Shared Learning Spaces

Viewing others’ work presents numerous pedagogical advantages. Foremost of these is the chance for a student to evaluate their own thinking on a topic compared to what their peers are presenting. It is in this phase of comparison that the active student is forced to decide if they are indeed on the right track or need to adjust their thinking.

This process is a wonderful way for students to self-assess where they sit on the journey of understanding. Ideas shared around the room are eventually funnelled into an agreed response or interpretation, and the process continually stimulates the need for each student to justify thinking and choices, a process inextricably linked to most higher order thinking activities. It is practically impossible for every student to see the thinking process of their peers in a traditionalist classroom, and even sharing ideas in a group leaves out individuals who may not be inclined to participate.

Such a learning opportunity is enhanced further in two ways. Firstly, a student having produced a piece of work themselves and likely to have read it over several times may be unable to see how it can be improved or if it contains errors, having become affected by the principle of inattentional blindness. Seeing the same task or problem articulated in another way can mitigate against such a phenomenon. Secondly, repeated exposure to the content at hand contributes, as Nuthall suggests, to improved processing of content and its likely transfer into the long-term memory, an essential process for it to be of any use in a future learning context.

Another advantage is that seeing others’ insights into a topic can generate/stimulate the learner’s own creative exploration of the topic. This idea applies not just to the evaluation of content, but also to the evaluation of structure and general writing/presentation skill. Seeing models of strong writing and well-structured answers adds to the viewer’s schema of such a context. This is a powerful assessment for learning opportunity.

Tools that facilitate such a learning space include  @goformative, @padlet, @socrative@peardeck @nearpod, and Google Docs. There are of course many others, but the pedagogy is the same.

I’m Paul Moss. I’m a learning designer at The University of Adelaide. I’m on Twitter too

Cover image: Royalty-free stock vector ID: 1543632293

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