Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Experiences where students can touch, feel, and explore are some of the most effective ways to learn. At Microsoft, creating immersive and inclusive learning experiences that inspire lifelong learning are central to our mission.
For students, these experiences stimulate the development of essential life skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. The goal is to encourage students to learn through doing — solving problems, practicing, progressing and having fun, with real-time feedback from educators.
Here are four fun and easy ways you can encourage your students to learn through doing and exploring:
1. Connect with educators around the world with guest speakers and virtual field trips
While previous generations learned about the world through books, films and pen pals, today’s students can travel around the world right from their classrooms with Skype in the Classroom virtual field trips. It’s a snap for a classroom in Washington to take a virtual field trip to a classroom in Mexico City and for students to learn from each other, in real time, regardless of language or cultural differences. “Skype allows you to connect with the world. [With Skype] it’s possible to take an expert to a classroom on the other side of the world and for children to speak directly to the expert,” explains Karen Stanler, Technology Integration Facilitator in South Africa.
Skype is a communication and collaboration tool, and there’s no better way to learn from experts than meeting them face to face, no matter where they live. Whether you’re teaching your students chemistry, computer science or literature, you can bring the lessons to life by accessing hundreds of Skype in the Classroom guest speakers, such as authors, TED speakers, biologists, researchers, developers, and more.
“I have been using Skype in my lessons for six years. We know more about life in other countries, other education systems, sports, music, traditions and holidays; and we help other folks know more about the culture of our small country. In these Skype sessions we meet children of the same age, motivating my students to learn English. Skype in the Classroom is a great way to find partners, and helps my small students to open their eyes to the whole world.” – Gyöngyi Tóthné Bán, Educator, Hungary
2. Explore new worlds through collaborative problem solving
Minecraft is beloved by kids the world over for good reason. Visit a classroom that’s using Minecraft, and you may be surprised to witness a focused kind of enthusiasm — students who are motivated to learn, who are engaged, confident, and working collaboratively to solve a problem. Sure, it may be a game, but make no mistake, Minecraft has the power to transform learning on a global scale.
By creating a virtual world and then exploring in it, students can simulate the real world. Younger students learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy. Older students explore more complicated humanities questions, while also learning basic engineering and programming skills. “Minecraft provides the opportunity to integrate typical gaming elements like high scores, ranking, badges, etc. into my lessons. Student motivation is very high when using gamification, and the students learn problem-orientated [skills] and develop their own strategies as a team,” highlights Andre Spang, and educator in Germany who uses Minecraft in his classroom.
3. Bring subjects to life through pen-to-paper partner app experiences
Pen and paper have been critical tools for teaching and learning since the dawn of formalized education systems. With the introduction of computers into the classroom, teachers have struggled to balance between digital and analog curriculum and materials. Digital ink is a great way to strike this balance. Tablets like the Surface with an active pen give educators the freedom to teach the way they want.
We’ve partnered with some of the best educational app partners to make pen-to-paper style experiences like FluidMath and StaffPad available on Windows – bringing subjects like math and music to life in new and effective ways.
“Microsoft Surface enables the students to experience a multi-dimensional world of learning. No need to change rooms. And with OneNote, all kinds of documents are gathered as one portfolio. Each student can train and enhance his or her competencies and skills individually.” – Susanne Judenhahn, Teacher and Expert Educator, Germany
“Surface Pro3 with Office365, and especially OneNote, support learning by offering a versatile digital experience in the framework of the curriculum. Surface supports different learning styles and the digital pen helps many students to express themselves in [a more] natural way.” – Jenni Känsälä, Teacher and Expert Educator, Finland
4. Provide real-time feedback, from anywhere in or out of the classroom
In OneNote Class Notebook, students can ask for help, and teachers can give their support—directly in the student’s private notebook. The notebook’s collaboration space encourages students to work together while you provide real-time coaching. Notebooks are saved automatically and can be viewed from any device, online or offline.
“We’ve always been a Microsoft school but the game changer is OneNote Class Notebook. Our teachers have really embraced it. It’s very exciting to see how they’ve [adopted] OneNote Class Notebook as their digital curriculum.” – Marianthe Williams, Director of Technology, River Dell Regional School District, USA
Technology, applied in new ways, can shift behavior and motivation – helping teachers assess learning, and supporting students as they learn to be adaptable and resilient through exploration, simulation and gaming. And tactile experiences are still some of the most effective ways to learn.