11. Innovative Pedagogies

Innovative Pedagogies

Essential Questions

What is innovative pedagogy?

What is a flipped classroom?

What is gamification?

What is SOLE?

What are some ways to make the way content is presented innovative?

What makes innovative pedagogy an effective way of learning in the classroom?


Log into the OneNote Class Notebook for your section to access the Peer Team Teaching Planning Guide for this week.

Understanding Pedagogy

Many of you are familiar with the dictionary definition of pedagogy: the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Sounds great! But, what does this definition mean? How does this relate to me and my teaching? Let’s dig deeper!

This chapter is designed to further develop your pedagogy as a teacher, and develop skills for innovative pedagogical practices.

Innovative Pedagogy in Action

Think back to Chapter 3: Instructional Design. We learned that Instructional design is the practice of creating “instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing” (Merrill, et al., 1996). Innovative peda

We have selected three methods of instruction that we feel are particularly innovative in educational technology: Flipped Classroom, Gamification, and Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE).

Flipped Classroom

A flipped classroom is just as it sounds: doing what is done in class at home, and doing what is done at home in class. Let’s break it down. In a classroom setting, the instructor typically presents material and assigns homework based of off that material. In a flipped classroom model, instructional material is given in reading material or videos and done at home, which leaves in class time for the students to engage in active learning (Herreid & Schiller, 2013). In their article,  Herreid and Schiller (2013) stated “A guiding principle of the flipped classroom is that work typically done as homework (e.g., problem solving, essay writing) is better undertaken in class with the guidance of the instructor. Listening to lecture or watching videos is better accomplished at home”.
Flipped Classroom graphic
Resource from: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-05-07-what-why-and-how-to-flip-your-classroomThere are many advantages of a flipped classroom (Herreid & Schiller, 2013):

  • Allows students to move at their own pace
  • Doing “homework” in class can give teachers better insight into student difficulties and learning styles
  • Teachers can more easily customize and update the curriculum and provide it to students 24/7, and use of technology is flexible and appropriate
  • Classroom time can be used more effectively and creatively
  • Can increase student achievement, interest, and engagement
Now, let’s see this concept in action! The video below is an example how a teacher introduces a flipped classroom model to their students and their parents:

Now let’s view an example of a lesson:

Jon Bergmann’s blog also has some excellent examples and resources.


Playing games in the classroom? Yes, yes, and yes! Gamifying your classroom can be extremely fun and a perfect learning opportunity for students. Gamification is “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity.” You’re all familiar with gamification in business — think about how many points you earn at Aspen Coffee or Fuzzy’s Tacos? How many of you are earning Pocket Points right now?
Watch how this science teacher made learning science a game:

Paul Anderson’s videos and website are great examples of how to gamify your classroom (he is also known for his flipped classroom videos!) Paul Anderson’s TEDtalk is such a great resource for learning about innovative technologies and instructional pedagogies. He talks about how schools should be FUN and that failure is OK – that it is part of the learning process. Further, he discusses how students learn at different “levels” and that they should be enabled to “up” their levels. Hence, his drive to reinvent his class as a videogame. He took the most compelling elements of gaming and then applied it to his classroom.
Alice Keeler’s articles on Getting Started with Gamification and Gamification of the Classroom are great tools to getting started!
A more thorough framework comes from Yo-kai Chou. His TEDtalk provides foundational strategies for gamification. He describes his octalysis framework and how to gamify your classroom. Below is an image of his octalysis framework that includes examples of tools and strategies:
Michael Matera’s, EXPlore like a Pirate, is an excellent example of how to gamify a classroom. His blog provides a great model for setting up and maintaining a gamified classroom.
Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE)
Self-organized learning environment (SOLE) was developed as a method of learning by Sugata Mitra. Mitra was inspired by several theories centered on constructivism, child development, and social cognitive growth (Mitra et al., 2005; Inamdar, 2004; Mitra, 2003, 2004, 2014; Piaget, 1957; Vygotsky, 1978), and the belief that “students will learn through exploration, collaboration, and curiosity” (Schwark, 2017).
According to School in the Cloud, SOLE is:
Student Driven
  • Students are motivated by choice and interests
  • Students drive process
  • Students learn socially
  • Students collaborate in the process
  • Encourage innate sense of wonder
  • Curiosity helps construct understanding
  • Students are open minded
  • Instructor is open minded
  • Critical thinking is paramount
  • Effective educators are encouraging
  • Effective educators are patient

