About this seminar
The focus of this Art of Teaching seminar will be Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning. Each week of this 3-week seminar will be launched with a selection and discussion from the Art of Teaching: Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning videos.
The first web conference will open with the question – what is inquiry learning and what are its various forms in our post-secondary programs? From this foundational question, we will analyze our first video vignette with the goal of identifying elements that might be adaptable to different contexts. The second and third web conferences will focus on a diversity of models and interpretations of inquiry learning using selected examples from the online videos.
All videos are available online for you to view at any time, and are accompanied by chapter summaries in PDF format.
About our facilitator
Neil Smith claims to be retired from Vancouver Island University but from what I have witnessed he is busier than ever! Neil was a Teaching Scholar with the university's Innovation and Excellence in Learning Centre and a member of the Faculty of Education. Neil's current teaching is in M.Ed. Leadership studies.
Participating in SCoPE seminars
SCoPE seminars are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. You are welcome to come and go according to your schedule and interests. To contribute you will need to create an account on the SCoPE site -- a quick process. Are you new to SCoPE or wondering how to manage your participation? Check this resource.
If you're a Diigo or Delicious user we can round up our resources pertaining to this seminar topic by using the tag 'SSinquiry' (SS stands for 'scope seminar'). In Diigo you may choose to share to the SCoPE group.
If you have any questions about participating in SCoPE don't hesitate to ask here in the forum, or get in touch with me directly:
Sylvia Currie, email@example.com skype:webbedfeat +1 250-318-2907
Pity that Sylvia. I was looking forward to another session. In the spirit of open education we could always examine the issue amongst ourselves? We are free-range learners so do we really need a 'presenter' at all?
In a few words, I see enquiry based learning as students as being involved in developing 'interpretations' rather than 'responses' to the social world. I apologise for not being able to attribute the source of the quote but to me it expresses it nicely.
Uni of Glasgow,
- define what we mean by inquiry (enquiry) learning
- share examples of how we engage students in inquiry learning
- build our library of resources related to inquiry learning
In a way it seems appropriate that we should not have a leader for an investigation on enquiry based learning doesn't it? ;) This way we are carrying out IBL as a way of looking into the same - i.e. experiential learning.
One of the issues for me is structure. How much and what kind of structure should we offer or put in place? Too much may constrain and too little may leave people struggling with process to the detriment of the focus. I guess a key question would be how should we addess the issue of structure?
I guess another issue in my mind is openness. In this kind of learning we can't have a set starting point and a set end-point. Known outcomes would defeat the whole idea of enquiry based learning wouldn't it?
One final point for now that might be of interest to this group/community could be the issue and role of technology. This could point to the online environment as it relates to EBL. It could, as in my own work, point to the network-mediated classroom. In either case there is an interesting issue of how and why would we use technology to support enquiry based learning.
How's that for starters? Can anyone develop these or any other points further?
Conventional computer books give you some combination of step-by-step tutorial on the rudiments of how something works and detailed reference guide. This is not a conventional book, because the XO is not a conventional computer...The usual way to teach information and ideas is to tell the student everything about the subject that is in the curriculum standard and the textbook, and to ignore serious questions that students raise...You will find the necessary information on XOs, Sugar, and education here and in places the book points you to (because anything published is necessarily out of date). But my purpose is not to tell you all that. It is to enable you to discover most of it yourself, and to help any children in your sphere of influence to use the XO for discovering the amazing, astounding, sometimes fun, sometimes catastrophic, but never mundane world they live in. And for discovering what they want to do in this amazing etc. world, and with whom.
One of the issues for me is structure. How much and what kind of structure should we offer or put in place? Too much may constrain and too little may leave people struggling with process to the detriment of the focus. I guess a key question would be how should we address the issue of structure? A number of us in the OER Movement and Foundation are working on something called the OER-U. It is still very much in the development phase but will probably have both a structured side that will enable university/college students to develop learning portfolios for transfer to colleges offering credit for prior learning and an less structured side for those wanting to do self-directed learning. Part of the international challenge is to develop fairly simple ways to do both or either. Wayne knows much more about this process, but I am sure you would be welcome to add your ideas.
