“Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios—rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge. The process is often assisted by a facilitator.” – Wikipedia

Key points about Inquiry Based Learning:

  • Inquirers will identify and research issues and questions to develop their knowledge or solutions.

  • Inquiry-based learning includes problem-based learning, and is generally used in small scale investigations and projects, as well as research

  • The inquiry-based instruction is principally very closely related to the development and practice of thinking skills.

Origin and Influence

Several theories exist as to the exact ancestry of Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL). Some academics trace its origins to Socrates and his method that focuses on stimulating students’ critical thinking through questions and answers. Through questions, students and teachers can discover alternate interpretations of information, analyze key concepts, and question assumptions, thus building critical thinking skills. (Paul, Elder, 1997).

Many hundreds of years later, educational reformer John Dewey is credited with introducing his version of IBL, commonly known as Constructivism, into science education beginning around 1910. Dewey encouraged teachers to actively involve their students in the scientific method.

Scientific Method
6 Steps of the Scientific Method

The role of the teacher would be as facilitators and guides to the students. In his opinion, there was too much emphasis in education on facts without significance to thinking and attitude of the mind. The model that Dewey developed stressed that students address problems they want to know and apply it to what has been observed, thus adding to their personal knowledge of science. He believed that problems must be related to students’ experiences and within their intellectual ability, resulting in active learning by students in their search for answers. (Barrow, 2006)

During the 1960s, IBL evolved to include more than just science. As part of the “Discovery Learning” movement led by Joseph Schwab, it encouraged teachers to trigger the curiosity of students in all educational disciplines. Schwab’s model “relies upon the idea that individuals are able to learn by investigating scenarios and problems, and through social experiences.” (Pappas, 2014).

Schwab divided inquiry into four levels. As the years past and more research was conducted, his levels were frequently revised. Currently, the most accepted levels of inquiry are (Banchi & Bell, 2008):

  1. Confirmation Inquiry: Students are given the question and a predetermined method of investigation by the teacher/facilitator. The results are known in advance and it is up to the student to confirm.
  2. Structured Inquiry: Students are given the question and a predetermined method of investigation by the teacher/facilitator. The results are based on the student’s research.
  3. Guided Inquiry: Students are given the question by the teacher/facilitator, then form their own method to research results.
  4. Open Inquiry: Students propose their own questions and investigate the results using their own method.

Today, IBL is continuing to slowly replace didactic teaching/learning in both education and in workforce development training. Research has shown that IBL develops problem solving and critical thinking skills that prepare learners for the real world.

When boiled down to the essentials, IBL is centered on the student/learner. Teachers facilitate learning through encouraging exploration and questioning. Students are engaged in their learning due to the fact that they are an active part of the process. They are not being lectured to, but are participants in the discussion.



Inquiry-based learning is an approach that can easily accommodate project-based learning, challenge-based learning, place-based education, blended learning, and other trends in education.

One of the most innovative ways inquiry-based learning has been applied is through Augmented Reality (AR). With augmented reality apps and platforms such as Augment, instructors and learners can visualize 3D models in the real environment, in real time, and at scale.

Governments are investing in AR & VR for education

InvestmentInARIn France’s revised national curriculum, the Ministry included AR as a recommended technology to be used in middle school technology courses.

The aim of these courses is to give students experience in the process of problem solving with the help of technology. Students are encourages to identify a problem, to design solutions, to collaborate with others, and to iterate on their previous ideas.

Read more…

Easily Integrate AR by Creating Custom “Markers”

A great way to integrate AR into the classroom is by custom making “markers.” Marker images serve as triggers to display AR content on or over the surface. There are a variety of apps that make this process easy and by having custom content teachers can ensure that the AR is directly linked to the content of the lesson. Two of the more popular apps are Aurasma and Layar, both work on IOS and Android devices and require nothing more than an account set up.

Check out Aurasma and Layar

Tech Evolution

The past and the present:

  • AbacusThe abacus and its predecessor, the counting board, are instruments used to perform arithmetic calculations. While the exact origins of the abacus are still unknown, the abacus remains popular today, both as a toy for toddlers and as a calculation tool for older students.
  • Magic LanternMagic Lanterns were the primitive version of the modern projectors. A photo or painted picture was placed on a sheet of glass and then illuminated by a bright source of light to project it on a flat surface in a dark room. It was developed in the 17th century but did not become widely used as an educational tool until the 19th century.
  • CalculatorsElectronic hand-held calculators allow students to perform simple to complex computations with ease. Since it’s introduction in the classroom in the 1970s, calculators has sparked controversy as many feared it would hamper the natural ability of children to perform mental calculations. Despite this, the use of calculators have continued to grow in popularity over the past few decades.
  • ComputersThe first portable computer, weighing 24 pounds, was introduced to the consumer world in 1981. The personal computer, opened endless opportunities not only for teachers and students but for the education industry. In just a few years, there were educational games, quizzes, e-books, and tutorials for use in and out of the classroom.
  • TabletsSince the early 21st century, we have seen an increasing adoption of tablets in schools. With it’s easy-to-use touch screen and its expansive collection of education specific apps, teachers and students now have handheld mobile solutions to accessing their digital education content.


The Future: Mixed Reality Technologies

Recently, more and more of the education community is becoming aware of mixed reality (MR) technologies and discovering ways it can be used for educational purposes . Mixed reality technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are giving educators and students access to experiences and information that were previously unavailable to them.

Source: Shin 2017


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Heather Walker   |   Guillermo Holguin