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New teaching and learning trends revealed in OU’s annual study

The OU’s Innovating Pedagogy Report takes a look into the crystal ball to see how tomorrow’s teaching and learning practices could change education.

It’s compiled annually by The Open University and this year was created in conjunction with SRI International, the US-based research institute. The report highlights the top 10 trends which it predicts will have the most influence on how education. These include learning, teaching and assessment in the post-school sector and how they might change over the next decade.

Professor Mike Sharples, Chair in Educational Technology at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology is the lead author of this year’s report and he’s picked out three emerging trends as:

• Embodied learning

This is the concept of the mind and body working together to support learning. The increase in wearable sensors which gather physical and biological data are starting to make this more of a reality. Professor Sharples says embodied learning could allow students to become their own research labs. This approach has been trialled on an OU project, xDelia, (Xcellence in Decision-making through Enhanced Learning in Immersive Applications). The project is developing and exploring the use of serious games linked to physiological sensors. These detect and address the impact of people’s behaviours, habits and emotional states when they make financial decisions.

• Analytics of emotions

Here, the concept focuses on analysing students’ emotions as they study and work through assignments. In the future, the report predicts devices like eye trackers and facial recognition software will analyse students’ emotional states when they are learning. For example, they can track whether students find the content boring or frustrating, all of which can be fed back into course design. It means that understanding where students are struggling can help teachers and online learning systems offer more personalised responses.

• Stealth assessment

Through stealth assessment, data will be collected about students as they learn online in educational games to detect students’ skills in problem solving and creativity. Concerns have been raised around collecting vast amounts of student learning data. The OU is the first university in the world to develop and put into practice a policy for the ethical use of student data. Universities around the world are looking at this work as a model as the ethics of this research were drawn up in conjunction with OU students.

Innovating Pedagogy 2015 is for teachers, policy makers, academics and anyone interested in how education may change over the next 10 years. The OU takes the lead on this annually. The OU’s Technology Enhanced Learning is a research priority area which generates ideas which shape the future of massive-scale learning.

This year’s report was compiled with colleagues from the Center for Technology in Learning (CTL), SRI International, California. SRI is a world leader in consultancy for education producing reports that influence policy, teaching practice and educational technology products. The two Directors of CTL Jeremy Roschelle and Barbara Means as well as other CTL researchers, contributed to the Innovating Pedagogy 2015 as well as other researchers there.

Jeremy Roschelle, co-director of Center for Technology in Learning, said:

Innovating pedagogy is now a global activity, so we at SRI are especially pleased to work with colleagues at the Open University on globally important insights about the future of learning.

Peter Horrocks, The Open University Vice-Chancellor, said:

The way we learn and teach is developing at breakneck speed, and keeping ahead of the curve is vital. The trends and innovations predicted in this authoritative report are fascinating in terms of the impact they will have on global education, as well as on other sectors such as business and technology.

About Author

Christine works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is an experienced BBC journalist, sub-editor and news editor and has a background in regional newspapers. After moving to PR she worked as a press officer for the Zoological Society of London. She has a BSc in Social Sciences with Politics from The Open University and focuses on stories from the Faculty of Social Science and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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