Active Learning is an approach to learner-centered education that utilizes instructional techniques that involve students in reading, writing, discussing, reflecting, teaching others and creating in order to help them learn. I don’t want to focus on theories, so I have chosen to group some of the techniques into the following categories:
Active Memory Aids
Drill and Practice Games (with Feedback)
Write Pair Share
Case Based Learning
Educational Strategy Games
Constructing Meaningful Artifacts
Presenting with PowerPoint
To further your understanding of what Active Learning looks like, please see the examples collected here:
we also encourage meaning making through the use of reflective writing techniques on blogs. often people create artifacts but they are lacking in reflection and insight - to me that is what makes something meaningful.
I have developed a three-step reflective framework as part of my Doctorate in Education thesis research.
The idea is to encourage reflective writing using a template so that users step through three steps of reflection - 1. Take notice and describe the experience - what you know, think feel, need, decisions; 2. analyse the experience - why the actions and decisions, reactions, 3. Take action - what learned and how will you use it - goals.
They use this framework and the template with prompts to create evidence for electronic portfolios. I am still analysing data but have anecdotal feedback from participants and students I have used it with, who have found it particularly useful if they didn't know how to write reflectively.
I am interested to find out how others are using portfolios in their teaching and learning.
I've noticed that although faculty believe reflection is important, it is rarely actualized or marked.
And: reflection is rarely practiced by faculty in their own domain. :-) In my experience.
We spent some time in 2005 creating structures for reflection working with 35 or more faculty. One or two were currently carrying out any personal reflection (I forget which) - because they had a masters paper to do that required it.
One reason reflection is rarely marked: it is hard to do. I agree: Bron's approach has some useful insights.
I have looked at the list several times, but let me start with this section:
Active Memory Aids
Drill and Practice Games (with Feedback)
Can someone provide some examples of each of those for adults and how they would be used by adults in an online environment active learning strategy mode?
How are you providing the knowledge behind the strategy itself..for example mind mapping and simulations? Those would appear to me to be more of a higher level function than mnemonics for active learning online.
Yes we will be providing examples of these sorts of strategies provided by students in the coming months as part of the LexDis project. At the moment they are very much in draft format and really we are not ready to show folks, but there is one related to what I suppose you could call 'using cue cards with audio' hidden on the project's website . I am sharing this with the group early on but please do not pass on as the strategies will be stored in a database in a few months time.
There will be examples of student's using mindmaps with on-line resources and perhaps a few more active learning examples - not sure they will be the ones mentioned in your list!
Best wishes E.A.
Mnemonics: I taught a class to residents yesterday and on three occasions they created mnemonics for procedure steps we were talking about. There is a website devoted to medical mnemonics. http://www.medicalmnemonics.com/
Singing/rhyming: There is a great little song called "Call a Code" set to when you are happy and you know it written by a resident to help interns remember the rules for calling Code Blue.
MindMapping: In the workshop yesterday, a student spontaneously created a mindmap and shared it with the class as we were talking about issues of physician stress. I think she was able to do this because it fit her learning style and because many of our faculty use mindmaps to help students both understand and remember content. Helping students make links between previously learned content and current information helps retrieve that new information from memory. Mindmaps are also used for higher level understanding and I've seen online faculty in education and women studies use them for this purpose.
CueCards: I don't have a good example of this, but I know students use these for studying formulas.
Drill and practice games: Medical students love PowerPoint Jeopardy http://www.sunderlandschools.org/mfl-sunderland/resources%20gen%20pz.htm
Many of our faculty use it for reviews before exams and study groups here have been creating their own versions. Several of our faculty have been creating online games for review purposes, but I can't show you examples because they are within our LMS system. Students know that some of the questions will be on the exam, so they use them quite happily. Snakes and Ladders has been rated quite highly because its quick and feels like a break from reading.
Active Reading/Listening: Since focusing attention is the first step to remembering, I included this here. In all of the online courses I created at the university, pre-unit questions kicked off each section. For some creative ESL examples, see
Simulations: Simulations are primarily used to help students with deeper learning http://www.invisionguide.com/heart/flash/index_reg.html but they can also be used for memorizing anatomy terms, one of the most overwhelming tasks that medical students are faced with. http://www.medtropolis.com/VBody.asp
For some reason I am not getting the messages by email..sent an email to Sylvia to see if I messed something up somewhere. I am still learning Moodle. I thought maybe I had upset you all with my Q!
