On Saturday September 29, I attending a webinar hosted by Classroom 2.0. The featured guest was David Truss of the Learning Innovations Network Coquitlam, Coquitlam Open Learning and the Inquiry Hub. David has spent a number of years working towards creating learning environments in which the students are able to formulate their own questions and pursue the answers to those questions, with plenty of learning happening along the way.
The webinar began with general introductions and some polling of the attendees on questions like “Have you used project based learning in your classroom?” Once underway, David gave a description of what he does with his classes and, more importantly, why he feels this form of inquiry-based learning is important for students. Chief among the reasons was the fact that by allowing students to pursue questions they have developed, the students become much more motivated and engaged in the learning process. David provided a number of slides with images and inspirational quotes from those involved with the transformation of education. David went on to develop all 7 of his “Ways to Transform Your Classroom.” As seen in the above screenshot, these include inquiry, voice audience, community, leadership, play and networks. All of these lead, in one way or another, to a more engaged and empowered student.
As the webinar continued, the chat box was very active (I am a bit of a neophyte, so I assume this is what is referred to as the “backchannel”.) Attendees spent a good deal of time sharing opinions of what David was saying and admiring his inspirational quotes. I did feel that the experience as a whole lacked a bit of what I love- “how to” information. Connections did seem to be made, but for the most part they seemed to be already well-established. I added my share of comments and questions (see image below), but did shy away from stepping up to the microphone. Next time. And yes, there will be a next time.
My initial opinion of this experience (it was not my first) was that it was very interesting and inspirational, but lacked a bit of substance in terms of practical application knowledge. However, as I reflect on the experience now, I see that I am still so stuck in my “sage on the stage” mentality that I was expecting David to tell me what to do. I wanted him to say “do these steps and you will have a transformed classroom.” As I sit here know,I realize that David is the catalyst. He gets the conversation going around a particular topic and it is the attendees that make what they want and need of it. From there, they go out and did through the resources, connect with others in attendance (and the connections of those in attendance) and build their understanding and application in a way that is tailored to their own situation. A tough process for sure, but one that seems to have a much better ending than the more directed “do as I tell you approach.”
Hmmm, sounds an awful like inquiry learning. Go figure.