EdTech 543- Classroom 2.0 Webinar: Inquiry Learning and Empowering Students

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.

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One response

  1. Hi Jon,

    Thank you for joining my session and also for taking the time to write about it. I appreciate your feedback that the presentation: “… was very interesting and inspirational, but lacked a bit of substance in terms of practical application knowledge.”

    I appreciate this because that’s an aspect of professional development that I, myself, do not like when attending sessions.
    That said, my focus was on inquiry learning, I started with an inquiry question, and for each of the 7 aspects I shared, I also included an inquiry question to explore further:

    Key question: How will you transform your classroom into an inquiry-driven, collaborative, and engaging learning environment?

    Inquiry: Which of these resources will you use to help you develop some inquiry based projects? http://2di.me/1inquire

    Voice: How can you use recording devices to get students prepared for presentations, or to get students to share their work publicly?

    Audience: What can you do to increase the audience of your students’ work beyond the class or just you, their teacher? http://2di.me/3audience

    Community: Who do you know in your community (or your online network) that can share their expertise with your students?

    Leadership: How can you create more authentic leadership opportunities for your students in your class? http://2di.me/5leadership

    Play: How can you embed ‘Game Design’ into your lessons? http://2di.me/6sanbox

    Networks: What tools can you use to connect students to learning that’s happening in other physical and digital learning spaces? (Mentioned Skype as a starting point.)

    And I also gave an example of a way to use wikis to launch a student-driven inquiry: http://sciencealive.wikispaces.com with my reflections shared in the chat: http://2di.me/WikiReflections

    Perhaps after the “It starts with YOU!” slide that you shared a screen shot of above, I should have re-posted these questions?

    My challenge with a presentation for Classroom2.0 Live! is that I am told to expect many new-to-tech teachers to watch and so an overwhelming list of tools could be quite scary, and a prescribed ‘how to’ goes completely against the grain of me asking teachers to be the ‘lead learner’ and model for inquiry learning.

    All that said, I’d love to go back to the original point you brought up and ask for your help: “… was very interesting and inspirational, but lacked a bit of substance in terms of practical application knowledge.”

    Please help me by offering some suggestions as to what you, as a participant in the webinar, would have like to have seen. I’ve learned time and again that when one person says something like what you said above, there are probably a dozen or so who thought it, but never took the time to say anything. So, once again, thank you for both joining me and for writing this, and please let me know of any suggestions you may have to make my future presentations more practical and meaningful to the audience.

    …Keeping the inquiry going… 🙂

    Kind regards,
    Dave

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