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This week Fred O'Loughlin from HEFi talks about the latest in a series of reports by the Open University, examining innovations that are having a big impact on education.

Innovating Pedagogy 2019

Ten innovative pedagogies were selected by academics working collaboratively from both the Institute of Educational Technology in The Open University, and the Centre for the Science of Learning and Technology in Norway. Following a literature review and consideration of their own experience, the contributors then shortlisted ten, not all of which are new, but do appear to be growing in significance. The following gives a summary of each of the ten pedagogies listed. The full report can be found here.

1. Playful learning

Playful learning is increasingly being seen as advantageous for all ages, and can be supported by imagination, mobile applications and video games. As well as helping to engage learners, this also affords the opportunity to develop skills such as problem solving, and to foster values such as curiosity.

2. Learning with robots

Self-assembly robots are becoming more affordable. There are some more obvious implications for STEM subjects, but robots can also be used in other contexts - such as in areas relating to communication, for example, language learning. Robots could also have potential for automation.

3. Decolonising learning

Ensuring the inclusivity of learning is an ongoing process. Education has historically allowed some groups to exert power over others, and there is a danger that this can inadvertently carry into digital structures. Yet technology can also be used to challenge colonialism. Examples from the report include using computer games as talking points.

4. Drone-based learning

Aside from the negative ability to interfere with air-traffic, drones also have positive implications for providing new visual perspectives. There are examples of drones being used to catalogue environmental change, review heritage sites, and assist with sports training. Drones themselves give the opportunity to discuss ethical, safety and privacy issues, as well as route planning and programming.

5. Learning through wonder

Deliberately incorporating into the curriculum opportunities for learners to experience wonder can provide a powerful motivation to further investigation. This is especially true when the first impression of a topic is one of wonder. Examples from the report include framing familiar topics in a new way, or provoking a sense of mystery and intrigue when introducing new topics.

6. Action learning

Action learning takes a small group, gives them a real world problem to work on collaboratively, and then invites them to reflect on the solution. It engages learners by encouraging them to draw on their own experience, and the authentic nature of this can make the benefits of the learning outcomes more tangible.

7. Virtual studios

Online working environments can help to make learning more collaborative and flexible. For example, a tutor can easily review work and learners can share their progress with one another. Virtual Studios have originated from art and design contexts but the approach is also increasingly being used in other contexts.

8. Place-based learning

Incorporating the physical location into education can help to ground learning as something personal and relevant. This is already a well-established idea, but mobile technologies such as Bluetooth, image-sharing and geolocation are enabling new ways to engage with local environments.

9. Making thinking visible

Finding ways to help learners visualise their learning allows for a greater sense of structure and clarity on progress, as well as making instructor feedback more targeted. There are digital tools which have the potential to scaffold questions to a greater scale and efficiency than traditional means.

10. Roots of empathy

Roots of Empathy has focused on school level children between 5 and 13. The idea here is to foster empathy among children by regular visits from a local parent with a baby. It is less developed for a HE context, yet it could be considered an example of an innovative solution.

Further Reading

Ferguson, R., Coughlan, T., Egelandsdal, K., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Hillaire, G., Jones, D., Jowers, I.,
Kukulska-Hulme, A., McAndrew, P., Misiejuk, K., Ness, I. J., Rienties, B., Scanlon, E., Sharples, M., Wasson,
B., Weller, M. and Whitelock, D. (2019). Innovating Pedagogy 2019: Open University Innovation Report 7.
Milton Keynes: The Open University.

You can discuss the report on the Big Conversation Blog.