SOLE Sessions

Self-Organized Learning Environment is a learning environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and creativity through the internet. Learners organize themselves into groups, while also having the freedom to jointly use resources and move around or migrate to another group, all with limited instructor intervention. Each session begins with a “big question” posed by the instructor, one that is intended to spark students’ sense of curiosity, wonder, or intrigue. Toward the end of a session, the learners share what they learned and reflect on the process (Mitra, 2014; “School in the Cloud”, 2016). Mitra (2014) stated, “In a SOLE, children seem to create and maximize meaning out of the information content of what they are researching” (p. 556). Below is a typical timeline for a SOLE session:
First 5 Minutes: Questions
  • Pose a “big question”
  • The question will be framed as a genuine process of discovery in order to promote curiosity
    Explain the SOLE Process
30-45 Minutes: Investigation
  • Students work in student formed groups to find answers to the big question online. During this time, students explore the big question collaboratively, while the instructor provides encouragement and facilitation.
  • The instructor should encourage students to resolve any group issues themselves.
  • Students are encouraged to collaborate within their group or move around to other groups.
  • Few rules are given to the students, and this lack of rules enables children to change groups, talk to each other and other groups, and walk around to observe their peers’ work.
10-20 Minutes: Review
  • Invite the students to share their stories of collective discovery. Talk about similarities/differences between their answers, help to see links to other areas.
  • Encourage debate. Facilitate discussion about the question and investigative process
  • Engage the students in their own review: What would they do differently next time? What do they think others did well?

The developing of a “big question” is extremely important! The “big question” is described as, “ones that don’t have an easy answer. They are often open and difficult; they may even be unanswerable. The aim of them is to encourage deep and long conversations, rather than finding easy answers” (“School in the Cloud”, 2016). Keep in mind, as the instructor you are trying to elicit critical thinking, collaborative work, and discovering theories throughout the children’s learning process and provide connections across content areas. School in the Cloud provides an excellent outline and examples for you to get started.

You may want to start with simple questions. These may include:

  • Where is……..?
  • Who is…….?
  • What is the largest animal in the world?
  • What makes trees green?
  • What makes the sky blue?

Some harder questions may be introduced as children get more comfortable answering simple questions, or if they’re already proficient with search and language, you can start asking some tougher questions that don’t have such a direct answer.

These should encourage children to explore a wider topic, connect a number of subjects, and develop a deeper understanding of their answer. It’s the difference between “What is the largest animal in the world?” and “Why are there no animals bigger than a blue whale?” (“School in the Cloud”, 2016)

There are really no limits to what a Big Question can be, as long as it is thought-provoking and captures children’s attention. Below is a list of Big Questions organized by Learning Objective or Topic that will help you get started:

Digging deeper into science concepts
  • What would happen to the Earth if all insects disappeared?
  • Is life on earth sustainable?
Introducing new math concepts
  • What are fractals?
Investigating and understanding historical facts
  • Who built the pyramids and why?
Abstract thinking concepts
  • Can trees think?
  • Does a frog know it’s a frog?
  • Can you kill a goat by staring at it?
  • Will robots be conscious one day?
Developing an understanding of key concepts in a contextual setting
  • What is technology?

Remember, “the questioning provides opportunities for students to explore a variety of sources,  extrapolate different answers, and  challenge one another. A key aspect of the big questions is that the purpose is not to discover the ‘right’ answer, but rather to develop methods and skills that are transferable and applicable” (Schwark, 2017).

ISTE-T Standards

1. Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

  • a. Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness
  • b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources
  • c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes
  • d. Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments

2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the ISTE·S.

  • a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity
  • b. Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress
  • c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources
  • d. Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching

Key Terms

Flipped Classroom

Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE)


Innovative teaching



Edsurge – What, Why, and How to Flip Your Classroom

Edsurge – Six Ingredients for Sweetening Your Flipped Classroom Recipe

Twitter: #FlippedClass

Pinterest: Flipped Classroom

Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom

Upside Down and Inside Out: Flip Your Classroom to Improve Student Learning


Twitter: #Gamification

Pinterest: Gamification

Google Plus: Gamification in Education

Facebook: Gamification for Education Group

Yu-kai Chou What is gamification?

Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis Framework

Alice Keeler’s guide to  Getting Started with Gamification

Alice Keeler’s guide to Gamification of the classroom

Gamify your classroom: Class Craft

A Practitioner’s Guide to Gamification of Education

Free Badges



School in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra’s TedTalk

The Hole in the Wall Project

Applying SOLE to the Classroom


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