Open University, ed-tech specialists say these 10 pedagogical innovations have massive potential

innovation-open-pedagogyYou may have heard about Flipped Learning, but what about Massive Open Social Learning (MOSL)? Threshold Concepts? Bricolage?

According to education technology experts at The Open University, a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the U.K., there are 10 innovations already in currency in higher education institutions today; they just haven’t had a profound influence…yet.

But that’s what 2015 is for.

Specifically, the report emphasizes that education can be dramatically enhanced by social networks. The so-called ‘network effect’ comes from thousands of people learning from each other, but it needs careful management to reach its full potential.

“Social networks have transformed entertainment from delivering books, radio and television programs into holding a global conversation. The same is about to happen with education through social learning,” said Mike Sharples, professor of Educational Technology at the OU and lead author of the Innovating Pedagogy report. “By its nature, we don’t know how this conversation will evolve. For instance, with on an online course with 10,000 learners, there are 50 million ways that pairs of them could connect directly.”

The list of innovations was compiled by a group of academics at the Institute of Educational Technology in the OU after proposing a long list of new educational terms, theories and practices. The group then pared these down to 10 that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in postsecondary education.

According to ed-tech specialists at the OU, these are the 10 pedagogical innovations poised to influence higher ed in 2015 and beyond:

(Next page: Innovations 1-5)

1. Massive Open Social Learning (MOSL): Aiming to explore the network effect, thousands of people interact online in productive discussions and the creation of shared projects to share experience and build on knowledge.

2. Learning design informed by analytics: Used in the development of courses or series of lessons to help educators plan a coherent sequence of media, tech and pedagogies, the use of learning design tools shifts attention away from content towards the learners’ needs. According to the report, data from tracking and management of learning activities can inform learning design by providing “evidence to support the choice of media and sequence of activities. When analysis of learning data is also used to evaluate and improve learning design, the circle is complete.”

3. Flipped classroom: Reverses the traditional classroom approach to teaching and learning by moving direct instruction into the learner’s own space through video lectures. This allows time in class to be spent on activities that exercise critical thinking and conversation.

4. BYOD: Bring-Your-Own-Device allows “teachers to become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge,” says the report. This approach also has the potential to “reduce cost of IT provisions,” but schools must have the infrastructure and bandwidth necessary—still a challenge for many institutions.

5. Learning to learn: Central to this process is what the report says is “double-loop learning,” or working out how to solve a problem and reach a goal, but also reflect on that process as a whole, questioning assumptions and considering how to become more effective. “This helps them to become self-determined learners with the ability to seek out sources of knowledge and make use of online networks for advice and support,” explains the report.

(Next page: Innovations 6-10)

6. Dynamic assessment: This focuses on the progress of the student, with the assessor interacting with students during the testing phase of the process and identifying ways to overcome each individual’s learning difficulties—assessment and intervention are inseparable.

7. Event-based learning: Running over a few hours or days, this type of learning creates “a memorable sense of occasion,” notes the report. Examples include ‘maker fairs’ of do-it-yourself STEM projects and crafts.

8. Learning through storytelling: According to the report, developing a narrative is part of a process of meaning-making in which the narrator structures a series of events from a particular point of view in order to create a meaningful whole—a structure that helps learners to embed and revisit their learning. An example includes writing up an experiment, reporting on an inquiry, analyzing a period of history, etc.

9. Threshold concepts: “Something that, when learned, opens up a new way of thinking about a problem or a subject of the world,” explains the report. One example includes the physics concept of heat transfer that can inform everyday activities such as cooking or home energy use.

10. Bricolage: A practical process of learning through tinkering with materials, and involves continual transformation. The report states that this is a basis for creative innovation, “allowing inventors to combine and adapt tools and theories to generate new insights, while also engaging with relevant communities to ensure that the innovation works in practice and in context.”

The report, “Innovating Pedagogy 2014,” is the third report in the OU’s Innovation Report Series. For the full report, click here.

For more information on the series, click here.


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