I guess another issue in my mind is openness. In this kind of learning we can't have a set starting point and a set end-point. Known outcomes would defeat the whole idea of enquiry based learning wouldn't it? Many, if not most self-directed learning projects begin with a defined start point, learning objectives, a desired result, and ways of evaluation. Sometimes this is relatively unstructured. For instance, one of my current self-directed projects is to learn as much as I can about OER in order to be a useful participant in the global effort. By taking this online course I hope to add knowledge of creative commons and "copyleft" to my growing knowledge of the OER world. I will measure my success by whether I can "talk" intelligently with the rest of you without getting too confused. :-)
I can also imagine developing a credit (formal) or non-credit (non-formal) structured course that includes this online course, some kind of outside evaluation what I have learned, an indicator of successful completion and some way of keeping such credentials so I can use them professionally and/or translate them into formal academic credit.
I do such things as both a teacher and learner at my academic institution, State University of New York/Empire State College (US) which is working toward becoming the Open University of the State of New York (US) Empire State College has been doing these things for forty years.
Both forms of learning are legitimate and should be supported by our movement. Cheers. Joyce
Joyce, I think what you say is perfectly reasonable. Who is anyone to judge you anyway? I think the key thing I take from what you say is the idea of who determines the learning goals and the details of the activity.
For example, if I understand you correctly, you say that you are defining the structure and activities in your self-managed learning. So, on that basis would you agree that you are engaged in enquiry based learning that is under your own control, ownership etc.?
I guess it could be useful to have an overall framework provided for learners as a kind of orientation. Then within that 'shell' I suppose you might support learners to work under their own direction. SCoPE does that in my mind. They provide an environment and structure it with spaces to interact, resources and open sessions. Within that we are free to interpret and to exercise our interests broadly as we see fit.
One key point seems to be how people conceptualise their learning - either alone or together. For instance how do you understand or think about your use of those OER-U resources and how do you do that in relation to the use of this kind of setting? How we read opportunities and settings must surely influence how we act towards them.
Joyce, I guess from that OER perspective you are choosing the way you go about your learning. You have set the aims and resources to use as you see is appropriate. So, although the resources have set structures and *might* be regarded as quite closed for some applications they could equally be seen as very open if you work with them according to your own wider goals. To my mind that is indicative of characteristics of enquiry based learning. Would you see that as a fair view?
I would also say that the activity we are sharing at the moment is also enquiry based learning as we explore what it might mean together and to each of us individually.
So, I would think this might raise an additional question to all of us. That is, what issues and benefits do we see from engaging in enquiry based learning on our own and in collaboration with others?
Formal learning is evaluated by someone who accesses the learning (often through various forms of testing) and passes out rewards or punishments often in the form of "scores" or "grades".
There is sometimes a great dichotomy between the two types of learning. I have gotten "A's" in courses that were essentially useless and relatively poor grades in courses that I have found very useful...and most of my learning in life has been more-or-less self-directed, self-organized and self-directed.
For example, if I understand you correctly, you say that you are defining the structure and activities in your self-managed learning. So, on that basis would you agree that you are engaged in enquiry based learning that is under your own control, ownership etc.? In the academic discipline of adult education (where I have my doctorate) a variety of terms are used for essentially similar processes: I most often use self-directed learning as a generic term for the process of guiding my own learning. Inquiry based learning is a very similar term and can be used somewhat interchangeably except that I think it is more flexible and probably more fun.I decide I want to learn something and go where the notion takes me...sort of like a ramble through the Highlands. :-) Both are "owned" by me.
