Empowerment of learners occurs when students own, are engaged with and have control over the learning process. Providing highly transformative learning ecosystems and innovative pedagogical approaches in secondary classrooms can be accelerated through meaningful and effective tailoring of technology, space and pedagogy. This presentation considers strategies for maximising learner engagement through various experiences of implementing learner-centred pedagogies, based on research evidence from meta-analyses, including Hattie’s Visible Learning, whilst utilising a wide range of technologies and learning spaces.
Learner engagement is supported through offering choice and opportunity, using data driven decision making, ensuring relevance, providing demonstrations using visuals and multimedia, engaging students as soon as possible to learn by doing, and requiring them to draw conclusions and support decisions. Active, learner-centred, teaching methods also place unique demands on space. Consequently, guiding principles for the construction and renovation of educational spaces to support learner-centred pedagogy include interaction, intensity and flexibility. Technology affords these connections between learners, supporting interaction, offering variable rate, local/remote, synchronous/asynchronous activities and considerable flexibility in delivery and progression. Such technologies offer opportunities to extend the pedagogical possibilities of more traditional learning environments as well as those custom built for encouraging interaction between learners.
Specific experience has been gained by the presenters of teaching and learning in purpose built novel learning spaces, developed with cognisance of current literature and best practice. Science laboratories and Active Learning Areas have been developed with dynamic space, diverse technology, wireless connectivity and specific writing surfaces to facilitate collaborative, constructive, and experimental learning by students.
The affordances of various technologies within (and beyond) these novel spaces, such as sceencasting, Socrative, Padlet, Wordle, Tagul, OneNote, cloud computing and MirrorOP offer a range of new, collaborative, asynchronous, pedagogical approaches, such as ‘flipped’ and ‘blended’ classrooms. As always, however, a plethora of innovative technologies in a vacuum is no assurance of success. It’s about the meaningful weaving of content and more often learning processes, rather than technology, to ensure that successful learning is achieved.
Programs such as Harvard’s Making Thinking Visible emphasise the benefits of student dialogue and for ‘thinking out loud’, whilst the selection of the right technological tool for the task mandates that teachers let the pedagogy determine the technology to be employed. Further, learning and teaching frameworks, such as Mishra and Kohler’s TPACK, recognise that learning is optimised when teachers work at the nexus of Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge, with implications for teacher professional development.
Laptop with wireless internet connectivity.