Do you remember your days at school?, if you have a look back… were the lessons engaging or appealing for you? or were they more like a monologue where you have to fight to stay awake and keep your attention?. Unfortunately nowadays, there are still lots of similar cases. Teachers and institutions prefer to stay in their comfort zone and not invest efforts in future’s children.


The field of (Mobile) Inquiry-based Learning (IBL) (as many others) has been trying to change this paradigm for many years. By offering students a richer and wider informal context, students will be able to seek the truth and satisfy their curiosity by asking the right questions. However, IBL is a complex process. It comprises multiple cognitive processes, variables and factors that makes the current IBL designs not optimal. The lack of clarity on how to scaffold students, the loss of social interactions, not enough guidance or focus on the final product rather than in the IBL process itself, are some key aspects that cause frustration on teachers and students.


But we haven’t given up making IBL better. The next step in my research is to use Roles theory as an strategy to support an optimal division of labour and distribute responsibilities between the students. Our goal is to increase students’ engagement in the IBL process. By increasing the students’  engagement we hope to see a change on the level of understanding. Not only about the topic of the inquiry but also about the process of an Inquiry. Students should be able to re-use the IBL process in other domains, since the IBL process (or the IBL structure) and the role strategy are independent to any topic.



Still wondering why roles are important?

A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energy so they will try to get there” – David R. Gergen

Author Angel Suarez

Angel Suarez is a PhD student on Technology Enhanced Learning at Welten Institute (Research Center for Learning, Teaching and Technology) of the Open University of the Netherlands. Since he finished his Master project in 2013, he has been working on the design, development, implementation and testing of innovative tools and strategies to improve the support of Mobile Inquiry-based Learning in secondary education. His research has evolved into the use of Role Theory embedded with technology as a mean to structure and enhance IBL processes. Angel is a fellow of the Dutch research school information and knowledge systems (SIKS). Next to the OUNL research, he is the CTO in Smart Data Protection which deals with online data security.

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