I guess it could be useful to have an overall framework provided for learners as a kind of orientation. Then within that 'shell' I suppose you might support learners to work under their own direction. SCoPE does that in my mind. They provide an environment and structure it with spaces to interact, resources and open sessions. Within that we are free to interpret and to exercise our interests broadly as we see fit. Very good example
One key point seems to be how people conceptualise their learning - either alone or together. For instance how do you understand or think about your use of those OER-U resources and how do you do that in relation to the use of this kind of setting? How we read opportunities and settings must surely influence how we act towards them. Right and each circumstance is a bit different depending at least in part on how central it is to our lives. This seminar is important to me because I have been more or less assigned as our college's representative to the whole OER Foundation and OER-u enterprise...I have been interested in the whole thing as a kind of "hobby" for a year or more but now that my Dean has said "This is a legitimate use for your sabbatical" it is much more central and gets more time.
To my mind that is indicative of characteristics of enquiry based learning. Would you see that as a fair view? Yes and not only that there is a whole community of adult educators who have dedicated much of their careers to self-directed learning. They have a small but great symposium in the US (Florida) in February every year. The International Society for Self-directed Learning http://www.oltraining.com/SDLwebsite/indexSDL.php I introduced them to wikieducator last year and had hoped to recruit some of them to our OER-u effort this year, but I was ill in February and unable to go.
I know this is long and may seem like a lecture, but I think that our community and the discipline of adult education especially self-directed learning are ideal partners...I am trying to be a boundary spanner between them. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and questions.
Not necessarily, no ... at least for me. We have cognitive, skill and affective outcomes (all three of which are embedded in single competencies and wicked problems) and for knowledge we have factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive. So I think it would help to be a bit more specific about what kinds of outcomes we hope learners to achieve in EBL/IBL and for each of these to what extent and in what way, they might be given in advance.
If you are talking about the factual and conceptual knowledge outcomes of the enquiry then I'd say probably yes to not being known in advance. I say probably because if we can't build in/describe divergence for intended higher level cognitive outcomes, then we have a real problem with outcomes period ... but I think we can. Even though that is a challenge, it is one worth aiming for, isn't it?
(but in Hong Kong)
As I understand all learning including inquiry based learning (what some adult educators call self-directed learning--when done individually and what others call "connected learning" when done as a shared process) has more or less intentional and known outcomes
Let's take this seminar for example. I consider it to be an inquiry based learning or self-directed learning experience. I am participating because I intend to learn more about creative commons licenses and build my network of people with a mutual interest and commitment to OER. At least one "known outcome" I desire is the skill of making wise decisions about which of several creative commons licenses to use in my own work. I will consider my self-defined "intended outcome" to be met if at the end of the seminar I do feel comfortable using the licenses. However, it is likely that I will not be an expert on these licenses after one short course, if have "approached but not completed" my (self-defined) desired outcome so I will fill in gaps in my knowledge through other kinds of inquiry learning, and the basics learned here will help simplify and clarify that inquiry. Since it is a self-directed project I take the responsibility for evaluation on myself. Wayne and the rest of the group may never know if I have met my outcome goals, unless they ask and I choose to tell them.
Now let's say that instead of a self-directed learning experience, I have been asked to create a formal course module that covers Creative Commons Licenses and other aspects of OER and so will be asked to evaluate students for formal college credit. I include this seminar as the primary source of learning along with various other learning materials from OER and some I create myself. The university expects me as a professor to establish a valid way of measuring learning outcomes so I create evaluation tools and feedback mechanisms that include a quiz or two, a comprehensive final exam with both short answers and longer essays and perhaps have each student do a personal project to earn 4 advanced level undergraduate university credits (US system). These evaluation tools are designed to demonstrate that each student is able to define OER, choose appropriate licensing, add his/her materials to OER and use/adapt OER materials to their own educational practices. Students are evaluated with these tools. I give them both verbal and numerical feedback and probably a letter grade that is part of a formal transcript.
