Ten innovations for teaching, learning and assessment

Ten innovations that have the potential to provoke real change in pedagogy are explored in new report.

A report produced by The Open University in collaboration with the Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE), University of Bergen, Norway, explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment.

It reviews ten innovations that will have profound influence and impact on education.

  1. Playful learning

Playful learning focuses on the process more than the outcome. There are many different ways to support playful learning. Play provides an important contrast to an increasing focus on memorisation, testing, and performance in education, all of which reduce opportunities for active exploration.

  1. Learning with robots

Conversations that facilitate and enable learning are an essential part of education. Skilled teachers engage in frequent conversations with their learners. Intelligent software assistants and robots can help. Robots are also becoming capable of learning through interaction and conversation with a human tutor.

  1. Decolonising learning

As education has become increasingly global, communities have challenged the widespread assumption that the most valuable knowledge and the most valuable ways of teaching and learning come from a single European tradition. Decolonising learning helps us to recognise, understand, and challenge the ways in which our world is shaped by colonialism. It also prompts us to examine our professional practices. It is an approach that includes indigenous knowledge and ways of learning, enabling students to explore themselves and their values and to define success on their own terms.

  1. Drone-based learning

Learners can use drones to look inside inaccessible places or to see a landscape from different angles. Using drones, students can collect data in places that would otherwise be difficult or dangerous to access. The use of drones helps learners to develop new skills, including planning routes and interpreting visual clues in the landscape. Drone-based learning also stimulates valuable discussion around how emerging technologies can be used responsibly in learning spaces beyond the classroom.

  1. Learning through wonder

A wondrous event, such as seeing a brilliant rainbow or a majestic mountain waterfall, creates an experience that provokes interest and curiosity. Such wondrous encounters motivate learners to see a phenomenon from many different perspectives. Teachers can include wonder in learning activities through magic shows, object lessons, nature tables, cabinets of curiosities, and outdoor quests, as well as through literature that evokes a sense of wonder.

  1. Action learning

A team-based approach to professional development that addresses real and immediate problems. The approach was developed for workplace learning and is now being used more widely. Its aims are to improve existing skills and to solve problems that are significant to those taking part. Learners work in small groups with a trained facilitator. The groups contain a diverse set of people with different interests and experiences. Each learner introduces a problem or issue of concern. By meeting regularly and sharing different perspectives, group members find and apply solutions. In order to do this, they ask questions, share experiences, and reflect on their actions.

  1. Virtual studios

Virtual studios are not simply an online version of physical studios. They have their own educational value and offer new possibilities. A globally distributed design, specification, and fabrication studio is no longer an impossibility – it is a probable future for design practice as well as education. Commercial examples have already been established. It is now important that educators reflect on how to make best use of this emerging technology.

  1. Place-based learning

Place-based learning considers location to be a trigger for learning and an active part of how people learn. It is an approach that involves looking for learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment to inspire learners. It can support learning about a wide range of subjects, including Culture and History, Geography and Science. Mobile technologies are opening up new opportunities for place-based learning. They offer a sophisticated set of tools that can be used to support study outside the classroom. They also provide opportunities for adding virtual information to physical settings.

  1. Making thinking visible

Learning becomes more effective when students can visualise their thinking. This can include setting goals, writing down the steps when solving a problem, and making annotations. Making thinking visible fits with a view of learning as a constructive activity. Technology-enhanced assessment prompts students to show their working as they solve problems and receive automated feedback. Visible records of students’ personal and social learning can become resources for reflection. Teachers can see how each student is progressing towards mastery of a topic and can identify where students are blocked or have misunderstood a topic

  1. Roots of empathy

Roots of Empathy is a classroom programme designed to teach children empathy. It prepares children aged 5 to 13 to interact with others healthily and constructively. It also prepares them to cope with different relationships in their lives. This programme is based on the principle that when children understand how they feel and how other people feel, they find it easier to cope in social situations. In order to help them to do this, Roots of Empathy develops their emotional understanding.

The Innovating Pedagogy reports are intended for teachers, policy makers, academics, and anyone interested in how education may change over the next ten years. The full report can be downloaded here.