Professional development OU report 2016

Analysing the trends, challenges and developments discussed over the last few years in the NMC Horizon Reports, it becomes apparent that some of them are more mainstream and are considered to be of more influence than others. Blended Learning Approaches and Focus on Measuring Learning were seen to be key…

This report as it lists and analyses a number of areas that are likely to influence pedagogy over the next years. I find these new forms of teaching and learning exciting.

It is fascinating to look at some of them that seemed to be so futuristic and complicated to implement, and put them in the context of changes that happened over the years (e.g., using mobiles for reading, learning, wearable for training).

I am curious to see whether the predictions will be correct. Different pedagogies interested me as they affect me personally or are just food for thought (as I so far can not decide what to think about them). When preparing for this interview, I also came across some recent resources that predict the importance of very similar trends in the future (Connie Malamed and Tim Green and Abbie Brown podcasts).

Pedagogies discussed in the report:

  • Learning through social media
  • Productive Failure
  • Teach back
  • Design thinking
  • Learning from the Crowd
  • Learning through video games
  • Formative analytics
  • Learning for the Future
  • Translanguaging
  • Blockchain for learning

I will briefly discuss some of these pedagogies

The two that I think to affect me personally in the highest degree are (my learning and communication specifically) are Translanguaging & Learning Through Social Media

I am really curious about the future trends for Learning from the crowd and Learning through Video Games and Learning for the future.

What I heard about and was interested to find out more about: Productive failure, Teach-Back, Formative Analytics.

Finally, what I can’t put my head around is Blockchain for learning and Design Thinking.


Translanguaging, described as moving flexibly and fluidly between languages, affects me personally for an obvious reason. English is not my mother tongue. It is not even a second language. My primary degree was in Russian language and literature, and I managed to master Russian to the level that at some stage many years ago, I could have been easily taken for a native Russian speaker. I stopped actively using that language about 15 years ago when I started learning English. The approach towards learning was different in the case of both of these languages (my Russian was an academic level – I was able to read and comprehend philosophical literature. My English is an everyday language where I often still need a dictionary to get the meaning of some words). At this stage after 15 years of using English every day and not using Russian, I can still pick a Dostoyevsky’s novel in Russian and read it and understand in yet, I would struggle to have a fluent conversation. With English is the other way around. I can communicate fluently, yet it would take me longer to read something like Dostoyevsky and would definitely won’t give me pleasure as reading in Polish or Russian would.

In the education context, translanguaging strategies are about allowing flexibility and fluidity between languages what becomes more important as we live, work and learn in the globalised world where learning and communication often occur in the tongue that is not native to learners. Translanguaging supports the integration of mobile and social technologies into communication and learning to enhance it. The work is to be designed with the multilingual students in mind and allows using preferred languages in some situations. The challenge for strategies engaging abilities of bilingual students is to do this in the way so that monolingual learners are not excluded.

  • At my early years of studying English, when I was not able to find resources on Polish websites I often turned to Russian sites (that market is much bigger)
  • Often when brainstorming, I create mind maps. Before arriving at the final version of the product, I record a flow of thoughts and ideas that would have words both in Polish and English (regardless of what is the language of the final product)
  • Searching for resources in Polish to better understand subject
  • Translate button/extension on social media sites, browsers, etc., to help to understand content and threads written in multiple languages.
  • Using a preferred language in social situations in addition to the main language.
  • Make sure monolingual people are not excluded (e.g., in Poland giving an important piece of reading only available in English would be disadvantaging non-English speaking students).
  • Ensuring that there is an awareness that the bilingual person might not be comfortable communicating in the second language
  • Recognising that speaking in the second language might affect the ability to express creativity, ideas, perspectives.

Learning for the future

This is very important, and while I am not sure that it should be looked at as a separate pedagogy, it is important to educate people that will be able to efficiently undertake responsibilities and tasks that might be required from them in the future. We can’t possibly know now what they will be expected to do, so how to prepare for that? It is all about building capacity to learn. It is not the content and knowledge that is in the centre but the ability to learn, synthesise, relearn, change perspectives. This approach is about helping students to develop skills needed to succeed in the future. Among these skills are critical thinking, social competencies (required for learning and work), resourcefulness in learning, independent and self-directed learning (ability to decide what I need and want to learn, and how am I going to do that), social responsibility (innovate and contribute), and cultural and interpersonal understanding.

Learning through social media

I am a curious, interested, tech-savvy and when I am online, for most of the time, I learn something. Whether this is a new interesting article about trends and practices in eLearning; Ted Talk about the strategies to manage change or our lives; working with some online tool, or simply looking for a dinner recipe – I learn. This doesn’t happen at the college or work. I might later use what I have learnt in more formal settings, but learning occurs informally. Social networking sites can be a source of information and expert advice, a forum for discussion or criticism. This social learning pedagogy closely linked with the connectivist principles and challenges – the information is there, learner need to know A) where and B) how to find it, and C) connect pieces of information; and D) how to assess value and validity of the information. What authors focus on is the actual social media (not the entire online network) as a platform where learning occurs. Some interesting examples of social media profiles adapted for education were given – a very creative way of engaging students and gaining their attention. Unconventional but I am sure this approach can be used in many contexts. It takes time and requires lecturer’s enthusiasm and expertise (both as a subject matter expert and skilled facilitator to engage the audience). Learning in this context happens informally, and it is called learning in the loosest sense. What is supported: creativity, collaboration, communication and sharing of information. This teaching and learning (pedagogy) can be successful if the content is reliable and attractive and the communication and discussion can accompany it.