So self-directed learning and what might be called institutionally based learning each have outcomes. One main difference is whether desired outcomes are extrinsically or intrinsically designed and measured. Another is whether the learner is "rated" or "evaluated" on his/her level of mastery (i.e. grades)
To make things even more confusing some learning experiences are both self-directed and formal. At our university we frequently work with "learning contracts" between professor and student(s) where learning activities and evaluation criteria are negotiated ahead of time.
Any learning experience on the continuum from self-directed (inquiry based) learning through learning contracts to completely teacher defined learning and evaluation may be personally, organizationally, and/or socially useful. The choice of approach probably depends on a number of factors for any given learning experience.
Probably "incidental learning" that happens by luck or serendipity is the only kind of learning where little or no thought is given to outcomes.
I hope this clarifies my views a bit. All the best. Joyce McK
I clear Joyce of all responsibility for the statement about unknown outcomes. I was the culprit but I still defend the point and Joyce's statement of her objectives makes my case, at least partially. She has a different starting point to myself or the other 'Nick' for example. Therefore she will almost inevitably have different outcomes that can not be known by me, if by herself at this starting point.
I think that a course can make statements of broad outcomes from enquiry based learning such as 'you will have a greater understanding of the issues and experiences and practice of EBL' etc. And the course team can set criteria by which that might be judged such as 'evidence of an awareness and understanding of the issues for tutors and learners, is able to describe learning theories that relate to EBL and so on.
However, within this there is no reason why participants cannot and should not develop their own assessment criteria that address their own agenda within the enquiry process. For you Joyce, that could mean a greater awareness of OER issues, an awareness of how to network to good effect or whatever.
So, my point remains the same. Although the institution can provide a framework for investigation - alone or together - the starting points and endings are only known in very general terms such as the known date and the first module duration etc. The outcomes, based on Constructivism or a variety of other theories, would be unknown. This may of course be true of any course but I feel it is highlighted to a greater extent in models of learning that allow learners to define and enact their learning agenda.
The Western 'Nick'
In the previous post, I wasn't making a distinction with describing outcomes about who describes them - learner or teacher. I think both are needed in these types of approaches, I would expect learners to discuss, describe, decide their own outcomes and evaluation criteria. Just that I think it is important that the people involved try to do this and that in doing so, they need to take into account the complexity and divergence in outcomes that would be expected from an EBL approach. The quote I gave before seemed to imply that outcomes could not be determined in advance but I think some can, especially when you think about procedural knowledge associated with enquiry, as well as cognitive, skill and affective outcomes, as Nick gives in the examples above.
You make a very interesting point about different names applied to this kind of learning. And I would very much like to explore the idea of self-directed learning and its relationship with EBL. This is something I keep rolling round in my mind - self and relational and socially directed learning etc. I still haven't resolved the issue but maybe I could share my current thinking to see if it offers any links to the thoughts of others here?
I see self-directed learning as something that may happen within an EBL framework. Then I think of it in different ways -
1. As situational - for the way the possibilities to be self-directed are partly to do with the conditions
2. As situational - for the role and involvement of others that may have an impact on your autonomy or activity
3. Cognitive - for the way you perceive your self, the others, the possibilities and the environment
4. Cognitive - for the way you form a view upon which to operate and mobilize your learning
5. Situational - for the way you sample the environment and the perspective of others
I could go on at length here but I think I'm really trying to say that the notion of self-direction in learning seems to be encouraged more and more. People talk about developing the abilities and skills of people to be more autonomous in general. They advocate EBL partly to develop these attributes. However, I'm not at all convinced that these are all down to individual psychology despite the way they're often portrayed.
I see all kinds of models with stages of autonomy or cycles and levels of development. But all these assume an individual carries these across all situations and that they are independent of the social context. Perhaps some could be more portable than others but this area still seems problematic to me. So I'd be interested to hear the views of others on this whole idea of self-direction in learning. What do others think? And how does EBL facilitate this to good effect?
