Learning models are pedagogically driven, steeped in the nature of learning, and offer a framework to design learning experiences and environments that help people learn more deeply. These models are rooted in the learning sciences - the study of teaching and learning. This interdisciplinary field includes cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, information sciences, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, and other fields.
“Identifying the fundamentals of learning provides the design principles to shape both individual learning environments and wider systems.” (OECD, 2017; p. 22)
A resource to learn more about Innovative Learning Models : The OECD Handbook for Innovative Learning Environments.
Professional Learning is a critical part of any innovation. To explore more about models of professional learning please visit, the professional learning models area.
“Knowledge building refers to the process of creating new cognitive artifacts as a result of common goals, group discussions, and synthesis of ideas. These pursuits should advance the current understanding of individuals within a group, at a level beyond their initial level of knowledge, and should be directed towards advancing the understanding of what is known about that topic or idea” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003, p. 5) Knowledge building is more than "group work". It is crafted purposefully to use collective knowledge to build the capacities of individuals involved and the group as a whole.
"Knowledge building has been shown to yield advantages in literacy, in twenty-first century skills, in core content knowledge, in the ability to learn from text, and in other abilities. However, it is the fact that knowledge building involves students directly in creative and sustained work with ideas that makes it especially promising as the foundation for education in the knowledge age." Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter
The Knowledge Building Gallery is a collection of concrete inquiry tools and strategies based on knowledge building pedagogy, for educators and leaders to use. In knowledge building classrooms/organizations, learners are engaged as a knowledge building community to collaboratively identify problems of understanding, create theories, carry out research and investigations in order to refine their theories over time, revise their problems and strategies, and share and monitor community progress.
Knowledge Building in Action is a companion guide to the knowledge building gallery. This collection of stories is written by Ontario educators, and offers a glimpse of knowledge creation at all levels of schooling: primary, junior, intermediate, secondary, and leadership.
Educators and students become co-learners and producers of knowledge as they engage in authentic inquiry, based on their interests. Listen as they share their perceptions of themselves as learners and knowledge creators, and what they think works for them.
“In Inquiry Learning (IL), students learn content as well as discipline-specific reasoning skills and practices (often in scientific disciplines) by collaboratively engaging in investigations….IL (is) organized around relevant, authentic problems or questions…(and places) heavy emphasis on collaborative learning and activity...students are cognitively engaged in sensemaking, developing evidence-based explanations, and communicating their ideas. The teacher plays a key role in facilitating the learning process and may provide content knowledge on a just-in-time basis.” (Hmelo-Silver, Golan Duncan, Chinn, 2007; p. 100)
Collaborative inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical mindset that positions students’ questions, ideas, theories, and observations at the centre of the learning experience (Scardamalia, 2002). Students wrangle with relevant, authentic problems; and are cognitively engaged in collaborative sense-making, development of evidence-based explanations, and communication of their ideas.
Students are actively engaged with peers in collaborative learning - producing knowledge artefacts and continuously reflecting upon their understandings and their process (Bruner, 1961; Dewey, 1938; Papert, 1980).
This approach to teaching and learning is underpinned by the idea that educators and students together form a classroom learning community that collectively shares responsibility for learning and idea improvement through regular discussion (Scardamalia, 2002).
Role of the Educator
Educators have a critical role in facilitating the inquiry process, offering content knowledge/resources just-in-time. Educators facilitate collaborative inquiry by adopting a learner stance as a member of their classroom learning community to model: how to question, how to share and build-upon the community’s ideas, how to test or investigate ideas/theories, how to synthesize ideas/information/evidence to draw conclusions and devise future inquiry directions. Educators also introduce provocations that spark student curiosity and interest; hold potential for rich inquiry opportunities; or bring students toward cognitive conflict - perhaps as a timely way of confronting a misconception or a knowledge gap.
Range of Approaches
Collaborative inquiry-based learning can be used in combination with other instructional approaches, as the learning context requires - including direct instruction, small-group, and guided learning.
Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Culturally responsive educators build upon the varied lived experiences of all students in order to bring the curriculum to life. Through this approach, they integrate locally situated learning into daily instruction and learning processes. Constructivist approaches promote inquiry-based learning. They support students to ask questions and create new knowledge based on their natural curiosity about their own experiences. Knowledge building is reciprocal because students play an active role in crafting and developing learning experiences for themselves and their peers. This results in making learning relevant and accessible for all students in the classroom as they are able to see themselves in the curriculum. One resource to support culturally responsive pedagogy is: Culturally Responsive PedagogyTowards Equity and Inclusivity inOntario Schools
Resources to Support Inquiry
Project Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry Learning often work hand in hand.Here are some resources focussed on PBL:
Integrative Thinking is a mindset, methodology, and pedagogy for problem solving. It equips learners with the capacity to explore difficult and often conflicting ideas. It also provides learners with strategies, tools, and processes to generate creative resolutions to tensions in the form of new and innovative ideas.
Resource to support Integrative ThinkingOverview of Integrative Thinking Intergrative Thinking on The Learning Exchange Rotman I-THINK
Design Thinking is a mindset and approach to learning, collaboration, and problem solving. In practice, the design process is a structured framework for identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions. Design Thinking can be flexibly implemented; serving equally well as a framework for a course design or a roadmap for an activity or group project. (from Teaching and Learning LabHarvard Graduate School of Education)
Knowledge Building ResourcesStanford — d.school IDEO — 'Design Thinking for Educators' and the Design ThinkingToolkit Business Innovation Factory — 'Teachers Design for Education' and the TD4Ed Curriculum Research — Design Thinking in Pedagogy — Luka, Ineta (2014). Design Thinking in Pedagogy. Journal of Education Culture and Society, No. 2, 63-74.