In today’s digital world, knowledge is a click away. With the internet and Google at our fingertips, it seems that learning anything is possible from anywhere. As a result, knowledge, and information are more accessible than ever. But that poses a challenge for educators. In short, new approaches to teaching need to be developed at a time when knowledge is easy to access. That is where vertical education comes into play.
In a vertical teaching environment, students of mixed ages learn and study together. Moreover, it allows for a multi-disciplinary approach to learning by cross-pollinating subjects. As a result, many educators seek MA education online programs that provide innovative pedagogy. For example, the University of Exeter’s Online MA in Education is one of the top programs globally, with all learning happening 100% online.
The psychology of verticality
Simply put, students learn differently when in different environments. The way people process information changes depending on the environment. Students learning in a vertical environment have an increased ability to process information. One of the reasons, for instance, is that older students could mentor younger peers. This allows for more retention as the teaching comes from more youthful and more relatable peers rather than teachers.
The importance of immersion and environment
As people who regularly travel know, immersing yourself in a new culture or environment drastically changes your experience. The environment students find themselves in impacts how they process information and their ability to retain that information. It is why groups of adventurers who want to learn about ancient cultures often immerse themselves in those cultures. The same goes for young students.
By creating a vertical culture, you create an innovative and immersive experience. With students of various ages in the same space, creating new ways of learning is vital, meaning vertical teaching pushes educators to develop more immersive teaching methods. For example, to keep children of different ages engaged, teachers may use virtual and augmented reality tools. Changing the student environment physically and virtually enables them to process and retain information far easier. That is because it captures all of their senses and continually challenges younger and older students to engage in a changing and immersive environment.
The benefits of increased perspective and retention
You have probably heard the expression “a new pair of eyes” at some point, meaning looking at something from a different perspective. The same holds for young students in school, and it makes sense when you think about it. When we see a problem or challenge from a different perspective, our brain processes that challenge differently. By doing so, we process the information far more quickly.
In a vertical teaching environment, the diversity of age and method of teaching increases learning. For example, let us say you are a teacher who wants to teach students about the benefits of using solar power. If you stand on the ground, you can show how solar panels work and how they generate electricity for the home.
However, if you stand on a roof (virtually), you can show how solar panels power a home completely. In other words, you have changed your perspective on learning by standing on the top of a house in the virtual world. The images students see, and the change in view allow students to learn more easily and retain the information.
Learning through exposure
Let us say that you want to teach students about gorillas. You could suggest they read about them in a book. But reading about gorillas differs from seeing and interacting with them in person. You could watch documentaries and videos about gorillas — it is not the same as seeing them in real life.
Now, let us say you use virtual or augmented reality tools. Seeing gorillas in a virtual world that is fully immersive and engaging allows students to process information. Moreover, it happens completely differently if. They were just about them or watching documentaries. And imagine that the older students serve as assistant guides on a tour of a nature preserve.
How can teachers prepare for vertical teaching
Ready to take your classroom to new heights? While vertical teaching is still a relatively new concept, there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your teaching. First, think about the environment you want to create in your classroom. Do you want a domain that physically mixes the age groups? Would you like to include virtual and augmented reality learning tools?
You can also consider incorporating visual props into your classroom for children’s education. For example, if you want to teach about the water cycle, you can hang a large water cycle diagram in the center of the room for all your students to see. You can also incorporate more hands-on learning in your classroom. Instead of having students read from books, have them read from posters or diagrams.
You could also include more mixed-age group projects in your classroom. These activities can get students on their feet and moving around the room. And, of course, you can incorporate outdoor activities such as visits to parks, museums, or interactive experiences.
Bottom line — vertical teaching is a win-win
Vertical teaching is a win-win situation. The students get to explore what interests them and learn in a more tailored way. Older students also have a crucial role in teaching and mentoring younger students. This teaching opportunity allows them to increase their social and emotional learning and allows all students to retain more information.
The students win because they experience life and engage with the world around them through, for example, virtual and augmented reality tools. On the other hand, teachers win too. For example, they get to let go of some of the control and also gain the freedom to explore their surroundings with students of mixed ages. Also, they can engage with their students and see their excitement for learning. And for teachers, what is better than seeing students’ curiosity and excitement, which is a win for everyone?