Inquiry based learning

Ocean School aims to build an ocean-literate society by challenging learners to think critically, ask questions, gather information, explore multiple perspectives and take positive actions to improve Canadian oceans and their interconnected ecosystems. Our goal is empowerment through action-driven inquiry based learning, in order to bring about environmental and social change.

Inquiry based learning (IBL) encourages students to take the lead in their learning experience. Posing their own questions and gathering evidence, learners practice the skills they need to participate in knowledge creation. On the Ocean School platform, the media experiences are designed to support open-ended investigations into a question or a problem. Students and educators share responsibility for identifying problems that students can investigate further. Together, they engage in critical thinking, collection and analysis of evidence, logical reasoning, and creative problem-solving.


Technology plays a central role in our approach to inquiry based learning, whereby students and educators use digital technology for various learning and teaching processes.

21st Century Competencies

Through an inquiry based approach to learning, Ocean School aims to provide opportunities for educators to integrate the global competencies identified by C21 Canada in and outside the classroom. These competencies provide a framework for transforming learning with clear guidelines for the skills, knowledge and approaches needed to succeed in the 21 century.

Global citizen

  • I am mindful of the environment and open to diverse world-views. I connect and apply my learning to the wider community.

Critical thinker

  • I identify authentic problems, ask great questions and make informed decisions and actions.

Lifelong learner

  • I set goals, monitor my progress, and learn from my successes and failures. I can take action for positive change - one small step at a time.

Creative innovator

  • I use a step-by-step process to design and implement creative solutions to authentic problems.


  • I strive to work with and learn from others to co-construct knowledge and meaning in physical and virtual environments.


  • I communicate effectively and express myself creatively using different tools, styles, formats and digital media.

Digital citizen

  • I use digital technologies to investigate and solve problems, to create and express ideas, and to contribute positively to my community.

This work is adapted from Shifting Minds: A 21st Century Vision of Public Education for Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) PanCanadian Global Competencies and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Wave makers

Placing local issues at the forefront of student projects allows for the development of transferable skills later in life. Ultimately, Ocean School aims to support learners to make change, one small step at a time. We wish to provide a real sense of agency: every one of us can help shape a common future that includes a healthy and productive ocean.

The Take Action is the culminating activity in every module. Learners are asked to reflect about what they’ve learned and how they can put their learning into action. This activity is designed to support sustained inquiry, leadership and collaboration.

The Take Action is framed with a “call to action” from the youth host who poses the overarching module question and asks students to take action to answer it.

Click here to read the Take Action guide.