When we speak about why modern technology enables a transformed inquiry -based learning is far more desirable and effective model for our schools than the transmission of content, we still need to clear about the role and place of content.
Larry Sanger has recently written a piece on why content is still important and why inquiry-based learning is folly. I’m not sure if Larry is deliberately try to mislead the discussion but it serves as a reminder for those of us who are championing a pedagogy and curriculum that uses modern technology to enable inquiry-based learning, that we need to clearly articulate the role of content in the learning process.
1. Students learn content and facts as they undertake inquiry-based learning but the content is needed. This has the major benefit over the transmission of facts as it provides a context and a opportunity to validate the learning. The context also gives indication of what is needed to be learnt. The design of inquiry-based projects are therefore crucial. This is not to suggest that content is the only goal, learning how to learn effectively and autonomously is also the goal.
2. Instruction from experts still has a role (although to much lesser extent) with inquiry-based learning, there are still non-negotiable instruction that needs to occur as determined by the teacher.