Technology » Open Learning

Open Learning


As part of the ongoing evaluation of the technology initiative, GRACE decided to pursue more open learning environments (OLE). In an open learning environment, teachers provide students with ill-defined problems or questions. In the process of grappling with them, students learn the curriculum while sharpening their collaboration, divergent thinking, and inquiry skills. Teachers may use pedagogical techniques like design thinkingproblem/project/challenge-based learning, or blended/flipped learning to facilitate this process.  At the end of the unit, the student’s finished work  shows both understanding of the information as well as real innovation.

In many ways, an OLE is a natural continuation of our Technology at GRACE (TAG) initiative. The goal of TAG is “to create lifelong learners who know how to research, analyze, and synthesize new information and present it professionally.” Open learning helps us achieve and advance this goal with an emphasis on student choice, inquiry, and creation for real world audiences.

An open-learning environment can be difficult to define.  To help, here are some values that are important in an open-learning environment, skills an open-learning environment should encourage, and pedagogical methods that often work well with an OLE.

Open-Learning Environment Values:

  • Inquiry
  • Student choice
  • Student innovation
  • Student passions
  • Open-ended questions
  • Open-ended products (i.e. ways to show what a student learned)
  • Work for the real world
  • Work for a real audience
  • Teacher as facilitator
  • Personalized/individualized instruction

Open-learning Environment Skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity

Open-learning Pedagogical Methods:

  • Project-based learning (or problem-based or challenge-based)
  • Design Thinking
  • 20% Time
  • Makerspace
  • Flipped or blended lessons
  • Cross-curricular and cross-grade level collaboration

Currently, an OLE happens at GRACE during select lessons and units.  Many teachers are already incorporating some of these tools and strategies, even if they haven’t reached a full OLE yet.  As GRACE continues to grow, teachers will use more and more of these pedagogical methods in the classroom and strive for more and more Open Learning Environments.

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