China / Society

Experts put spotlight on innovative teaching tools

By Zhao Xinying ( Updated: 2014-03-26 21:03

An innovative education forum was held in Beijing on Wednesday, during which education experts from China and abroad shared their views on how to instruct students in more effective ways, especially with the help of such tools as Lego bricks and robots.

Chris Rogers, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University in the United States who has experience in inspiring students to learn in practical and innovative ways, said he believed that the best way to teach students is to combine three methods: "telling, showing and enabling".

By "enabling", Rogers means that teachers should give tools to students and allow them to discuss, explore, discover and reach conclusions by themselves.

But most teachers, Rogers said, including those in the US, do well in telling and showing but need to improve their "enabling" skills.

"We should believe that the kids can figure out the things if we give them the tools and the opportunity," he said.

Rogers' remarks were echoed by John Pinkney, an education expert from the UK who also attended the forum.

"You can't expect someone to be creative while telling them what they must do," Pinkney said, stressing the importance of giving students the autonomy to teach themselves through the tools and methods they select.

Liang Ying, who has been teaching robotics at the Elementary School Attached to Beijing Institute of Technology since 2004, said he found that students learn quickly when they are enabled to explore knowledge on their own. For example, he said, students of his school build cubes and squares with Lego bricks in math classes when they are learning about geometric figures.

"We are now trying to integrate practical activities like this into more classes in our school," Liang said.

The forum was organized by LEGO Education, part of the LEGO Group, together with scientific and educational websites such as Education Online, Scientific American and The organizers hope to raise people's awareness about learning by doing and spread the idea of teaching students via tools.

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