I guess what was confounding me was the word "online" since in my glossary that means done in a web based environment, with a web based tool as the design mechanism. I have found tools and some examples for creating some of them in an online environment, but the strategy behind the use and why it was being used in that manner for "active learning" +"online" was what I was trying to clarify personally.
Much of the material out there is for "instructional strategies," but the details are less than adequate, especially if you start trying to combine the "learning strategy" process with the instructional strategy in searches. I guess I will have to work on finishing my idea that I started a year ago!
Thank you again.
Bev, you're right, I should have been more online specific. I was just very excited to have confirmation that when instructors use some of these memory techniques, students will use them as well.
In most cases, memory techniques convert fairly easily to online use. For example:
"Medical Schools Let Confident People In" for internal jugular vein from inferior to superior:
Inferior petrosal sinus
provides the same memory aid whether it's written on a flip chart or on a webpage. It might be even more powerful if a student created it and added it to a discussion or blog.
So is there a specific memory strategy/ies that you would like to explore at more depth?
We developed activities under the category of "At Your Workplace". Learners are given specific tasks to complete in their workplace under the supervision of some in their trade with more experience (co-worker, supervisor).
We created online forms that replicate the electronic forms they will encounter when placing an online order in their workplace.
Level 3 is cohort based so we've included synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaborative activities throughout using tools such as Gliffy and Google Docs.
A similar program exists for preemployment learners (as opposed to apprentices). The delivery is face-to-face and those courses have always been a split between lecture and lab work. Starting this year, the learners will work in groups of 3-4 researching topics determined by the instructors. Each group will then present their findings to the other groups. Instructor lead lectures are being reduced dramatically.
We're also setting up private communities in Ning to connect apprentices, pre-employement students, and experienced parts people.
Introduction to active/cooperative learning:
Sage's journal: Active Learning in Higher Education
Jon Mueller's Authentic Assessment Toolbox
Tips for Teaching from UC-Berkeley (see esp. section 5)
Add Active Learning to Large Classes
Craig Nelson's paper on need for changing teaching paradigms given increasing diversity of students:
Anything from Richard Felder of North Carolina State, particularly related to the sciences. For example:
He discovered that students immediately after a science lecture remember 10% of the facts and 25% of the concepts. He thought that a lack of understanding of science created the results, so he did a similar study with members of his faculty and got similar result. His conclusion was we should be teachng science as if we were scientists, see http://blogs.usask.ca/medical_education/archive/2007/06/teaching_medici.html for my take on his approach.
One of the best resources I've found is by Jonathan Finkelstein: Learning in Real Time: Synchronous Teaching and Learning Online, although I haven't had too many opportunities to try these out. More info about the book and Jonathan's work can be found on his Real Time Minute blog.
Does anyone have further resources and ideas for active learning techniques in real time sessions?
We're using Wimba Live Classroom for rich synchronous sessions - the generic term we use is web conferencing.
EDUCAUSE calls these "virtual meetings"; they have a "7 Things" 2-pager on virtual meetings:
It's worth a few minutes to look through the EDUCAUSE resource library on e-learning for resources that might be helpful:
The next presenter was standard PowerPoint and it was such a let down.
From the instructor's point of view, he quickly learned that he had to enable/disable chat to keep things manageable. But pausing the presentation periodically for questions submitted via chat or audio (and using the hand-raising/queuing feature to call on students 1-by-1) results in many more questions than are typically asked in class. Somehow students find it easier to engage in this setting than in the 500-seat lecture hall. Even more interesting, though, is that once students have had a few of these interactive online sessions, there is a spillover effect back to the regular in-person sessions, where students do begin to ask questions and respond much more than they used to.
Further, students who watch the archive report that the questions the students asked were just what they would have asked had they participated live. The instructor also uses the polling feature for online sessions very similarly to the way he uses clickers for in-class engagement and feedback.
So, the instructor is convinced that he would never simply "can" a lecture for online viewing - having an active audience is very important to him.
