Tools and techniques to stimulate higher order thinking in online learning

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The Covid-19 pandemic has created a range of challenges as teaching and learning moved from face-to-face to totally online delivery. Many learning providers were obliged to move to fully online learning from March 2020 with some adopting hybrid approaches in line with government and health advice. Many university programmes were rapidly redesigned to be delivered online but this is not just a matter of providing resources in digital format. While there is no agreed definition of higher order thinking (HOT) it is generally understood that HOT elevates thinking to levels beyond restating the facts. HOT involves understanding of the knowledge, inference from them, connections to other facts and concepts, categorisation, manipulation of the knowledge and finally, reconstructing them into new or novel ways to provide solutions to unique problems. We discuss the challenges of achieving HOT within the online environment but also the import of providing opportunities for students to engage fully with the entire range of learning levels. In this paper we consider HOT within the context of a pyramid learning structure with lower order thinking at the base and higher order thinking dominating the apex; building from remembering to understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating to creating. We provide a review of our experiences of experimentation with a range of different learning activities such as discussions, quizzes and assignments delivered on a VLE (Canvas) for an undergraduate cohort studying Computing and Information Technology related course of degree study. We review the impact of different curriculum items and educational activities to promote HOT on student experience and the achievement of learning outcomes.We reflect on how students learn via online content delivery and we propose how the learning experience can be enhanced to promote higher categories of cognitive thinking. We demonstrate how a pyramid model of curriculum activities facilitates the learner scaling from knowledge to the more challenging skills of creation and how this effective learning environment facilitates higher order thinking practice. We propose practical examples of the application of a pyramid learning structure within e-learning environments to deepen student learning, student access and engagement with leading to successful students’ workplace experience in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 30th Annual Conference of the European Association for Education in Electrical and Information Engineering (EAEEIE-2021), Prague, 1-3 September, 2021
EditorsDusan Maga, Jiri Hajek
PublisherCzech Technical University, Publishing House
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-9324-3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2021

Publication series

Name30th Annual Conference of the European Association for Education in Electrical and Information Engineering (EAEEIE 2021): Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2472-7687


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