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Utilizing Technology in Inquiry-Based Education

Utilizing Technology in Inquiry-Based Education

Inquiry-based education, or IB education for short, is the natural process of learning through inquisitive behavior and deep curiosity. It is, essentially, learning by finding topics that pique children’s’ interests enough that they take the driver’s seat and discover new information through research and questions on their own.

IB Education in the Classroom

When utilizing inquiry-based education in the classroom, the first step is always to find the right topic to spark enough interest in students. Since motivation is the prime factor that drives their desire to initiate learning through IB means, it’s imperative to find the right angle for your lessons to keep them truly engaged.

Not only do educators need to have an exciting and relatable subject, but they also need to include innovative ways to continue beyond the piqued interest phase. Since the process of IB learning includes both exciting topics and continued questioning and research, it only makes sense to incorporate technology into your lessons.

Utilizing Technology for IB Education

With a growing number of educational programs and apps available every day, utilizing technology in the classroom is easier now than ever before. There are hundreds of tech choices available that will enhance an IB education experience and give children the tools they’ll need to problem solve and research.

“Children naturally explore and learn about their environments through inquiry, and computer technologies offer an accessible vehicle for extending the domain and range of this inquiry,” explain researchers from Mount Saint Mary College in the Early Childhood Education Journal article, March 2010.

How to Use Technology

Since the IB educational technique is a process for learning, not traditional information regurgitation, it will help children throughout their educational careers and beyond. The process involves noticing scenarios in detail, learning to ask imperative questions, researching those questions for solutions, and presenting the information to others in a way that is clear and concise.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand how technology could aid students during this process. Depending upon which media outlet is chosen, technology can be used in practically every aspect of IB education. It can be used to supply intriguing scenarios for analysis through videos or puzzles, as well as provide unlimited research materials to help students find solutions to the problem areas they outlined in the earliest steps. Technology can even be used in the final steps – or the presentation portion of IB learning – which encourages students to explain their findings to others.

Technology and the IB Advantage

“Inquiry-based learning is a process where students become involved in their own learning. Inquiry-based learning builds on student passion and results in increased student agency,” explains professors at the University of New Hampshire.

IB education is a highly engaging teaching process because it is focused on areas that are highly interesting to students and hands them the keys to begin learning on their own. Adding technology to the mix only serves to strengthen this desire to learn. If you want to learn more about how Tessa incorporates IB learning in their early education classrooms, check out the Program of Inquiry here.

What Is Inquiry-Based Education?

What Is Inquiry-Based Education?

As an educator or parent, few things are questioned more than how to spark learning interest in our children.  Trying to find what motivates our children to learn and avoid the dreaded “I don’t know” answers can be a daunting task. Because of this, many are turning to a technique known as inquiry-based education. So just what is inquiry-based education?

What Is Inquiry-Based Education

Inquiry-based (IB) education “is more than asking a student what he or she wants to know… it’s about triggering curiosity,” explains the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Essentially, IB learning places the responsibility of learning on the shoulders of the students rather than emphasizing teaching by the educators. In other words, it is finding a way to pique children’s natural interest to learn and using that as fuel to continue learning further.

By utilizing tactics that shift the learning process from the responsibility of the teacher to being led by individual students, IB education creates a more engaging educational experience. It is a strategy that goes beyond the books and encourages children to think freely and deeply to form their own understanding of various subjects.

Piquing Curiosity

The most important aspect of IB education is piquing the curiosity of students. Finding out what motivates them and getting children to take the reins of their own education is at the root of this learning process. So how do you go about triggering their drive to learn?

This is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of IB learning, and not one that has a direct answer. For some, motivation can be as simple as keeping it relatable (scenarios about Christmas gifts or Halloween candy for example), while others have better luck using things that spark creativity or imagination (artwork, videos, puzzles).

“You have to model your own curiosity quotient – that hunger to learn that defines how we advance our knowledge of the world… think about your content area… What new piece of information might help you trigger your own enthusiasm that can then trigger your students’ curiosity?” writes Edutopia.org.

The Scientific Method

Once you have discovered what interests them, the next step in IB learning is to switch the focus from teaching to learning. How? Students are urged to come up with their most burning questions about the topic.

Think of the IB learning process in terms of the Scientific Method. First, ask students to observe the topic you presented to them and ask them to give it some thought. Once they familiarize themselves with the topic, have them form questions and think of possible answers to their questions. Ask them to come up with potential solutions or experiment with different outcomes of the scenario before taking another look at their progress and concluding what they’ve learned.

Step 1: Look at the Topic

If utilizing a method similar to the scientific method, once your students’ curiosity is piqued, ask them to take note of what they see. Have them document scenarios, write or discuss down details, and simply describe what it is that is in front of them.

This process will help them to better identify a topic and give them additional information for the next few steps. Encourage children to be as detailed as possible in their descriptions. This step is one of the greatest benefits of IB learning: noticing what’s around them and deciphering what aspects are most important to their scenarios.