Wimba Live Classroom sounds similar to Interwise. I taught English to speakers of other languages using hotconference and Interwise. I loved the class dynamics. One benefit to both synchronous and asynchronous learning is the fact that learners can multi-task. This is especially helpful to visual, kinesthetic learners who may find the face-to-face lecture format difficult to follow.
I recommend you take a look at WiZiQ's free Virtual classroom platform to aid in your online collaborations.
WiZiQ is an online teaching platform, which provides a free virtual classroom environment for teachers to interact online and teach students in real time. Teachers can also build a profile, keep an availability schedule, and maintain a content library, which is associated with their profiles, by uploading PowerPoint presentations and PDF Files.
WiZiQ offers the following features:
Works in Flash format and needs no downloads
2-way live audio/video delivery
Whiteboard with Math tools
Synchronous Content sharing such as PowerPoint (retains animations and transitions), PDF, Flash, MS Word,
MS Excel files and videos
Records all sessions to be played back in Flash format (needs no downloads)
Share PowerPoint presentations asynchronously even with narrated audio in slides
WiZiQ's Blog <a href="http://wiziq.typepad.com/http://wiziq.typepad.com/">http://wiziq.typepad.com/</a>
Feedback from Nellie, English Teacher
Wiziq YouTube Presentations:
Free Online Virtual Classroom
WiZiQ's free Virtual Classroom is an online internet mediated classroom where the teacher and the students are connected to share a common workspace. In this online session, they make use of audio-video conferencing, text chat, whiteboard, and content sharing capabilities. There are no costs for using the virtual classroom. The sessions are recorded and are available online on WiZiQ, which can be accessed for later review or reference.
Attendees can join a session with privileges to converse verbally with others; draw and write on whiteboard; and share Presentations, PDFs, Flash and Images. The teacher may withdraw or re-assign these privileges to the attendees. A Teacher can withdraw privileges from the attendee in terms that the attendee can not converse, or upload anything to share on whiteboard; in this case, the attendee is a spectator. An attendee can also request for rights, in which case, the teacher can click on the attendee’s name to transfer control.
Features for Teachers
Offers a complete online teaching management system to its registered teachers without installing any software.
Teachers get their own virtual classroom at no costs.
Provides the ability to schedule a session online through a calendar at teachers’ convenience.
Teachers can interact with students through an online whiteboard to share text or documents, and through a two-way audio and text chat.
Teachers can build their profile.
Provides the ability to conduct one-on-one or group sessions online.
Payments from learners can be accepted.
Teachers can maintain a learners’ corner.
- Asynchronous discussion boards (both for low resource (developing world) and for high resource settings). These discussion boards are graded and we use a grading template to help the teachers to give an objective grading. The grading mechanisms are also mentioned to the students, giving them the opportunity to produce the best possible discussion content;
- Case based learning: peer-to-peer discussion boards on specific content which is supervised by a content specialist, but which focusses on the student’s experiences and solutions;
- Immediate student involvement in the setting up of courses. Each year we ask students to give case studies (because they are post-graduate medical students, a lot of them are already working in the field), to build part of the courses and assessments. After their input the most interesting and relevant examples of case studies and assessments are put into next years curriculum and the students that provided the material are mentioned.
- Videolearning: we just started with videolearning. We ask the students to post relevant material on a video and discuss that material on the videoblog that is provided for that purpose.
- Introductionary courses on social media: because we have a lot of international students, a lot of them do not know social media. After the introducation most of them immediately take up at least one social software for their personal learning environment or for their peer learning environment.
- mobile learning: we use a couple of projects to involve the learners in participating in research through mobile data collection, which gives them a better understanding of the natural evolution of certain diseases.
I really like the sound of your Videolearning example. "We ask the students to post relevant material on a video and discuss that material on the videoblog that is provided for that purpose."
do you have any examples we can look at?
I really like the idea of discussing a video and having text linked to it for the reasons mentioned by Prof Coombs in a recent EASI e-mail
"Educators are rushing into using podcasts to disseminate their lectures and a few are also playing with actual Vodcasts too. But few have given thought to just how useful is a podcast as a delivery tool for teaching and learning. When a podcast is used while the student is driving or jogging, how much is really assimilated? Both listening to radio and watching TV are essentially passive activities. Many of us teachers believe that learning is a more active and even best an interactive activity.
