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Extending students in lessons requires thought; ensuring they apply and transfer their learning in a variety of ways can often require more. Students who are able to quickly complete planned activities often need exposure to an open task where there is a more significant focus on metacognition, creativity and autonomy.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy organises the nature of thinking, learning verbs and apps, which are best suited for various activities. A student, who has been exposed to these apps and knows what can be achieved with them, is ready to incorporate autonomy into his/her learning.

Inspiring choice and evoking creativity, App Autonomy is the freedom to select how best to achieve the desired outcome. It provides freedom to select how best to achieve the desired outcome. Before this can happen, students must have a secure knowledge of the apps available to them. Mark Anderson’s revised Periodic Table of Apps is a great base for this. Students are able to experience new functions and develop their ability to make suitable choices. With this in mind, the learning objective must provoke thought process.

A pitfall of choice can sometimes result in a lack of focus and effort.

Monotonous tasks may lead to uninterested students who will not travel along the intended learning path. Therefore, engaging hooks to learning need to be reciprocally selected in order to increase motivation. Consequently, open-ended questions will stimulate metacognition, encourage independence and develop critical thinking skills:

• Will this achieve what you want to achieve?

• How is this going to impact what you want to nd out?

• What would be the best way to start the task?

Understanding by Design is a method of working backwards with learning. A teacher will know the desired outcomes and work backwards to identify the best pathway for success. Once choice is given through app autonomy and students are able to adopt a more cognitive approach to learning through engaging tasks, students are in a position to take ownership. This may look like a laissez-faire style of teaching, but what can be learnt, achieved and created as a result, promotes a deeper level of learning, which allows students to enhance their critical thinking skills.

I once asked a group of students to tell me how WWII started. I was quite impressed when they produced a pic collage which coined the phrase App- Smashing. They had used word clouds, time lines, a comic life and mind maps to explain and detail events, mind- sets, reasons and choices. I was then drawn to 2 QR codes: one directing me to a video, providing their thoughts on the research, using Telagami, Puppet Pals and several annotated pictures with voice over. The other was a quiz on Office Forms to test my knowledge and understanding based on their poster. Not bad!

More ever than before, schools are asking teachers to nurture a generation of risk takers and innovators. Using these approaches, students are able to develop and analyse their risk taking as part of a reflective process, which creates a platform for innovation.

‘A camel is a horse, designed by a committee.’

The freedom to choose and be creative, combined with the ownership of stimulating tasks, encourages students to go beyond expectations and learning outcomes. Sometimes, we limit our children with the work we set. Sometimes it is best to let go, and see if they can design a camel that is better than the horse you wanted.

By Tom Edge

Tom is an innovative educator at JESS Jumeirah, where he has harnessed a wide range of digital technologies and transformed the way students learn. He has written for iPad Educators and his work with the Classcraft platform was featured at the GESS Dubai 2016. Twitter: @classedgetech