Inquiry-Based Learning with Microsoft Office 365 Tools


MAY, 2021

Digital Tools
Good Practice

Although we are born with an innate curiosity that drives us to explore our world, this seems to wane or become dormant as we mature. Some, like Socrates, have blamed our declining curiosity on ‘hubris’ or people’s egos, whereas Albert Einstein perceived the education system as the culprit, suggesting it was strangled the ‘holy curiosity of inquiry’. While the root causes are unclear, research reveals instructional approaches, in particular inquiry-based learning, can be used to stimulate and harness our learners’ curiosity to drive deep learning.

During the month of April, Dr Isma Seetal from the Deakin Learning Innovation team, Vivek Venkiteswaran from the Business and Law pod and Dr Tara Draper from the SEBE teaching team organised a series of workshops to discuss how inquiry-based learning and Microsoft Office 365 tools can be used to enhance student learning. In this article, we share some key takeaways from our workshop and launch some resources that we have created and curated to support you in using Microsoft Office 365 tools in teaching and learning.


Inquiry-based Learning

We have conceptualised inquiry-based learning broadly as a constructivist approach that consists of a range of pedagogical strategies where the overall goal is for students to solve a problem and perform investigative work. Inquiry-based learning can take various forms including research activities such as constructing literature reviews and enactments of practice, which involve students playing roles that are deemed crucial in the profession they aspire to join.

Compared to unassisted discovery and traditional approaches such as direct instruction, inquiry-based learning has a greater impact on student learning. It also supports the development of a range of skills such as deep thinking, knowledge application and logical reasoning.  Beyond the educational benefits it brings, inquiry-based learning also sustains students’ interest and motivation. However, there is a need for useful instructor guidance during the inquiry task and social support from peers for students to reap the benefits that inquiry-based learning offers.


Tools for Inquiry-based Learning

Microsoft Office 365 tools affords a myriad of features that can be leveraged to facilitate, support or enhance various learning activities in inquiry-based learning. Microsoft Forms, the online survey creator, can be used by instructors to gauge learners’ prior knowledge, engage them in self- and peer-review activities and promote reflection at various points during inquiry processes. Microsoft OneNote, the digital note-taking app, can be used by learners for their research activities such as research collation, synthesis and collaborative creation of research reports and papers. Other types of artefacts such as newsletters and presentations can be produced using Microsoft Sway, which can additionally be leveraged to add interactive elements to various types of instructional resources.


Resources for Deakin staff

You can learn more about how these Microsoft Office 365 tools can be used for inquiry-based learning and other learning activities through our resources, which are currently hosted on our Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Forms and Microsoft Sway SharePoint pages. You can join also the demystifying digital community of practice to learn about and share digital tips with colleagues. You can also join the Demystifying Digital Community on Yammer.

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