Selling Inquiry-Based mostly Studying And Instructional Fairness
Promotion of equity in education and inquiry-based learning
“Education is lighting a flame, not filling a vessel.” – Socrates
“Lighting a flame,” a well-known metaphor for education, implies that education should be anything but forced or top-down. Unfortunately, global approaches to education have rarely adapted to this principle. Students around the world have visited schools day in and day out just to experience memorization without knowing how their classroom learning relates to the outside world. Then came 2020 and these students faced an unprecedented crisis.
The pandemic has exposed the existence of dramatic social and digital inequalities in the global education system. As the pandemic spread around the world, schools had to close their doors and switch to distance learning to ensure continued education. As of June 2020, over 1.2 billion students worldwide had not physically attended school.
However, a significant percentage of students in low-income countries had little or no access to the Internet. There were also great racial differences. Compared to 10% of whites, 40% of African American students  and 30% of Hispanic students in the US K-12 education system did not have access to online classes. In addition, little is known about the ability to cater to the needs of people with disabilities or English learners.
Digital injustices have existed in the global education system for a long time. While it is important to close this digital divide, it is equally important to prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed in an uncertain future.
The need for inquiry-based learning
In addition to addressing broadband and device access restrictions, it’s important to realize that student needs are complex. Not only does each child learn at their own pace, their language preferences also differ. Under normal circumstances, non-native speakers have difficulty getting English lessons. Now imagine these conditions in a distance learning environment, with limited access to peers for language learning.
Much has been said around the world about the need to educate children about 21st century skills and practices.
To enable such extensive skill learning, educators need to encourage inquiry-based learning through the use of digital tools.
Research-based learning combines student curiosity with a scientific method to develop critical thinking skills. Instead of just being “guided”, the students can actively ask questions, explore different topics and develop their own solutions. This empowers them, increases engagement and enables them to take responsibility for their learning. The result is a deeper understanding of concepts.
How can educators enable this approach? Also, how can this strategy be implemented if students do not even have adequate access to resources?
EdTech can promote equal opportunities and research-based learning
The silver lining of the pandemic was that it helped educators appreciate the benefits digital learning platforms and EdTech bring to the K-12 and higher education. With the right digital tools, schools can achieve their academic goals while promoting educational equity and research-based learning.
Enable access to online learning for all
The pandemic has also highlighted the inefficiencies in the current education system. About 6% to 12% of the people in a developed economy like the United States still do not have access to broadband networks. In fact, the numbers from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2020 Broadband Development Report were inaccurate . Educational inequality is a systemic problem and increased provincial and federal investment is needed to bridge this gap. This goes beyond providing free laptops to students in need.
Prioritization of equal opportunities in learning initiatives
It goes without saying that education leaders need to prioritize financial and resource planning over education, while policy decisions should be based on factors such as race, geography, income and native language, among other factors. In Italy, the majority of teachers did not know how to teach students online when the bans were imposed. The pandemic has emphasized the need to develop digital skills for all citizens, teachers, students and parents alike. Leaders and teachers now need to work together to identify technologies that can improve student engagement and performance. A good example of such an initiative is the multi-year high-tech project between teachers and executives at 20 American middle schools supported by Digital Promise in partnership with Verizon.
Investing in digital tools that promote inclusion
The pandemic was difficult for students from low-income households, with a survey showing that 40% of these children had access to distance learning once a week or less. Digital learning platforms that provide offline access to content can make a big difference in promoting access. Using a digital learning platform that offers offline readers allows students to download content and view it however they want, even when they are not connected to the internet. Another tool is readable eBooks with audio-to-text synchronization that can help create multilingual classrooms and make learning easier for students with different abilities.
Effective assessment is important in inquiry-based learning
Traditional tests provide limited data on how well students are learning. Teachers need powerful online assessment tools to support adaptive and formative assessments. Greater use of formative assessments can help teachers provide timely, personalized feedback to improve academic results. Studies have also shown that game elements in exploratory learning strategies can have positive effects on conceptual learning and information search strategies.
The need for robust analysis to help teachers get positive results
Both students and teachers are informed about their areas of interest and not asked. While teachers are bombarded with rubrics and frameworks, students must follow rigid curricula. That is demotivating and distances young minds from exploring new things. Rather, teachers need to be encouraged to ask questions such as:
- How can I encourage students to ask more in-depth questions?
- How can I involve students in the most fun way possible?
- Are my students really taking in knowledge and incorporating feedback?
- How do teachers in other districts deal with distance learning programs?
In research-based classrooms, teachers and students need both time to plan, collaborate, and evaluate. They must be given a voice and autonomy.
Use of differentiated teaching strategies
The implementation of research-based learning activities requires the use of differentiated teaching instruments in order to promote commitment and creativity. This includes methods such as discussion and guided research through content in the form of text, videos, audio and other virtual tools. The provision of a range of content formats enables teachers to cater to the diverse learning needs of students. In addition, collaboration tools such as discussion forums, peer-to-peer learning, and more research can encourage collaboration.
There are many benefits to inquiry-based learning, most notably in encouraging engagement from students who are currently disaffected with what is going on around them. It is important that educators address the emotions and needs of students during this pandemic through appropriate classroom teaching. Inquiry-based learning will in many ways also help address the problem of the unified approach of the current education system. The right digital platform can make all the difference.
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