Classroom Action Learning

Beyond Artificial Intelligence

By Dr Charles Margerison


There is a lot of speculation that advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could eventually replace teachers.

Indeed, the information function of teaching is already being greatly affected by AI as students come to rely more on their mobile devices.

However, the role of the action learning (AL) educator will never be replaced.

Therefore, teachers of tomorrow need the skills to be Action Learning Coordinators.

Implications and Applications

That means each classroom should be a place where students learn by doing.

This happens, of course, in many classrooms. But to what degree? Is it 10% action or 90%?

I was fortunate to meet Dr Reg Revans, the doyen of action learning, early in my career. He had a great concern that too much teaching could restrict learning.

His view was that most of us learn via doing, and we need to create more opportunities for action.

That is certainly the case in my experience. While I needed some initial guidance on the principles and theory, the learning of skills came from practise.

For example, I was 34 years of age when I first started to play the piano. I did so, because my children were learning, so I asked their instructor to show me the basics. I wanted to help my children. Each week, I practised the exercises. The more I practised the better I played. Now I have written over 300 songs, and entertain in cafés and local community facilities.

The same is true for every job that I have had. In the first week, people gave me an outline of the requirements. After that, I learned by doing the job.

Information and Skills

Artificial intelligence can provide information, but it cannot provide the skill that comes from action learning, practise and experience.

Therefore, educators of the future will need to design much more action experiences in their lessons. Indeed, in the age of AI, the lecture could be considered an outdated delivery system.

In classes on mathematics, students spending more time practising than listening will better equip them with the knowledge they need to solve equations.

Does the same apply in history classes? I have taken a special interest in this. In particular, I have used the re-enactment of events to help students learn.

For example: The Roman Invasion of Britain. Sample Scene 1 – The Roman Invasion

Rather than giving a lecture, I provided a five-minute video on the invasion. I then asked half the students to take on the roles of Romans, and the other students to become Britons. They were given 15 minutes to discuss what action they should take. The Romans had to decide which methods they would use to control the Britons, and the latter had to decide how they would defeat the Romans. 

Of course, there was a lot of noise in the classroom. The students became quite emotional in their roles. As a result, students learned to imagine what it might have been like in the battles. They gained socio-emotional learning through their re-enactment and participation.

The important point is to ask students to write up what they have gathered from their learning experience. In particular, what did they learn about teamwork, and what did they learn about themselves?

The AI software cannot answer those questions, as they are personal to the individual.

Classroom Travel Education

I am working with educators to introduce action-based learning in classrooms, to foster learning through experience. This is the fast-emerging form of virtual learning.

Examples of our work are demonstrated on the interactive website at

This is a group of animated teenagers who travel to various countries to learn about the local cultures and ways of life by following the music, dance and folk stories of the places visited.

We have designed this so that the action learning fits into a 45 to 55 minute lesson.

Lesson Plan Example – Can Do Kids Band Visit France

5 minutes – The educator introduces the lesson and indicates that students will have the opportunity to develop marketing ideas to encourage people to visit France.

5 minutes – Video on the Can Do Kids visit France is shown from the website –

15 minutes – Students meet in groups of 3 or 4 to discuss ‘ideas for promoting tourism in France’.

15 minutes – Each group makes a presentation of their ideas.

10 minutes – The educator reviews both the content and style of the presentations, and provides positive improvement feedback points.

The above approach enables students to learn with and from fellow students, some of whom will have visited France on holiday or have family or friends who live there.

Character Education Example

We have developed a series of applications to help students with self-development via character education. This is based on learning from the processes used by amazing achievers. The award-winning website is at .

An example of how it is can be applied in the classroom is below. The website is packed with teacher guides and lesson plans for a wide spectrum of subject areas and all are linked with character education and wellbeing.

5 minutes – The educator introduces the lesson and indicates that students will discuss a key character concept such as ‘Purpose in Life’.

5 minutes – Video on life of an amazing person is shown from the website.

15 minutes – Students  discuss what they understand and mean by ‘Purpose’ based on the exemplar shown.

15 minutes – Each group can make a presentation of their ideas to the whole class.

10 minutes – The educator reviews both the content and style of the presentations with positive improvement feedback points raised.


These examples illustrate the action learning approaches that encourage students to:

  • comprehend through conversation.
  • construct positive ideas.
  • improve group problem-solving abilities.
  • develop presentation skills.
  • enhance self-development and motivation.
  • write personal reflections and learning points.


All of the above cannot be done using AI software, but can be achieved using classroom action learning (AL).