Have a good weekend wherever you are. We've had some sunshine this week so it feels like Spring is in the air at last. Hope its good with you.
I think it's a great idea for us to have a pre-worshop discussion among ourselves to get to know one another. I think this kind of inquiry learning will provide the facilitator of the workshop with excellent input on how to cater to our needs as participants of this workshop.
I have survived the formal education system and am considering doing a postdoctorate. I say survive because I had to follow the system and do my own thing by going beyond the requirements of the programs and courses or die of boredom. That is why I believe learners should try to set their own learning outcomes at the beginning or during the course or program. However, the instructor and organization should provide the syllabus and assessment rubrics in advance so students know what is expected of them in order to pass the course.
Sylvia has provided opening questions that I provide my students, too, but that I don't particularly like to answer myself. I would say there are things that I must do as an instructor that are not always compatible with how I learn.
However, to answer the questions posed. As a teacher, I am interested in involving my students in reflective practice through the use of multimedia and electronic portfolios. In order to do that, I get my students to ask questions and reflect on the content and the tasks that they are expected to do. I use Mahara for reflective practice and as a social network to engage my students. I also use facebook (class groups) and encourage them to create their own blogs. I have also used WikiEducator for student projects.
I would be interested in learning what others are using.
To the documents that would help learners (the syllabus and assessment rubrics), we would add a study guide. This would help learners who have no experience in higher education.
With regard to assessment, it would help if there is the inclusion of the awareness of the relevance and application of various theories (which tend to be universal) to the learners' local or professional context. This would help establishing the fit between theories and practice on the part of learners.
Sorry to have missed your message. I did see it on my phone but it's difficult logging on by phone and then typing so I failed to reply to what was an interesting message you posted.
I was interested in your mention of supporting reflective practice and also the use of technology etc. I have to confess portfolios are my pet hate but that doesn't mean they're not useful. I know some people -staff and students love them. Part of my pet hate for portfolios is that it is reflecting alone and it misses a much needed conversation. The other reason is that my work is centred upon collaborative and collective approaches to reflection so in that sense it's slightly in opposition to writing alone. I actually talk about it as mutually informative. I think doing one helps do the other better. So, on a good day I'm not really hostile to them :-)
Do you have any collaborative approaches to reflection that you found useful? I'd be very interested to hear about that and I'm certainly open to sharing my experiences if that was of any interest. I think reflective practice has some very strange models and so many are based around cycles or spirals. I made it my aim and personal project to get away from them. :-)
I view the writing of e-portfolios as a collaborative process that combines reflective practice and social networking. I find the Mahara great for e-portfolios because it is a social network, too. You are invited to create a group for your colleagues on IT4ALL Mahara . Let me know if you'd like me to also create an institution for you.
all though the thoughts ons this forum are allready quite old , I still hope that someone will read my reply.
I use the inquiry based method to teach Math in the first degree of secondary school. I have some problems as are mentioned before ( f.e. structure,...)
I have been doing it on this way for 3 years now and because my pupils are so enthousiastic in doing it (They really love math !and I reach the curriculum !) I keep on doing it. Offcourse I have allready encounterd some problems. But as a result of that I kept on developping the complete concept. Now after 3 years I found a workable way that keeps my students enthousiast, that manages my work and give me the opportunity to evaluate process, product en groupwork.
I really hope to keep in touch will all of you because it is very difficultto find similar minded teachers and that's a shame.
Christel, I was just off to bed and your message opened my sleepy eyes. You mention structural issues. Can you remind us of what they were in more detail? I'd be very interested in the way you frame your inquiry-based approach. One of the things I've come to realise in my own work is that the way you set it up has a considerable influence not only upon the thoughts of the participants but also upon their feelings - both of which are important outcomes of the inquiry process. I'd be interested to hear more about your work and great that we can resurrect this engaging issue.