Examples: @RealTimeWWII at Twitter or Samuel Pepys diary on Twitter as well.

This kind of learning is flexible and learner I in control (can access and leave as they wish, there is no curriculum. The facilitator can be a co-learner as well.

Social learning is an ongoing trend as the authors of the report stated, and for many people, Social Learning is a Way of Life. Adapting the Learning from the crowd pedagogy is stepping one step further.

Learning from the crowd

Adapting the Learning from the crowd pedagogy is stepping one step further – that’s what I thought. Authors say that crowds wisdom is not used to its full potential, there is no structure and best practice for doing that in learning. But sharing knowledge, generating resources and content, solving the problem and sharing ideas and discussions while not in a strictly educational context, already happens.

I actually think that it is difficult to draw a borderline between social and crowd learning. I believe that the examples of possible applications of crowdsourcing can be already found (collecting and curating teaching resources, letting students share and discuss their work online). Maybe some more complex and science-specific examples are not there yet (providing opinions and data for use in project and research studies or research initiated by the public).

The challenges that the crowdsourced learning presents are the same as those of Connectivism and Social Learning (the quality and validity of the contributors, therefore the information).

Some examples given by authors are:
  • Wikipedia, or Citizen Science projects:
  • iSpot for recognition of living creatures birds animals, insects, etc.
  • Foldit online game where players decipher structures of cells
Crowdsource pedagogy assumes that not scientists but learners (the crowd) would propose a project, run it and promote findings. I think we are still miles away from embracing the full potential due to the challenges around the quality of the crowd information and knowledge.

Learning through video games

As for this pedagogy, I agree that it will play a much bigger role in the future. They are mentioned as definite trends for the future in C. Malamed’s and some other podcast I have listened to. Even though I am not game native (one of the technologies I was never interested in or keen to learn or adapt), I see how beneficial games could be. In fact, many games are already about learning. Some people argue that games have their own pedagogies – they do not focus on facts and information but rather present players with the problem and allow going through the process of finding the solution. This way they can assess particular skills and dispositions that are relevant in a certain context. They allow doing this in a safe environment. Video games or virtual or augmented realities could be great ways to immerse learners in almost real-life situations. “Players are able to step into unfamiliar roles and context, making meaningful and consequential decisions.” (e.g., flight simulators, city planning, fireman training or even a cultural awareness training for expanding globalising companies).

There are already large communities developed around gaming – people share knowledge and help and mentor each other. What is suggested that will happen in the future is that study on players motivation and triggers of learning could benefit education. If these processes are better understood, elements of gaming could be applied in the development of the curriculum. From the teacher’s point of view, games use elements present in other pedagogies, e.g. a workgroup or team play, productive failure, but provide a different way of providing these experiences. Some of the trends mentioned were, for example, engaging students in designing games (I can see here the importance of coding mentioned in one for the podcasts) or expanding/modifying existing games (social or crowd activity).

The huge challenge is that game development require qualified resources and budget, and that factor slows its use in education.

I can see however why games do not suit everyone or are not suitable for some context. But isn’t it the thing with any technology, tool or pedagogy? We all have our own needs and preferences.

What I found interestingly surprising was one of the concluding statements that “realistic graphics seem t have a negative effect on learning”.

Productive failure

This method is about giving students complex problems to solve before they receive more information about how it can be done. The aim is that students work together, engage their prior knowledge in search of the solutions, evaluate and explain the best answer. Only after going through this process, they are given the theoretical foundation – an explanation of the essential concepts and methods. Students can be hesitant and unwilling as they often feel unconfident – they might want to receive instructions first. This method requires them to embrace challenge and uncertainty. It develops creativity and resilience in learners.


This pedagogy focuses on how learning can be achieved by explaining topics to others. After being presented with expert knowledge students attempt to explain what they understood or teach back the topic to others. It helps to understand a topic by reframing what they understood and by explaining it in the way that other could understand.

Formative Analytics.

Analytics is a trend that is mentioned in many publications and podcasts that I came across. Tracking and analysing students behaviour can help to measure and predict the learning process. We can track many things such as time spent on certain topics and pages, performance, assessment results. Analysing and interpreting can give important information helping to decide who might need assistance, how to change instruction or amend the curriculum. Formative analytics are more focused on giving feedback to students for future learning. “They support learners to reflect on what way they have learned, what can be improved, which goals can be achieved, and how they should move forward.”

Blockchain for learning

Similar concept as that of bitcoin. The digital events are to be stored on individual computers rather than in the central database. The records of intellectual achievement could be stored and exchanged similarly as the bitcoin currency is.

Design Thinking

This pedagogy involves “civic literacy, cultural awareness, critical and creative thinking, and technical skills”. Learners are presented with the problem and are expected to find a solution to it using the methods used by designers. This involves experimenting, prototyping, looking for feedback, redesigning. Learners are in the context and are expected to think line designers would – be creative, innovative but also think about the needs of people.

Brown, A. & Green, T. (Producers). (2016, December 30). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design, Educational Technology, and Learning Sciences [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from

Malamed, C (Producer). 2015
OU Report on Innovating Pedagogy 2015:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Scroll to Top