5 Innovative Teaching Strategies to Transform Your Classroom

We’re currently in an uncertain situation with schools and higher education institutions (HEIs) closed worldwide and many pupils in the UK learning from home. The closures allow you to analyse the curriculums you’re delivering and your teaching strategies. We're at a crucial juncture where education in the UK can be revamped to provide for a more digitally-savvy audience.

So which innovative teaching strategies can provide a more successful educational environment?

  1. Metacognition
  2. Digital Literacy and Remote Learning
  3. Collaborative Learning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. Open-Data Learning

1. Metacognition

Metacognition means ‘thinking about thinking’. According to the Education Endowment Foundation, when used well, metacognition can be 'worth the equivalent of an additional +7 months’ progress'. It’s an effective, low-cost teaching strategy.

It incorporates several small strategies, such as practices like effective questioning, where students are asked, “How do you know?”. Strategies like these ask students to justify their solutions and interrogate their thoughts, rather than possibly emulating the actions of another within their answer.

A main objective of metacognition is to promote self-evaluation, which can help to improve motivation when taught in conjunction with other subjects.

The EEF writes:

"While concepts like ‘plan, monitor, evaluate’ can be introduced generically, the strategies are mostly applied in relation to specific content and tasks and are therefore best taught this way."

Metacognition starts with interrogating knowledge, leads to independent practice and ends in ‘structured reflection’.

2. Digital Literacy and Remote Learning

Many schools and HEIs have had to close in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning teachers and lecturers face the challenges of continuing work within the remit of remote learning. Fortunately, there are many ways of providing teaching through online platforms.

For example, some institutions have been using the video conferencing app Zoom to contact students and maintain education, while tracking work using the work management tool Trello.

“It’s important to remember that parents are now serving as the only direct touchpoint that teachers have with younger students. Trello is being used as the central hub to share assignments, attach proof of work and leave comments and questions,” noted Michael Pryor, founder and head of Trello at Atlassian.

It suggests there's an even-greater need for digital literacy amongst students and parents. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to e-learning, however, at this current time, schools need to determine a set methodology and make sure it’s effectively communicated to both students and parents. This means offering training on any new applications that may be unfamiliar. It also means ensuring there's a wide variety of free online resources given to children to support their learning. 

Luckily, the flexibility of digital learning means offerings can be made bespoke for different groups, depending on their needs. For example, students who don't have high-speed broadband may not be able to access Zoom properly, causing them unnecessary stress. Small issues like this need to be accounted for in any digital teaching strategy.

If teachers are unsure, there are a handful of ways to begin redesigning a curriculum’s offerings to cover digital learning. For example, EdTech UK published a Developing Digital Leadership Bulletin which has some key considerations for online learning strategies. 

3. Collaborative Learning

Pupils working together isn’t a new idea - it’s a practice that’s been around for many years now.

However, there are ways and means of bringing collaborative learning into a newly-productive era. The impact of group work today can vary, with some students putting in more effort than others. Teachers need to begin providing well-structured tasks that facilitate communication amongst all those involved. Interaction is key here.

There has also been some investigation surrounding competitive, collaborative work where student groups compete. It's sometimes beneficial but can lead to students focusing more on the competition rather than the learning.

Similarly, due to the current state of education and the need for remote learning in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth creating opportunities for online creative projects. Classrooms can make the most of platforms such as Google Docs to share files and downloads, as well as collaboratively work on things.

4. Artificial Intelligence

One truly innovative teaching strategy is the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI). Many types can be used in schools and HEIs and can be categorised as such:

  • System-facing.
  • Student-facing.
  • Teacher-facing.

Student-facing AI can be further explained as intelligent tutoring systems (ITS). While it’s still rare to find implemented, the market is quickly growing and is expected to be worth $4 billion by 2024. Some top names include Quantum Adaptive Learning, Third Space Learning, Blackboard, Pearson and Cognizant, among many others. 

ITS works by presenting students with either information or a learning exercise and, depending on their interaction, adapts the next portion of information. It's known as an ‘instructionist pedagogy’, with students moving along a learning path tailored to them. 

During the current coronavirus pandemic, ITS present a real alternative to face-to-face teaching and also better represent the differences found within student ability in an average classroom. 

While there are a growing number of commercially-available ITS which are easy to implement, most cover only core subjects like mathematics and have no capabilities when teaching arts or humanities.

5. Open-Data Learning

Currently, around the world, there’s a wide range of informative data sets available to the public, which can be repurposed for learning. Given educators can now use real-world data, education no longer has to work with made-up examples and can use real-life data to explain or describe teaching focuses. 

This allows students to develop crucial critical abilities, such as the ability to read and interpret data. It’s also the perfect opportunity to introduce students at high school-level to real-world problems, enhancing their analytic skills while teaching them about current political or economic climates.

A great example of this is the Italian initiative, A Scuola di OpenCoesione, which helps students explore data surrounding public funding on building projects. Kaggle is another initiative, a data science platform that mixes data sets with machine learning to create competitions and challenges for individuals and teams. 

As you can see, there are many innovative teaching strategies to look into. However, teachers and educational staff also need to be fully prepared for the impacts of COVID-19 and also Brexit on UK education. To explore more information on those subjects, download our guide. 

The State of Higher Education: Post-Lockdown and Post-Brexit

Our guide covers the most important things you need to know and contains a particular focus on higher education. It includes how to support students learning from home, prepare for the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit and other important practices.

Click the link below to get your own copy.

Guide on the State of Higher Ed