The Donaldson Report has outlined aspects of methodology which need refinement. These include:
- mind-set and the power of effort
- deepening critical and creative thinking
- building on prior knowledge
- creating learner autonomy
- positive relationships
- the power of engagement
- experiential learning
- making it real
- blended learning
Over the coming weeks, I am going to be thinking about all of these aspects of pedagogy. Three which colleagues seem to be confused about are making it real, experiential learning and blended learning. Some teachers seem to think that blended learning is just a case of using a variety of techniques but the troubleis – any teacher will say that they do that. Donaldson’s challenge is to make us re-think what we are doing and to make some changes to our practices.
Experiential Learning – Basically, learning by doing and then reflecting back on what happened rather than by didactic teaching. Kolb’s model is the one most widely acknowledged and sees learning as a cycle which starts with concrete experience. This is followed by observing reflectively, conceptualising and experimenting to test hypotheses.
Making it real- This refers to the idea of linking learning to ‘the real world’ by showing its relevance outside the classroom and may try to show the practical reasons for learning. This can be achieved by linking information to the wider world, visiting places outside school, giving real contexts for tasks. Simulation, role-play and other drama techniques can help with this.
Blended learning – Blended Learning occurs when a learner learns partly through traditional teacher-based classrooms and partly through digital means. The learner has some control over when, where and how learning takes place. It needs to be planned carefully to meet individual learner needs. Where some traditional and E-learning takes place then the beginnings of blended learning begins.
Blended learning recipes could include: teacher instruction, group work, tutorials, workshops
plus activities such as using distance learning materials, web-sites, interactive materials, podcasts etc.
What would be useful to teachers are case-studies of how these methods work in practice and how such methodology could be fine-tuned to meet the needs of learners.