Kids are distracted. Parents are frustrated. Teachers are feeling all the feelings as they bear the brunt of teaching remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And everyone is asking this: How can you make online classes more fun and interesting to students?
Over the past six months, many students and teachers had to get used to learning a different way, with classes being brought online on many different platforms. As the new school year approaches, many educators who will remain online for the unforeseeable future are looking for ways to make classes more engaging. Inquiry-based learning online could be one way to do this.
What Is Inquiry-Based Learning?
The idea of inquiry-based learning is nothing new. Instead of the students being told to sit and absorb everything that’s being taught, they are urged to be curious and ask questions. Students guide their classes by asking questions and then finding their answers. What is new is how teachers are trying to use this online.
While it may not be easy to incorporate inquiry-based learning at all grade levels and for all subjects, teachers can encourage all students to be curious and ask questions. This can make all classes, even those in-person, more interesting.
Introducing Inquiry-Based Learning Online
Let’s face it, listening to a lecture in person can get boring. When you do it online, that feeling can multiply ten-fold. This is why inquiry-based learning can be effective because it keeps students actively engaged. But, getting the process started may not always be easy.
Carolyn Bickers, the co-founder at Beagle Learning, tells Parentology most of the teaching tools out there are still built for teacher-led activities. Platforms like Beagle Learning support inquiry-based learning by making it easier for students to choose questions and find the answers.
“Inquiry learning works best for projects, units and even courses where students can choose what they want to learn and works less well for teaching specific skills or facts,” Bickers tells Parentology. “This is because the inquiry approach is based on student choice.”
Students following an inquiry-based learning process, ask, investigate, and answer questions to research a topic or finish a project.
“In contrast to memorizing facts and knowledge, as students progress through steps in an inquiry learning process they utilize transferable skills like leadership, consensus-building, research skills, writing, speaking, and asking questions to deeply understand and apply content.,” says Bickers.
According to the Canadian Education Association, research has found that inquiry-based learning can motivate students to learn and advance their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Bickers says that this can pay off later in life. The skills can help people solve the big, world-threatening challenges around us, but also help kids see how to take action that can improve their local community and personal lives.
“We need people with these new skills now. And this is why inquiry-based learning is more important than ever. It helps students to feel empowered to take action in the world around them,” adds Bickers.
Below is a video explaining how Beagle’s inquiry-based learning system works.