Finland’s Secret Education Weapon: Phenomenon-Based Learning
Phenomenon-based learning brings complex real-world issues into the classroom.
The topics that students learn in a phenomenon-based classroom could range from Students engage in authentic and organic research, communicate with stakeholders inside and outside the classroom, and execute meaningful teamwork.
This strategy is a contextualized way of approaching topics and themes because no boundaries exist. Its initiative is also one of Finland’s secret weapons in climbing in rank from ninth to sixth place in higher education. In requiring phenomenon-based learning, Finland is assuring that its students can think critically and respond with empathy to situations and events beyond the classroom or even the country.
Phenomenon-based learning has also caught the attention of educators outside Finland as well. In fact, phenomenon-based learning has become such a significant education trend that it’s often referred to by its shortened name, PhenoBL.
How PhenomBL works
Born out of constructivism, PhenoBL uses collaboration and inquiry-based learning to solve problems. Students start with a real-world challenge, such as climate change, conflict, or why school cafeteria tastes the way it does. They learn as much as they can about the situation, gathering facts, interpreting dating, and making recommendations for solving problems.
In PhenomBL, you’ll find plenty of project and portfolios that are the culmination of skills like these:
· Problem-solving (Students engage in trial and error activities.)
· Application of cultural knowledge (Students do not re-invent the wheel; instead, they use pre-existing knowledge.)
· Socio-cultural learning theory (Artifacts and symbols are appropriate tools for thinking.
· Collaborative effort (Working in groups yields greater gain than working alone.)
Phenomenon-based learning is hands-on and meaningful. Students grapple with real-world concepts to comprehend their scope and find solutions.
Technology’s role in phenomenon-based learning
Phenomenon-based learning includes technology, but it relies on the right edtech tool at the right time. Finnish schools have embraced technology, but they view edtech as a tool for finding a solution. The technology is not an end in itself.
PhenoBL may even cause the demise of traditional reading materials required for advanced coursework. Learners no longer have to depend on what the textbook offers. Instead, students can gather information from a vast array of resources. Open Educational Resources (OERs) have erased the information once established by publishing houses.
Students now access information through digital media like video, online research, and other documents. Teachers find OERs beneficial because of the significant savings in time. OERs make planning much easier.
Using technology to gather phenomenon knowledge is just the beginning. Learners rely on technology to solve problems and share their insight.
Why PhenoBL is so effective
When we encourage students to find out about the world in which they live and allow them the opportunity to solve problems, we show how meaningful learning can be. In essence, we’re creating life-long learners who have learned how educational technology can help them pursue answers to their most pressing questions. In addition, technology is the social link that brings students and mentors together to change not only the world, but how we learn.
PhenoBL is the first step in making this vision a reality, and Finland is already using it in classrooms at every level.