Innovating Pedagogy 2019

In this blog post, Liz Masterman summarises the key findings from the recent Innovating Pedagogy 2019 report. This report indicates how education will develop in the future and which teaching and learning practices will drive this change.

The Innovating Pedagogy series of annual reports, published by the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world. The purpose of the reports is to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.

For the 2019 report – the seventh – the IET joined forces with the Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE), University of Bergen, Norway. Starting with a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices, the authors pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice.

Pedagogies with the potential to change education

In a rough order of potential impact (high, medium) and timescale to widespread implementation (medium, ongoing), the pedagogies are:

  • Playful learning: focusing on the process more than the outcome and allows for exploration of different issues from a variety of perspectives.
  • Learning with robots: helping a learner understand something by providing a partner for conversation who is always available, and freeing teachers to redirect their energy towards essentially human tasks (e.g. exercising judgement and providing emotional support).
  • Decolonising learning: challenging the assumption that the most valuable knowledge and educational approaches (including digital ones) come from a single, ‘Western’, tradition.
  • Drone-based learning: enriching the exploration of physical spaces.
  • Learning through wonder: motivating learners to see a phenomenon from multiple perspectives, turning familiar objects into prompts for inquiry and imagination.
  • Action learning: using a team-based approach to address real and immediate problems.
  • Virtual studios: offering new possibilities for collaboration in the creative disciplines at long distance and/or scale.
  • Place-based learning: providing learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment to inspire learners.
  • Making thinking visible: making students’ assumptions and ideas visible both to teachers (to see how each student is progressing and identify where they might be blocked) and to the students themselves (for reflection).
  • Roots of empathy: helping children aged 5 to 13 to develop their emotional understanding.

Some of the ten pedagogies rely on technology (i.e. technology is embedded in them): examples are learning with robots and drone-based learning. Others, such as virtual studios, place-based learning and making thinking visible, capitalise on the extended possibilities provided by technology. A third group, represented by roots of empathy, can stand on their own, regardless of technology.

two students exploring plants on their phone inside a botanical garden

Mobile technologies have opened up new possibilities for place-based learning. © Chris Holt.

A number of the pedagogies could go hand in hand: for example, learning by wonder and drone-based learning (‘Drones can feed learners’ curiosity to see things that are hidden’: page 20).

Some pedagogies are in essence a new twist on established ones. Decolonising learning has links with critical pedagogy; learning through wonder has affinities with guided discovery learning; and place-based learning is fieldwork extended to embrace community activities and/or enhanced by mobile technologies.

Putting teaching and learning first

What is important about the Innovating Pedagogy series is that ideas for teaching and learning are the starting-point, not technology. In most cases, the pedagogies are illustrated with examples from different educational sectors, although unlike some previous reports this year’s edition seems more strongly directed towards the schools sector. Interestingly, a bi-directional flow of influence through the different educational sectors is discernible. A pedagogy such as playful learning, which may initially seem more suitable for early years learning, can turn out to have applications all the way up to higher education. Conversely, action learning, which was developed for solving problems of business and leadership in the workplace, has filtered down through to the formal educational sector, both universities and schools.

Lessons learnt from research and practice

Equally important, the report is informed by research and practice. The authors include references to peer-reviewed papers and ‘grey’ literature showing how the pedagogies have worked in the classroom. At the same time, possible pitfalls and moral ethical issues are indicated. These include the high cost of robotics equipment and drones; the difficulty of fitting games into the curriculum; negative reactions to human-like AI robots; the responsible use of AI; and the privacy, legal and safety issues associated with the use of drones.

Teachers remain key figures

Finally, one message is clear from the report: the fundamental principles of education endure, in particular the central role of the teacher. In their introduction, the authors quote Stephen Downes, a leading Canadian commentator on digital education: ‘the core of learning is found … in how teachers help students discover new possibilities from familiar things, and then from new things’ (p. 7).

Parts of this article have been taken from the report, which is published with a Creative Commons Attribution v3.0 licence (CC BY). Opinions expressed are those of the author and are not the responsibility either of the University of Oxford or the Open University.

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. 
  •  Download a copy of the report (PDF format) from the Innovating Pedagogy website.


Words: CC BY-SA licence.

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