How can podcasts and vodcasts be made more interactive? If the presenter provides an accompanying text version of the lecture, the listener has a tool where he or she can underline, highlight and insert comments and notes while listening or watching. This begins to simulate more closely the activity of taking notes in a face-to-face lecture. This interactive process itself enhances learning. Then, reviewing the lecture becomes easier and more meaningful. It is also true that getting 2 simultaneous sources of information reinforces that information. It also means that it does not matter whether the student is primarily an auditory or visual learner as they have both modes in front of them."
This comes from and e-mail about EASI Webinars
Best wishes E.A.
Elementary school example
Here are a couple of tools that might make the process easier:
Bubbleply adds bubble comments to videohttp://www.bubbleply.com/default.aspx
Innertoob adds popup comment or question windows to podcasts http://www.innertoob.com/
The courses are:
1) design for flexible learning practice (http://flexiblelearningpractice.blogspot.com/) and
2) facilitating eLearning communities (http://online-learning-communities.blogspot.com/)
Each course has a blog for information, resources and announcements plus each participant keeps a weblog of their learning through the course - participants are encouraged to comment on each others blogs including the facilitators, wikiEducator is used for content and collaborative "barn building" and an email group is used for immediate contact.
We also have computer conferencing and at the moment are running a 10 min lecture series on online facilitation - details on the course blog facilitating eLearning communities (http://online-learning-communities.blogspot.com/) where most of the time is spent in question and discussion after the short presentation. this is working really well.
somewhere in the background is some discussion and content on Blackboard which is used to start people off because that is where they are comfortable.
I will post our assessments of blogs and wikis etc on the assessment forum.
At Paul Torrences website he suggests the following stages:
The stages of the creative process:
- Finding or formulating a problem. George Kneller (American psychologist) called this stage "first insight."
- Researching and drawing from life experiences (memory), networking, etc. This stage is variously called "discovery" and "saturation."
- Mulling over the problem in a sort of chaos of ideas and knowledge, letting go of certainties (forgetting). Jacob Getzel (American psychologist) called this stage "incubation" -- engaging the intuitive, non-sequential, or global thinking at the core of creativity.
- One or more ideas surface. This is also called "immersion" and "illumination."
- The idea is tested as a potential solution to the problem. Getzel called this "verification." This final stage often involves revision — conscious structuring and editing of created material.
This is in fact where I cut my teeth online. "Real World Problem Solving", a Masters course at the University of Canterbury in 1997. Based on the NTEN teacher development programmes run out of Montana State Uni (Bozeman) and run mainly online.
The first time is still vivid in my mind.
Our lecturer called himself a "Kiwi Wannabe, and had bought a batch near Charleston (a little piece of paradise on our West Coast). We got some plans etc, and the first problem was:
I can remember surfing the net to read up specs from pumps, considering human operated, solar powered, push pumps, suck pumps and pipe material. We could ask any questions we wanted. We worked on this problem over about three weeks. John Eyles teaches design somewhere up north here: drafts, showcases, feedback, mulling, incubation, guest experts and guest non experts (like your mother) are all part of the equation.
There are technology classes her who do "Design a breakfast food", "design a cookie" and have tastings and feedback where results are entered online. In our course we did breakfast food habit surveys in three continents via friends on the internet.
As a side note: in my course we looked at creative processes, design processes etc etc first, then did the stuff, and spent serious time analysing the actual processes in our four projects afterwards. This was beneficial as well - and the processes are somehow caught in the online environment. The online environment ("First Class" at that time) provided the scaffolding and structure - but there was a LOT of free wheeling inside that.
I have an opinion here: lots of LMS, CMS systems provide TOO MUCH rigidity and structure. The social software apps I think would provide a better (More 'creative'??) setting. I'm at the moment looking for some projects for next year inside courses at work to test this. I'm thinking aloud here. Two things: a tight linear structure imposed by a teacher can still ruin a class in a nice online environment. A tight linear controlled environment will not lock down the teaching of a creative teacher.
1. Identifying the problem:Students frequently jump to conclusions about what the problem is. I love the quote from Einstein that says
"A tight linear controlled environment will not lock down the teaching of a creative teacher. "
Oh how true - I'm constantly being asked 'which VLE/LMS etc is better - I find it really hard to answer as I've seen some excellent teaching with the platform almost irrelevant.
