23 Sep 2013

MOOCs and more: Disruptive changes from latest innovations in education

Over the past year, innovations in teaching and learning have disrupted education, according to a report published by The Open University (OU). Innovating Pedagogy 2013 highlights ten methods of teaching, learning and assessment that are changing global education, including massive open online learning (MOOCs), crowd learning and learning from gaming.

Mike Sharples, Professor of Educational Technology and lead author of the report, said: “MOOCs have hit the headlines, but other innovations are also transforming education. Until now, the focus has been on how technologies such as e-books and tablet computers are driving change. This report reveals the influence of new methods of teaching and learning, such as seamless learning that connects personal experiences across classroom, home and outdoors.”

As well as showing developments since the 2012 report, the research has highlighted six new pedagogies which are predicted to have a big impact on the sector worldwide:

• Crowd learning, which harnesses the local knowledge of many people to answer questions or address immediate problems. The iSpot website, which helps people share and learn more about nature, encapsulates this and has celebrated 250,000 observations.

• Digital scholarship enhances scholarly practice through digital and networked technologies such as open access publishing.

• Geo-learning uses the location detection of smartphones to provide context-based learning materials. For example, learning about a historical event could be situated in the place where the event occurred, giving a rich sensory experience.

• Learning from gaming exploits the power of digital games for education, with new approaches linking the motivational elements of games with specific learning outcomes.

• Maker culture describes the informal networks of people who share practical learning in areas such as 3D modelling to traditional handicrafts, motivated by fun and self-fulfilment.

• Citizen inquiry refers to the mass participation of the public in structured investigations, such as mapping climate change or recording bird populations.

Mike continued: “The innovations in this report, if they are to succeed, need to complement formal education rather than trying to replace it. From children engaged in outdoor science explorations to engineers receiving training on the job, powerful learning comes from new ways in which activity can be reflected upon, carried forward and shared, with the assistance of personal technologies. And although the technologies may change, the innovations in pedagogy will bring lasting benefit.”

The Innovating Pedagogy 2013 report was published by The Open University on 9 September 2013 and aims to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. It is available online at

Notes to Editors
The report was compiled by Open University academics based in the Institute of Educational Technology and the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology.

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