5 Tips To Integrate Discovery Learning Activities Into Your Instructional Design
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How To Integrate Discovery Learning Activities Into Your Instructional Design

Jean Piaget, Seymour Papert, and Jerome Bruner are the major proponents of the Discovery Learning model. This approach relies on inquiries and self-exploration. Learners are given the opportunity to conduct research, build skills, and look at the problem from every angle, which allows them to reflect on the topic and assign meaning to core concepts and ideas. In this article, I'll highlight the benefits of Discovery Learning and I'll share 5 tips to integrate Discovery Learning activities into your Instructional Design.

Discovery Learning Benefits In eLearning

1. Empowers Online Learners

Discovery Learning encourages online learners to take charge of the eLearning experience, which increases learner engagement and motivation. They are active participants in the process and have the opportunity to explore the subject matter firsthand.

2. Promotes Problem-Solving Skills

Online learners must examine the question or problem from multiple angles to find the best solution. This facilitates lateral thinking, problem-solving, and creative reasoning abilities.

3. Provides personalized eLearning experiences

Each participant is able to go at their own pace and research the subject matter autonomously. As such, they can use relevant resources and tools to improve their comprehension and knowledge retention.

5 Tips To Enhance Your Instructional Design With Discovery Learning Activities

1. Incorporate Real World Problem-Solving

Discovery Learning heavily relies on self-guided problem-solving. Online learners have the power to examine every aspect of the problem and evaluate possible outcomes. However, they must be able to relate to the issue in question and apply their knowledge in real life. For this reason, you should incorporate real world situations and challenges. This may be in the form of eLearning simulations, scenarios, and case studies.

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2. Pose Thought Provoking Questions

A well-crafted question has the power to spark online discussions and trigger self-reflection. Start your eLearning lesson with a thought provoking question or prompt that encourages online learners to evaluate the situation. It should also allow them to examine their own cognitions and identify limiting beliefs. For example, assumptions that are holding them back. Just make sure that your question is compelling, not controversial. You want to give everyone the opportunity to reflect on the subject, and off-putting inquiries are a major distraction.

3. Put Knowledge Into Practice

Discovery Learning is not just about problem-solving, but the skills and knowledge online learners develop during the process. For example, the talents they hone as they work their way through a task simulation. As such, you should give them the opportunity to practice what they've learned in context. Include serious games and branching scenarios that utilize their skills and test their knowledge.

4. Develop Self-Guided Online Research Projects

Give online learners a problem or prompt and then let them research the subject matter autonomously. Thanks to modern technology, online learners have all the resources they need to get started. Encourage them to visit social media groups to learn from experienced professionals, or video sharing sites to watch online task tutorials and compelling lectures.

5. Pair Mistake-Driven Learning With Immediate eLearning Feedback

Mistakes are a crucial part of Discovery Learning. By making mistakes, online learners are able to see the repercussions of their actions and think of alternative approaches. This is yet another reason why real world activities are beneficial. Online learners get the chance to see the outcome of their behaviors and decisions without any risk. However, this should also be accompanied by immediate eLearning feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Criticism Of Discovery Learning

It's wise to examine ALL aspects of the Discovery Learning model before you determine if it's the best approach for your eLearning course. There are some critics that doubt the effectiveness and viability of the Discovery Learning approach based on the following assumptions:

1. Hinders Knowledge Retention

Critics suggest that online learners may experience cognitive overload, due to the autonomous and research-centered nature of Discovery Learning. For example, online learners have to solve a problem using the available resources. There are no guidelines to follow. As such, online learners may be flooded with an abundance of information at once, without knowing how to proceed.

2. Prevents Ongoing Feedback

Many Discovery Learning activities are self-guided. Therefore, online instructors and facilitators are unable to intervene when necessary. For example, online learners explore the topic on their own and research all possible outcomes. Online instructors are only able to see the finished product instead of providing feedback throughout the entire process.

The Basics Of Enhanced Discovery Learning

It's important to note that many of the criticisms for Discovery Learning are addressed by the Enhanced Discovery Learning Model. For instance, learners are provided with general guidelines and instructions before the online activity in order to prevent cognitive overload.

Robert J. Marzano, a noted researcher and trainer, is one of the main proponents for Enhanced Discovery Learning. Marzano suggests that learners must be prepared for the Discovery Learning process ahead of time. This involves detailed instructions and a summary of the key takeaways. Applied to eLearning, the online instructor can provide online learners with a step-by-step walkthrough of the task before the eLearning simulation. Marzano also stipulates that learners should form their own ideas during the activity, then explain their thought process after the fact. Again, applied to eLearning, the online learner completes a branching scenario and then explains why they chose specific paths. Online learners should also have examples to follow during the activity so that they know what do you expect from them.

Discovery Learning may not be the ideal approach for EVERY eLearning course. However, you can adapt its methodologies to suit your needs. Use real world eLearning activities to encourage mistake-driven learning. And give online learners the opportunity to examine and evaluate the subject matter on their own terms. With a bit of flexibility, creative, and innovation, you can integrate the Discovery Learning approach into your Instructional Design.

Would you like to know more about Discovery Learning? Read the article Instructional Design Models and Theories: The Discovery Learning Model to discover an in-depth look at this inquiry-based Instructional Design model, including its main principles, advantages, and drawbacks.

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