Many of us know why we need to change the way how we teach at schools and higher institutions for example to align with 21st century requirements, yet many of us do not know how to do that. Despite many theories of teaching strategies have been introduced for the past 40 years, we rarely looked into the scholarly approach, but we think we could devise something from our own idea.
The ideas of collaborative, cooperative, team based, active or problem based learning have been there for the past 30-40 years, but the educationists perhaps did not sufficiently lead as to translate these approaches into mass action. These strategies, have been long researched and proven in terms of its effectiveness but it is only scattering around the articles in journals and proceedings.
So what is 21st century learning? using ipad, smartphone, tablets and laptop in the class, do presentation with technology, talk to each other etc etc?
NO, that is just a small pieces of the big jigsaw.
TEACHER CENTRED TOWARDS STUDENT CENTRED LEARNING
At UTP, we believed that in order for us to attain 21st century learning skills, we should move from teacher centred towards students centred learning. The transformation from teacher centred towards students centred learning happened since year 2015. In 2016, we carefully researched and selected some pedagogical strategies that fit our requirements to produce future ready graduates. All the academic staff are compulsory to attend active learning training (2 days training) as this is our base and fundamental training, to strengthen the why and how, for which they also learn about supporting and scaffolding the students learning, understanding students learning behaviour together with learning on how to plan their classroom activities. We introduce the staff with BOOKS END MODEL and alongside the staff would learn for at least 20 techniques of Active Learning, for which you could find more than hundred from the internet sources, but knowing how to devise the technique is important. Then, we encourage the staffs to conduct the approach in their class for at least a semester before they could attend the next training i.e. on cooperative learning.
DO THE COMPLEX ONE LATER
The staff could further enhance their knowledge by attending flipped classroom training while from time to time we expose the faculty members with some tools and technologies that could help their delivery using active or cooperative learning strategies. This is where technology enhanced active learning comes in. After the staff had carefully and successfully implemented some of these strategies, only then we invited them to attend PBL, which is much more complex, not only about crafting the case study or problems to be given to the students, but also to learn on facilitating the students effectively. We simply do not encourage our staff to jump straight away to PBL before trying other simpler approaches, because we believe, this does not only make the students felt traumatised and on top of that the staffs are not able to motivate back the students, yet even the staff themselves may face trauma, which stopping them from further conducting students centred learning (SCL).
BECOMING TRAINERS AND CHAMPIONS
Once the staff had successfully attended all these trainings, we invited some of them who are very passionate into teaching and learning because we want to groom them as the trainers and the change agents at the department. We wanted to make sure they become visible and empowered, and not only able to give training inside UTP, but be able to be the champion of of these initiatives. We also encourage them to participate in several exhibitions on T&L to showcase their innovations i.e. when they had started to blend their pedagogical approach with some new technology and tool. In addition, we encourage them to collect data be it from the validated instruments for survey, the students’ reflection and the students’ learning attainments, which they would later publish their work be it in a T&L conference or any related journals. We also encourage the staff to apply for Scholarships of Teaching and Learning grants (SoTL), which are available annually so they can think of what kind of pedagogical strategies they wanted to use in their class and what are the objectives of their research as to collect meaningful data.
OUR WAY FORWARD
Alhamdulillah from our recent survey, we found that about 50-60% of our staff are already starting to believe in the transformation from teacher centred towards SCL. There are yet still many things to be done but we are happy with the current progress at UTP. Insha Allah by the end of this year, perhaps we’ll be able to have our own Virtual Reality center (as for now we already have several classes for technology enhanced flipped classroom, cooperative learning and PBL), so our VR can be coupled with several pedagogical strategies adopted at UTP. We are also actively training not only our academic staff, but we are extending it to our support staff, Graduate Assistants (GA) and some of the UG and foundation students who are the change agents at the students level to make them in the loop and feel belonging to this transformation.
It is an exciting, thrilling and enjoying days ahead.
You just want to start? Let’s try active learning first.
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