Many of us probably remember sitting in classrooms, listening to our teachers as we sat quietly and took notes. What if we told you that silent classrooms are a thing of the past? At the heart of the Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) approach, asking lots of questions is the best thing a student could do.
Globally, IBL is growing in popularity and in fact, it is central to Coding Lab’s teaching methodology – it works even better with the help of technology. Let’s dive into what IBL is, its benefits and how it’s important in enriching our Coding Lab students’ lives!
What exactly is Inquiry-Based Learning?
Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) is an educational strategy where students take a more active approach to their learning through asking questions and finding their own solutions. It’s quite different from what we know – students are now at the centre of teaching and take charge of their own independent learning. Of course, with the right encouragement and guidance, they will be empowered to tackle problems and be motivated to find their own answers.
IBL follows an inquiry cycle. Students will first get acquainted with the topic, then formulate their questions and decide what they want to find out. Through investigating and experimenting, which is key to IBL, they are able to make their inferences and then share their findings with others. Throughout the inquiry process, discussions happen not only at the end, but constantly throughout as reflection and insights from others can help improve the process.
Sounds familiar? Yes, IBL is influenced by The Scientific Method that we were introduced to in our Secondary school’s science lab experiments and research papers in University. Here’s a helpful infographic to navigate your way!
Many countries have adopted IBL in their education systems. In Ontario, Canada, and the Dutch school system, IBL is used to teach reading, with impressive results and improvement.
Other benefits include the increase in students’ self-perceived confidence in research skills and effective communication – even six months later. It can also have a significant and positive effect on the building of technological knowledge and the development of problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities.
The best part about the inquiry cycle? The more they know, the more they will get thinking about related topics, and the deeper their hunger for knowledge will be. But they know how to find the answers themselves!
How Inquiry-Based Learning and Technology go hand-in-hand
IBL might sound a little tricky and complex, but with technology, it’s a lot easier to carry out. IBL has shown to be an effective method – so, where does technology come in?
You might have heard of a time where people had to physically go to libraries to search for books and encyclopedias. Today, open access to search engines have condensed everything into a device, such as your phone, laptop or tablet. Students now have the world at their fingertips with a simple search.
But how do we get children to start questioning? At Coding Lab, we pique their curiosity with things that they are interested in, such as with games that they love. We get them to start wondering, “How do these games work? Why does the character jump when you press space?” We make sure that we facilitate the inquiry process – we ask them questions to get them thinking, and they get to ask us too. It helps that they can search up their answers, but we don’t want our students to just copy codes, we emphasise on the understanding of codes.
Incorporating Inquiry-Based Learning: What can we do?
Technology doesn’t only help with finding the answers, we can do experiments with it and so much more! We know that learning becomes more fun when games are involved, and students get to experiment and find out the answers by watching their guesses play out. Want to understand math concepts like geometry or physics? Play games, code with Scratch or explore Minecraft’s virtual world, and you can learn and experiment individually or in a team.
Another way that technology helps is when we put our heads together for discussions, which are important and should be ongoing throughout the inquiry process, and everyone gets to chime in. Tools such as Poll Everywhere and Survey Monkey have made it easier for participation (especially the shy ones), and online productivity tools elevate learning to the next level. From real-time collaboration with Google Workspace and Padlet to asking questions anonymously on Mentimeter, you can leave no stone unturned!
Now that you understand how technology and IBL work together, you can see why Coding Lab has chosen to make it central to our curriculum and teaching. Every feature of our classes has been carefully designed to allow our kids to flourish, and it’s why IBL is part of our teaching philosophy. Let’s cultivate resilience in our children and teach them the ability to hunt their answers down with the power of Inquiry-Based Learning!
(Written by Nicole Loo, Edited by Zulaikha and Cheryl)
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