Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report

IP2016-coverThe Innovating Pedagogy series of annual reports, published by the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world. The purpose of the reports is to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.

For the 2016 report – the fifth – the IET joined forces with the  Learning Sciences Lab in the National Institute of Education, Singapore. Starting with a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices, the authors pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in post-school education. In a rough order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation, the pedagogies are:

  • Learning through social media: Using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
  • Productive failure: Drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
  • Teachback: Learning by explaining what we have been taught
  • Design thinking: Applying design methods in order to solve problems
  • Learning from the crowd: Using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
  • Learning through video games: Making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
  • Formative analytics: Developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
  • Learning for the future: Preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
  • Translanguaging: Enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
  • Blockchain for learning: Storing, validating and trading educational reputation

Some of the ten pedagogies rely on technology (i.e. it would be difficult or impossible to implement them without); examples are learning from the crowd and formative analytics. Others, such as learning through social media, capitalise on the extended possibilities provided by technology. A third group, one feels, could be implemented regardless of technology: indeed, the references to teachback include Palincsar and Brown’s influential article on reciprocal teaching, published in 1984. In this respect, it’s also telling that the section on video games is illustrated with a photo of students gathered around a board-game prototype. If the learning objective is primarily to grasp the concepts underlying a topic, then they can be achieved without taking the additional time (which some teachers may be ill-able to afford) to create a digital version. That said, of course, implementing the game in a digital medium provides an opportunity for the students to develop and practise their digital literacy.

A number of the pedagogies go hand in hand: for example, design thinking can be applied in activities for learning through productive failure, or in the development of video games.

I recommend this report in particular because ideas for teaching and learning first are the starting-point, not technology. Each one is illustrated with examples from different educational sectors, showing how a pedagogy that’s applicable in the primary school can also work well – with appropriate adaptations – in higher education. Equally important,  the report is informed by research. The authors cite the evidence from peer-reviewed literature showing how the pedagogies have worked in the classroom. At the same time there is an injection of realism: possible pitfalls and ethical issues are indicated, such as the risk that blockchain technology may result in learning being treated as ‘a commodity to be bought and sold’ (p. 6).

Finally, one message is clear from the report: the fundamental principles of education endure, in particular the central role of the teacher:

‘The teacher still performs a central function, but that is changing from delivery of educational content to facilitating discussion and reflection. Structure is still important, perhaps even more than it was before, as we discover effective ways to initiate, embed and extend learning. Learners still need appropriate goals and support. Most important, learning is a collegiate process. It works best when people want to learn, enjoy the process and support each other’ (p.10).


Sharples, M., de Roock , R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi, C-K, McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., Wong, L. H. (2016). Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Open University Innovation Report 5. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

To download a copy of the report (PDF format), visit the Innovating Pedagogy website (link opens in a new tab). You can also comment on any aspect of the report through the website.

Parts of this article have been taken from the report, which is published with a Creative Commons Attribution v3.0 licence (CC BY). Opinions expressed are those of the author and are not the responsibility either of the University of Oxford or the Open University. 

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