On that note I'm off to bed. It's almost 11.30pm here. Goodnight all, wherever you are.
Thanks for your replies.
The structural issues I'm talking about is a) getting structure in Pupils notes. It is very difficult for me to make students notes of what they have learned because often students see an unforeseen angle, witch is great but this ends up in having documents within the documents,..
Another structural issue is not having enough PC's (as in any school i presume)
I will try to explain how I handle the inquiry based projects.
First of all the inquiry that is asked to solve is alway embeded in a real-live situation. I give the kind of a "story" and I allways try to find something that interests them. Within this "story a few words are highlighted and actually these are things to find out in order to have a good inquiry. They are some words (mostly typical math terms)
There is a "new word lis" were they have to explain these math-terms with their own words so that i can see that they understand correctly. Then there is a logbook, were they have to write what exactly they have done, this every time they work at their project. There is also a section problems in this logbook , often the biggest problem mentioned is the working of the group. It's not only investigating the problem but also creating
a "creative " work that show what they have learned.
Then I give them a general point as a group at the end-result, they have to divide this point themselves. But they can not give every-one the same point and they may not work with half points. They alway have to explain in detail why everyone in the group gets its marks. This is a part of the peer-evaluation witch is coupled to each project. After that I have a fiche per student on wich I gather all information and then we have an individual chat.
After all this I make classroomnotes based on their findings and what they have given as new information. We take our time in hendling these notes and making exercises in order to get them all to untherstand. Allthough this seems very timeconsuming it works because all theory has allready been aabsorbed by the students but it gives me the opportunity to make sure that as from that moment they all get the exact mathematical info (cq the word in the wordlist)
I think this is very difficult to grasp if i explain it like this so if you want a concrete example please let me know.
These varied portfolios are automatically stored in a Journal, along with sessions from individual software activities in any subject area. The Journal supports sorting and searching on topic names, descriptions, tags, date and time, the software used to create a session, document types, the names of other children who collaborated in a session, and so on.
Sugar is available for almost any computer, either natively in Linux or as Sugar on a Stick (USB thumb drive).
I would be happy to provide more information if you would like.
Enquiry learning in general is one such topic. Here are a few others.
* Collaborative learning, using the collaboration tools in Sugar and elsewhere, so that students can work on a document at the same time from their homes, whether it be writing a paper; an art, photography, video, or multimedia project; musical composition and practice; or tools for sharing work on any other subject.
* How computers change what children can learn at what age, and how that can and will change curricula. For example, Don Cohen's Calculus by and for Young People and my own notions on Kindergarten calculus. At least a half dozen computers languages have been successfully taught in third grade, and there are successful experiments in several languages in first grade. Turtle Art can be taught as a spoken language to pre-literate pre-schoolers.
* Far deeper research on Piaget's Constructivist ideas, and Papert's Constructionism. Also far more coherent explanations to the public about the variety of meanings attached to these two terms by people who haven't read or understood the original research.
* What factors in the classroom and elsewhere contribute to resistance to such ideas or to embracing them. Why, for example, do we delay language teaching until after the child's natural language learning abilities have faded? Why do teachers engage in rwars over phonics and whole word approaches to reading, when English requires both? Why are math and science textbooks full of falsehoods and inaccuracies?
* How children can and do learn subjects that their teachers and parents know nothing about.
For each of these topics I can supply extensive references, including writings by the pioneers and their opponents, best practices, worst practices, and so on.
I've been pre-occupied with organising a conference trip and I'm leaving tomorrow for Australia. However, I do hope to be picking up messages on the way and once there so no reason not to participate.
I don't think we ever got to looking at the video resources did we? In the spirit of OER why don't we explore them together? We could start with the Introductory video and/or look at the others afterwards. Here's the link
Has anyone any thoughts on them individually or even as a set? I picked out what students do, what tutors do and what the activities look like as a broad framework. Does that help?