The new kid on the block “Phenomenon Based Learning” turns teaching learning practices on its head.
The Blooms Taxonomy meant that the first step would be to seek knowledge, comprehend it, apply it in real life scenarios, analyze and further synthesize with other concepts and subjects. With Phenomenon Based Learning, this linear progression turns into a roller coaster ride.
The learner starts with a phenomenon or a real life scenario, analyses the linkages with different concepts and subjects, identifies the gaps in knowledge and understanding, seeks out that knowledge, comprehends it for each subject area and then synthesizes it. So essentially what was a process of construction has now been broken into deconstruction and then construction. First de-construct the phenomenon into different concepts and processes, understand them and then reconstruct them into the original phenomenon and probably draw parallels with other phenomenons.
This also means that it can be more learner centric as there are no set ways in which the phenomenon can be deconstructed and hence there is no specific pathway for construction. Each learner will do it in his or her own manner, the number of linkages and the pathway chosen will depend on their prior knowledge. Educators can use a number of online platforms like Edmodo, Schoology, Flinnt etc. to engage their learners in a discussion on what subjects and concepts need to be learnt so that the phenomenon can be understood. Going forward edtech platforms could show forward and backward linkages to a certain phenomenon, this could assist the learner and the teacher to chart out their individual learning path based on their current understanding.
One of the most important outcomes from this shift will be, establishing relevance of the content being learnt, the learners will no longer sit with a question mark on their mind as to why they are learning a particular concept. They themselves would have established that they need to learn some content or subject to figure out a phenomenon, the relevance of the content being learnt will be clearly established and hence the interest and motivation to learn will be much higher than in the current subject oriented approach.
This will also signify the beginning of the end of course books as we know them, the teachers and learners will have to research a phenomenon, they will compile the content dynamically. As they keep de-constructing the phenomenon, they will identify what they need to learn and they will also choose how best to learn it. Educators can share curated Open Educational Resources (OER’s), personalized according to the needs of the learners using the social learning platforms and this sequence of resources will be the new coursebook. The learners will use these OER’s in the form of videos, animation, notes, documents etc. to gain knowledge and comprehension.
Further the educators can ask the learners to collaboratively create content in the form of Videos, Animations, Wikis, Mind-maps, PPTs and Documents using online platforms like Google Classrooms, Wikispaces, Storify, Flickr etc. to develop and demonstrate their understanding of the phenomenon.
Edtech already has a variety of resources, tools and platforms which can be used at different stages of the Phenomenon based learning cycle. Further development in terms of big data will bring in tools to personalize students learning in a manner that has not been possible till now. Thus Phenomenon Based Learning is an opportunity to integrate the best of learner centric approaches with edtech. It also is the way forward as it is closer to how learning happens in real life, an unexplained phenomenon starts off an enquiry, becomes a lifelong pursuit and results in new knowledge and understanding.