In the light of recent advances and changes in technology, educational establishments need to consider how we as teachers can best capture the minds of our youth and continue to inspire them to learn and develop as independent learners in our International Schools. Our learners have now become producers and publishers and have moved away from being mere consumers of content and direct instruction. They have access to the Internet, which offers a variety of worldwide media; and this is particularly true at Nexus International School, where every learner from Year 6 through to Year 11 has their own MacBook Pro. Each individual now has the ability to create inspiring content by using digital technologies and simple software applications that they can publish to an eager and waiting worldwide audience. Their learning styles have progressed, and classrooms need to become innovative and inspiring learning spaces to ensure they are always kept engaged.
There are 3 different modern methodologies that I believe encapsulate 21st Century Learning: Discovery based learning, Problem based learning and Challenged based learning. These pedagogic approaches link together to form a multidisciplinary method of teaching and learning for today's modern classroom and learning environments, and are all used at Nexus International School. The key objective of using these approaches is to add value to each learner’s intellectual make-up, in terms of their problem-solving process skills, life-long learning attitudes and ready-to-use knowledge. They enable students to become knowledgeable team players and to acquire the skills necessary to handle a variety of different situations, tackle problems and complete tasks in a knowledge-driven society.
The 3 key learning methodologies are explained here in more detail:
1) Discovery Based Learning: This is an inquiry-based approach, which allows the learner to draw on his or her own past experience and existing knowledge to discover facts and relationships to solve everyday problems. Learners interact with the world by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies, or performing experiments. By using this method, learners are more likely to remember concepts and knowledge that they discover on their own. This approach is key in the early stages of learning and a style of education often used in Primary and Elementary schools. This approach is used in our Early Years of learning where our learners are encouraged to experiment and learn by doing.
2) Problem Based Learning: This is a learner-centered pedagogy in which students explore a realistic problem from many different angles. It is often complex and requires higher level thinking skills. Learners can work in groups, or individually to identify what they already know, what they need to know, and how and where to access new information that may lead to solving the initial problem. The role of the educator is to ask probing questions, provide appropriate resources, and lead class discussions, as well as designing student assessments. This approach requires higher order metacognitive skills and is more likely to be used in Secondary and High Schools. Nexus International School integrates this approach by using its VLE (KnowledgeNet) to enable learners to tackle different problems at their own pace both inside and outside the classroom.
3) Challenged Based Learning: This approach to learning was first conceived by educators at Apple Inc. It is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages the learner to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. It is a collaborative, practical method that involves learners working with the whole community to acquire and develop a deeper knowledge of their subjects. It allows the learner to accept and solve challenges, take action, share experiences, and enter into a global discussion about important issues. The use of technology is key to this style of learning to enable both international research and publishing to the World Wide Web. This approach to learning is very learner centered, and is a combination of the two previous methodologies. Learners are responsible for finding solutions to real world problems, to bring them up to date with what is happening in society today and prepare them for study at University.
All these methods of learning help to engage learners and provide them with valuable 21st Century skills, which span the divide between formal and informal learning, and embrace their digital lives. Although none of these concepts (learning methodologies) are new and have been used in education with varying degrees of uptake for several years, I believe that now they have become even more prominent and important pedagogies, especially with the increasing number of international schools using digital mobile devices. Here at Nexus International School we promote the enjoyment of learning and the development of enquiring minds through the use of technology and these learner centered approaches to teaching and learning.
This article was written by Steven Pearce – Head of Secondary – Nexus International School, Putrajaya
Source: The Expat Education Guide 2011/2012
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