: Learning analytics make use of the data generated during study activity in order to enhance learning and teaching. They often focus on how teachers and institutions can help learners to pass a test, a module, or a degree. Student-led analytics, on the other hand, not only invite students to reflect on the feedback they receive but also start them on the path of setting their own learning goals. These analytics put learners in the driving seat. Learners can decide which goals and ambitions they want to achieve, and which types and forms of learning analytic they want to use to achieve those targets. The analytics then support learners to reach their goals.
- Big-data inquiry: thinking with data: New forms of data, data visualisation and human interaction with data are changing radically and rapidly. As a result, what it means to be ‘data literate’ is also changing. In the big data era, people should no longer be passive recipients of data-based reports. They need to become active data explorers who can plan for, acquire, manage, analyse, and infer from data. The goal is to use data to describe the world and answer puzzling questions with the help of data analysis tools and visualisations. Understanding big data and its powers and limitations is important to active citizenship and to the prosperity of democratic societies. Today’s students therefore need to learn to work and think with data from an early age, so they are prepared for the data driven society in which they live.
- Learning with internal values: Throughout life, significant learning is triggered, monitored, and owned by us as individuals. This learning is rooted in our own needs and interests and shaped by our internal values. However, schools and a national curriculum need to conform to a set of external values. These are unlikely to align exactly with the learning that is based on individual students’ internal values. Efforts have been made to design and develop programmes that can meet this challenge. The main approach offers students choice about what and how they learn. At the same time, it equips them with means to develop appropriate knowledge, skills and ways of thinking in order to support their learning. This approach balances the learning based on students’ internal values with the learning that is required by the normative values of educational systems.
- Humanistic knowledge-building communities: The goal of humanistic education is to help people become open to experience, highly creative, and self-directed (person-centred). Knowledge-building communities aim to advance the collective knowledge of a community (idea-centred). When the two approaches are combined, they create a new one: humanistic knowledge-building communities. Students can develop their knowledge and selves in integrated and transformative ways.
Ferguson, R., Barzilai, S., Ben-Zvi, D., Chinn, C.A., Herodotou, C., Hod, Y., Kali, Y., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Kupermintz, H., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Sagy, O., Scanlon, E., Sharples, M., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2017). Innovating Pedagogy 2017: Open University Innovation Report 6. Milton Keynes: The Open University, UK.