Projects? Inquiry? Inquiry-Based Learning? Does the term matter?

I am incredibly blessed to collaborate with educators from around the world who are doing amazing things in their schools, classrooms, and learning spaces each and every day.  When I cross their stories in my PLN or face to face at events I try my best to amplify their voice and share a stage for their message.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have found teacher librarian Beth Lyons at Larkspur Public School in the Peel District School Board, Ontario, Canada.  Find her on twitter and her online space for more of her work and ideas.

She participated in our Inquiry Mindset Flipgrid Book Club this summer and I was taken aback by her expertise and passion for personalized learning.  I knew I needed to collaborate with her in some capacity and sure enough, here's a guest blog that I think anyone dabbling in personalized learning should read.


I'm going to start right off the bat and let you know that I most like the term "inquiry" for exploring new ideas and experiences with learners. I think it evokes the mindset of wondering, of questioning, of striving for new knowledge. 

It doesn't lend itself to immediately thinking of a product, an end, a finish line. 

The learning is the doing.

Where is all coming from? Well, back in the spring I read Inquiry Mindset by Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt (and then I immediately read it again in the summer for their Flipgrid book chat) and I quite literally felt as though my kindred spirits were speaking to me through this book. But even before that I had been using the term inquiry in the Library Learning Commons with educators and students. Currently I am reading Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach and this question about terms came up as part of a book chat at Twitter. defines "inquire" as-

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This to me is what learning is all about. Seeking information. Gaining knowledge. Asking questions.

It's not about a product but rather the process.

I want the learners I engage with to love the process of learning, whether they create something at the end or not. 

Does that mean that I think learners don't need to create a product, or complete a project? 


The sharing of our learning through the creation of a product to share to an authentic audience is a valuable experience. I am a huge believer of the maker movement, maker culture and makerspaces in education. Learning through making is an essential part of a balanced education program and a necessary component for our 21st century learners.

But I do think the term we use matters.