Promote greater student engagement and deeper understanding with object-based learning in your STEM classroom and beyond.

Popular during class trips to museums, object-based learning is finding a place in lesson plans to bring the world into the classroom. While trips to museums allow students to see and, at times, touch exhibits, teachers who implement object-based learning are able to present lessons on site using actual examples of the topics that are discussed.

Though every day can’t include a field-trip to the museum, teachers can bring examples to the classroom. By providing tactile items to illustrate lessons, teachers are able to engage students at a higher sensory level. The use of object-based learning, whether off-site on a field trip, or collaborating in the classroom, is an excellent illustrative tool that is extremely helpful within the following teaching styles.

object-based learning1. Flipped Classroom

Using object-based learning in a flipped classroom setting allows students to learn actively while at home. Through programs such as University of Central London’s (UCL) Object-based Resources and Smithsonian’s X 3D, access to the museums’ collections are available to students at any time. During school the next day, teachers can log into these collections to aide students while reviewing the previous evening’s work.

2. Virtual Field Trip

When teaching students about the world outside of their community, finding visual aids is not always easy if these supplies originate in distant places. Through using virtual field trips, teachers are able to incorporate object-based learning to illustrate a lesson. Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom partnership allows teachers to contact guest speakers from around the world who can discuss their work on STEM projects.

3. Experiential Learning

object-based learningIn a classroom that uses experiential learning, students control the direction of lessons. Within this setting, object-based learning is the perfect key to student understanding of material. Many organizations, such as the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Geographic provide supplies that lay the foundation for object-based learning within an experiential-style classroom in which students learn how to solve real-world problems.

Object-based learning can shift the atmosphere of a classroom by leading students to become excited about learning about the STEM in their communities and around the world. This excellent tool can increase student understanding, as children are able to examine all details of the subjects they are studying. When used as a component of project-based learning, object-based learning is a useful tool for illustrating key facts that are important for an assignment. Teachers should be cautious regarding the potential overuse of object-based learning, however. While this technique benefits many children, including tactile learners, students who process information differently might not excel if all instruction is done through object-based learning.

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