We are living in an age of digital technologies and knowledge. The fourth industrial revolution is already known to blur the boundaries between physical, digital and natural worlds. When we read about futuristic world and job market, it instantly hits us how much our education system is lagging behind compared to the rest of the world. Our schools and classrooms have not changed even 50% according to the modern day requirements. Hence all we see is change in curriculums and book materials to adjust to modern learning theories. However, a significant aspect missing is the adaptation of pedagogy skills to meet these modern requirements. The aim of this article is to highlight several modern and innovative teaching strategies recognized by researchers that schools should use. The interrelationship of education and economy as well as teachers and students need renewed visitation to adjust our visions and goals for upcoming generation.
Read More: Emergence of STEM Schools in Pakistan
Innovative Teaching Strategies
1. Flipped Classrooms
Concept of Flipped Classrooms is gaining popularity among teaching circles these days. It is highly effective considering the current situation of global pandemic of Covid-19. Therefore, Blended learning approaches are becoming an imminent solution. Unlike the traditional approach of teaching concepts in class and practice at home, flipped classrooms take a reverse approach. In flipped classroom approach, teachers provide students with a topic, concept and related content and ask them to research on it at home. The students use online search engine, video tutorials and books available at home to understand the topic and then prepare it for discussion in classroom.
There are many advantages of flipped classrooms. Flipped classrooms allow flexible timing for students to understand concept in detail unlike classrooms where there is limited time to digest the topics being taught. Remote learning is another benefit of flipped classrooms. We see overburdened teachers and students where both are trying to complete the curriculum in limited time frame of online class. Moreover, it solves the issue of connectivity, sick leaves and any emergency situation where traditional classrooms are not available.
The gamification theory in education suggests that students learn best when they are enjoying their learning process. The usefulness of gamification method of teaching is not just based on the fun part but also the concepts of goals, missions and accomplishment which are greater motivators for students. Gamification method involves a variety of methods for learning including learning apps, gaming elements of point scoring, peer competition, score boards, quizzes, puzzles, Lego, academic objectives listed for individual scores, setting check points and levels for different learners etc. Moreover, non-traditional methods of educational applications like Math, Science or Brain games, VR devices and classroom competitions are some of the ways to gamify learning experience.
Using Gamification methods in class not only helps with attention span of students but works for their basic needs like autonomy, control, value, competence, social skills in team games, engagement without effort and excitement for learning new concepts.
3. Design-Thinking Approach
Design-thinking is a modern teaching approach. It is called a human-centered approach towards learning, collaborating and problem-solving. A growing number of schools are now adopting Design-thinking approach as part of new curriculums. However, this approach can be adopted in teaching regular curriculums as well. It can improve and take learning process to another level. The design-thinking approach involves 5 main stages of problem solving and each stage contributes to cognitive and behavioral development of students. The process starts with Empathizing by looking at needs of other and understanding the problem from their perspective. Next is Defining the problem using different inputs, and Ideate i.e. brainstorming process to generate ideas for reaching solution to the problem. Lastly, Prototype step allows experimenting with generated ideas to see outcomes and changing strategy accordingly before Testing stage.
The regular curriculums like previous National Curriculum and Cambridge system do not include aspects of design thinking approach like STEM or IB system. However, teachers can include these components with regular curriculums to instill an environment of inquisitiveness, logical and critical thinking and problem solving approach.
4. Computational Thinking
The purpose of each subject taught in schools is to develop skills and competencies of students in a particular field. Moreover, they should be able to apply that knowledge in real life. For instance, we study physics to understand how living things and matter exist on earth and how basic mechanical devices work in our homes and workplaces. Similarly, art or literature equips students with sense of aesthetics, crafts, language and creativity. Computational thinking is an emerging teaching approach which needs to be inculcated in teacher training programs. Due to emergence of STEM schools in Pakistan we are now witnessing addition of new subjects from primary grades like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and ICT. However, computational skills should be taught as a subject at each school where children can develop strong problem solving skills using basic concepts.
It does not mean that teachers need to train students to write high level codes or build robots. Computational Thinking is applied in classrooms at a very basic level. As a result, it develops the following main skills in students:
Decomposition of main problem into smaller tasks and problems that can be solved independently
Pattern recognition to understand the relationship of all problems with each other. Moreover, determine how solving one problem can lead to solution to another
Algorithm design writing small steps to solve problem
Debugging for refining those steps and presenting solution.
5. The Jigsaw Method
The Jigsaw method can be confused with traditionally applied method of group assignments. However, unlike the competition in such groups, Jigsaw Method is a collaborative learning method. In this method, various groups are formed and assigned to collect different pieces of information for a single topic. Each group works with their members to gather evidence, information or stats regarding their task while other groups are working on different aspects of similar case. Eventually all of them collaborate along with teacher in open discussions about what they have learned and what they have to offer to other groups to formulate answer to the main query. It is like the groups are pieces of jigsaw puzzle who have to find right connections within the classroom to complete puzzle.
The teaching method of Jigsaw is easy to implement with any curriculum. It provides students with enhanced collaborative and communication skills, problem-solving techniques and deeper understanding of concepts.
Other Popular Teaching Approaches
In conclusion, there are many modern pedagogy techniques that are adopted by teachers around the globe. The students and their attitudes are becoming more complicated in this era of technology. For instance, lack of attention span and emotional issues due to high dopamine intakes from screens and games. Teachers need to equip themselves with modern teaching methodologies to prevent this generation from going astray. They need to use the same technology in their benefit along with other pedagogy strategies. Some of the other effective teaching strategies for 2021 include the following:
VAK Teaching Method: Experimenting with Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic (movement) teaching aids to use most suitable one according to students. With extensive use of technology, students today grasp concepts faster when they see or feel it. Thus, use of VAK teaching method effectively can bring a new life to classrooms.
Cross-Over Learning: It is a bit difficult teaching strategy in terms of budget and formation. Instead of using formal setups of classrooms, students are brought to field for investigating or researching a topic. For instance, factories, farm fields, museums, scientific labs etc. for field trips. The experience gained from cross-over learning is found to sustain longer than traditional classroom lessons.
Project-Based Learning: With IB and STEM schools, we now have a pretty clear idea about project-based learning and its benefits. It is essential for schools to adopt project-based pedagogy techniques in classes today. Project-based learning provides a great insight into concepts compared to regular blackboard teaching. Students can benefit a great deal from learning things in new ways.