Play, Wonder, Empathy – Latest Educational Trends, Says The Open University

My long-time friend and colleague Mike Sharples told me about the recently released Innovating Pedagogy 2019 report from The Open University (U.K.). It’s the seventh in an annual series initiated by Mike. Each report aims to describe a number of promising trends in learning and teaching. There’s not much by way of formal evaluation of effectiveness and outcomes, but there are illuminating examples, and leads and links to resources to help adoption and further development.

The 2019 report describes 10 trends, as listed below. At this website you can click for brief summaries of any of the 10 that takes your fancy. There are also links to the previous six reports.

It strikes me that several of the 10 deserve thought, from the point of view of improving how we teach intro statistics. The one that immediately caught my eye was wonder.

I’ve always found randomness, and random sampling variability, to be the source of wonder. People typically don’t appreciate the wonder of randomness, nor do they appreciate that, in the short term, randomness is totally unpredictable and often surprising, even astonishing. In the long term, however, the laws of probability dictate that the observed proportions of particular outcomes will be very close to what we expect.

Prompted by the examples and brief discussion in the report of wonder, I can think of my years of work with the dances (of the means, of the CIs, of the p values, and more) as aiming to bring the wonder of randomness to students. Often we’ve discussed patterns and predictions and the hopelessness of making short-term predictions. We’ve compared the dances we see on screen–dancing before our eyes–with physical processes in the world that we might regard as random. (To see the dances, use ESCI, or go to YouTube and search for ‘dance of the p values’ and ‘significance roulette’.)

I suggest it’s worth poking about in this latest report, and in the earlier reports, for trends that might spark your own thinking about statistics teaching and learning.


The ten 2019 trends:

Playful learningEvoke creativity, imagination and happiness 

Learning with robotsUse software assistants and robots as partners for conversation

Decolonising learningRecognize, understand, and challenge the ways in which our world is shaped by colonialism

Drone-based learningDevelop new skills, including planning routes and interpreting visual clues in the landscape

Learning through wonderSpark curiosity, investigation, and discovery

Action learningTeam-based professional development that addresses real and immediate problems

Virtual studiosHubs of activity where learners develop creative processes together 

Place-based learningLook for learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment

Making thinking visibleHelp students visualize their thinking and progress

Roots of empathyDevelop children’s social and emotional understanding

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