Using visioning to stimulate thinking forces us to look forward and discover what common purpose or interests we share to develop visions of "what could be". This can be extremely creative and engages everyone in the process as well as an investment in the result. Visioning draws out and away from "what we cant do" and into the space of "where anything is possible".
I work with values, visioning and scenarios so that people can see how to connect the present to the future with a clear path they can populate with events, projects and processes to get them there.
The question of "what to learn" is of great interest to me.
I am in awe of the opportunity web connectivity provides to "open source" our knowledge and pardon me while I get a bit teary eyed here - the potential it offers the human race. Ah but looking at the zeitgeist it disheartens me to see that our top google searches are for Hollywood movie stars and "man bites dog" media stories.
Building on Colby's comment
Are there also techniques to help us determine what we should actively pursue?
I am enjoying this conversation, Thank you Dierdre for laying it out in such an organized way.
Top 100 Tools for Learning Summary
It is rather basic, but it's always nice to have a listing with links and explanations.
Comes from Jane's eLearning Pick of the Day blog
However, as much as I love using and creating WebQuests, what allows me to engage my students in active learning is Moodle.
Active Learning- I think we can describe acive leraning as deep learning too.According to the Biggs(1999) "Students focus their attention on the underlying meaning or message. They attempt to relate ideas together and construct their own meaning, possibly in relation to their own experience"
But it is totally diffrent from passive leaning which Students focus their attention on isolated details. They are often trying to memorize these individual details in the same form in which they first appeared. (Biggs, 1999)
Excellent read and very inspiring as well as rich in information and reference. To me, he addresses everything you need to know about active learning. He addresses issues like the core media skills needed, how we should teach, and the core problems.
"The new skills include:
Play— the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance— the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation
Simulation— the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world
Appropriation— the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking— the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient
Distributed Cognition— the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand
Collective Intelligence— the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with
others toward a common goal
Judgment— the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information
Transmedia Navigation— the ability to follow the flow of stories and information
across multiple modalities
Networking— the ability to search for,synthesize,and disseminate information
Negotiation— the ability to travel across diverse communities,discerning and respecting multiple perspectives,and grasping and following alternative norms. "
Its great to read stuff like this. This will be very useful for two courses I am teaching - Designing for Flexible learning practice and Facilitating eLearning Communities. We use course blogs for both so you can follow what is happening. We have also been running a 10 minute lecture series in Facilitating eLearning Communities with well known people in the online communities arena e.g. Nancy White, George Siemens, James Farmer etc - there are links to them on the course blog.
It will also be a good resource for an action research project we are about to start working with participants - staff and students in tertiary organisations - to extend their digital information literacy. Title: Developing digital information literacy of staff and students: An action research project.
We have been doing some work in this area on WikiEducator - Commonwealth of Learning - Digital Information Literacy and also a project - Online Information Literacy modules - there is one there specifically on digital information literacy (DIL). The 12 modules are open to all and are customisable - the online nature of them should assist people in developing their DIL skills - they will be the basis of the research project.
Regarding your "Developing digital information literacy of staff and students: An action research project", have you considered aligning your research with other institutions researching the same? Digital literacy is becoming a focus and very quickly a "catch-all" category under which many people are developing courses, research and practices.
I've been slowly gathering evidence of this along with links to others who are framing this category so that they can use it to shape learning studies.
There are two new online active learning language programs recently released.
LiveMocha is interesting because students can engage with other online participants in conversation to practice the language they're learning.
I would like to see both of these platforms available for more than just learning languages because they offer so much of the social engagement needed for particular levels of active learning.
Student created learning resources: Because students frequently have higher levels of technical knowledge than their instructors, some faculty have been offering opportunities for students to create learning objects that the instructor can use in future courses. We talked about using Blogs and wikis in this way in previous SCoPE seminars but I think there are many online tools that could be used in this way.
Visual Mnemonics: I had seen this in an online women's studies course, but had forgotten about it until someone send me some information about a new book on Visual Mnemonics in Pathology by Laurie Marbas and Erin Case. As with other mnemonics, if teachers use them, there will be an increase in students creating their own and sharing them with the class. Here is an example from the pathology book.