Innovative Methods to Engage and Motivate Learning


What does an IR code have to do with learning? Is innovation in the world of learning only applicable to the millennial generation? Are more mature learners satisfied with the current pedagogical strategies that are employed in adult learning environments?

These are seemingly arbitrary questions that are often not considered by many educators today for a number of reasons. They are also questions that cannot be dealt with effectively unless we have a better understanding of what makes students, pupils, learners (and any other name we can come up for them) tick. In order to get people to gain the maximum benefit from the world of educational innovation we need to constantly relate the methodologies we use to 5 core factors that underpin all effective learning strategies:

  1. Motivation – Is the content and the methodology exciting the learner?
  2. Personalization – How is the learner able to relate to and apply what they have learned?
  3. Inclusion – Are the methodologies used in and out of the classroom creating an inclusive learning environment that account for age, physical and intellectual ability?
  4. Collaboration – How are learners able to learn from each other, facilitators and any other available resources and subject matter experts?
  5. Flexibility – Given that most people have to work and educate themselves at the same time, how is the learner able to learn without impacting too seriously on their work-life balance and their employers’ time?

The simple answer to this is by embedding technology, fun and everyday routine elements into the learning process and environment wherever possible and creating a learning evolution rather than revolution. This blog post is intended to mention some of these innovations and get training and educational professionals to then begin applying these against the principles that have just been mentioned. 

Learning innovations, tools and methodologies can be broken down into 4 rough categories:

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning tools include the actual devices that make learning easier. Each has various applications within a learning framework, and this means that the tool needs to match the required outcomes, and vice versa. Mobile learning tools include laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras and tablets.

Connected Learning

Connected learning fits hand-in-glove with mobile learning and as the name implies relies on the use of resources that can be reached via internet and wireless connectivity. Once again mobile phones, laptops and tablets are required tools, but these must provide access to wireless networks or, in the case of PCs, be physically connected to a network.

Supported Learning

Supported learning relies on technology that is able to assist the learning process. This enables learners to access digital information and even audio-visual prompts to support the learning process. 

Visual/Interactive Learning

The three other learning categories all feed into the fourth, visual and interactive learning. This is where most learning innovations happen, as educators, trainers, facilitators and teachers are applying cutting edge technologies to make learning richer, multi-sensory and more interesting. Technologies have been combines to introduce video-conferencing, video streaming, variations of image projection, interactive whiteboards and even voting devices that allow for instantaneous tests, surveys and results, which can then be applied within the classroom. Older methodologies are still highly effective, such as storyboards and boardgames. These are being given a technology twist that makes them highly effective.

So what are some of the ways that these technologies and tools are applied innovatively? The co-evolution of technology and learning has resulted in the use of blogs, wikis, social networking, virtual environments, web applications, e-learning and digital portfolios to provide learners with enhanced opportunities to assimilate and integrate larger volumes of information in a variety of ways more quickly, while using multi-modal learning techniques to create more meaningful neural networks. 

The end result? Information is retained, stored and applied far more effectively than the chalk-and-talk lectures of the past. But learning innovations do not stop there. What will the new generation of learners cut their teeth on? Generation C (the Connected Generation) and their parents can expect to see pedagogic advancements in the areas of digital gaming, console gaming, complex learning simulations, remote response systems, handheld computing, pico (handheld) projectors and interactive e-books.

So what does an IR code have to do with learning? Well imagine a learner entering a classroom where all the learning materials in e-book, e-learning, analogue or digital format all have a strange looking pixelated box in each corner, which is then scanned by the learners mobile handset. The handset then connects to any number of learning applications, databases or even an augmented reality tailored to their unique preferences and learning styles – all in the name of providing a more motivational, personalized, inclusive, collaborative and flexible learning experience.

In the words of one of the most influential educators in the last century, Dr Seuss, “Oh the places you will go!” 

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