Step 2: Question, Question, Question

After students have had ample time to note what is in front of them, the next step is to heavily emphasize their curiosity. This is done by getting them to begin questioning what they see. IB learning focuses on inquiry, or the desire to learn more, which begins by asking questions.

In this step, students are encouraged to think critically about the scenario in front of them and document any questions they may have. No question is off the table, and the more they question, the deeper their understanding will be so encouragement is the key. The most effective questions are the ones that drive students to have even more questions, so the focus of an educator in IB learning is more on sparking interest and less on giving answers.

Step 3: Research Their Questions

Once students have come up with their most intriguing questions, it’s time to find the answers. With IB learning, however, the students are in charge of finding their own answers. Dedicating class time and resources for children to conduct their own research is crucial to the process. This gives kids the means and the time to find answers to their own questions in a (somewhat) guided space.

The deeper the curiosity for their questions, the deeper the student’s drive to research and find answers. It is this drive and curiosity that will fuel their desire to truly learn a topic by their own inquiries rather than by traditional teaching methods.

Step 4: Hypothesize and Present

After students have used critical thinking to develop questions and research solutions to potential problems, it’s time to guide them into the hypothesis presentation stage. This is the part of the process that has students focusing on what they’ve learned and are tasked with organizing their findings to present them to others in the classroom.

Since learning is not only about discovery and critical thinking, but also about successful communication and understanding, it’s important that students be able to present what they’ve learned to others. This step forces children to understand the scenario even further, in order to find ways to share it and make sense of it to other students.

Step 5: Reflection and Critique

Perhaps the most important step of IB learning is the final phase – the reflection portion. It’s in this stage that students are asked to evaluate what they learned and to make note of any issues they came across in their research and presentations.

This step gets children to think more on what type of questions got them the furthest in their studies and which theories worked best as well. It can also help them to highlight areas that weren’t so helpful, giving them insight on what to try (or avoid) next time.

The IB Learning Experience

Overall, IB learning is simply learning that is driven by students’ own curiosity. It is highly effective because it gives students a sense of thoroughly understanding topics – or becoming experts, per se – and teaches them the art of deeper learning.

While there are no set formats for IB learning, the key is to find what motivates children and get them to think freely to develop a deeper understanding. The best way to do this? Get them asking questions and give them the resources to find their own answers. This is IB learning.

Focus on International Baccalaureate: The Teaching Differences

Focus on International Baccalaureate: The Teaching Differences

The benefits of International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are unparalleled during primary and secondary education, as well as post-graduation. IB programs give students a unique learning experience they will carry with them throughout their educational careers and beyond.

According to the IB organization’s website, the programs are gaining momentum collectively. Their latest annual statistics bulletin, published in March 2019, showed an increase of 39 percent in global IB program participation.

So, what is it about IB teaching programs that is garnering so much attention in the educational world? To put it simply, it’s an educational curriculum that’s focused on individual thinking with global responsibility.

To understand its effectiveness, we must first understand its differences. In other words, how does IB teaching differ from traditional teaching methods?

The IB Program

The International Baccalaureate program is one that was founded in Switzerland half a century ago with the purpose of broadening global learning and responsibility. As such, the teachings have since expanded immensely and developed methods that promote this multicultural educational experience.

Since its creation, the IB program has grown exponentially and is now incorporated in thousands of educational facilities worldwide. It is also offered across four different educational program levels ranging from early childhood education up through adult career programs. Each level focuses on different aspects of multicultural learning, but the techniques share the same basis. They are also distinctly different from traditional teaching methods.

IB Teaching Differences

IB programs are focused on giving students the ability to expand their knowledge outside the four walls of their homes and classrooms. The teaching is based on global communities and critical thinking that impacts larger-scale communities. In other words, it is focused on tearing down the cultural divides that separate us with traditional learning.

The cornerstone of IB teaching lies with bilingualism and multilingualism. In order to break down cultural barriers, we must first be able to communicate with other cultures. For that reason, foreign language is an integral part of all IB programs.

IB learning is about so much more than bilingualism, however. Course offerings in foreign languages alone do not qualify an educational facility for IB learning credentials. The IB learning experience is about using those courses as one part of a multi-faceted teaching approach.

Multi-Faceted Teaching

According to the International Baccalaureate Organization’s website, there are specific criteria that define an IB program and differentiate it from standardized teaching. The teaching approach must include the following:

  • An emphasis on critical thinking and encouraging students to challenge their knowledge
  • Key teachings on procuring credible, quality research on all inquests
  • Encouraging students to think on a global scale – outside of local and national levels and agendas
  • Focus on developing multilingual skills to expand global communication opportunities

Overall, the difference between IB teaching and traditional standardized teaching approaches lies with the bigger picture. The focus of IB teaching is to give students a solid foundation for learning that will drive them in their educational careers for years to come. It is to give students a sense of purpose measured well beyond localized issues and test results. IB teaching instead, focuses on arming students with tools to break down international barriers, and the drive to actively participate in the world around them. It is a method that instills a feeling of multicultural connectivity and global responsibility – one which will follow them throughout their lives.