Image from: Sheridan, CTL
Active Learning promotes “a deep, conceptual understanding of a topic that is the hallmark of rich learning as opposed to passively listening to a lecture and cramming for exams” (Hahn, 2018).
Active learning provides learners with opportunities to practice skills needed for procedural knowledge (i.e., knowledge formed by doing) (Michael, 2006).
Active Learning involves the construction and (co)construction of knowledge by the learner, engaging them in any of the three domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor). When engaged in learner-centered activities, learners are involved in a meaning-making learning process that facilitates an articulation of understanding and provides an opportunity to both ask and answer questions (Prince, 2004).
Here are some detailed descriptions of active learning strategies in individual, small group, and large group scenarios, as well as some great tips for adapting these activities in the online learning environment. Check it out Queen's University - Examples of Active Learning Activities.
At Sheridan, we use SLATE (Brightspace/D2L) as our Learning Management System (LMS). Learning can be facilitated within the LMS through the use of different tools that are both integrated and institutionally supported. We have a particular interest in creating learning experiences that provide students with the opportunity to interact with their faculty and their fellow students. This is done through both purposeful design and the use of various online tools.
When students need to make appointments to discuss issues pertaining to their courses with faculty, they are able to do so through Cisco Jabber/WebEx. These platforms provide options for students to connect with faculty members outside of the virtual classrooms. Visit the I.T. website for setting up web conferences.
At Sheridan, we have an excellent, premium tool for synchronous online learning called The Virtual Classroom. Classes can run up to 240 minutes in length and faculty members can take attendance in class—documenting each participant’s name, role, minutes of the session they attended, and number of chat messages they submitted. In addition to the large classroom where all students can interact with their faculty member, The Virtual Classroom offers the option of Breakout Rooms, where small groups of students can meet to discuss different topics in classroom activities and then return for debriefing in the larger classroom. The breakout rooms are also great for scheduling office hours or one-on-one meetings.
The other features that provide additional interactions and facilitate the learning process are document and desktop sharing, as well as live chat. This is particularly helpful when faculty are discussing different documents that they want to share with students. Students are able to see the document right on their screen rather than having to open up a separate document. Recording of meetings or of classes are also possible, which is a great feature so that students are able to return to the content delivered by their faculty member and the in-class discussions.
The Video Assignment tool is a great tool to promote both faculty and student interaction and student to student interaction. It is one of the tools that is available through Bongo- The Virtual Classroom and it is integrated into SLATE, our Learning Management System.
Through the Video Assignment Tool, both students and faculty are able to record and upload both documents and videos, as well as use the desktop share tool. Another feature that is particularly useful is the Meeting Creation tool, which offers a small group experience.
The evaluation tools with the video assignment tool are significant, including an auto analysis tool that encourages repeated practice and reflection, enables more targeted feedback, and supports the development of soft skills like communication and critical thinking. The Peer Review tool provides an opportunity for students to reflect on each other’s work and to learn about giving feedback. The choice between automatic and manual distribution of peer reviews gives the faculty member the freedom to respond to the learning context and the students.
When students need to make appointments to discuss issues pertaining to their courses with faculty, they are able to do so through Cisco Jabber/WebEx. These platforms provide options for students to connect with faculty members outside of the virtual classroom.
SLATE is equipped with a discussion forum that is integrated into every course. This provides faculty with an opportunity to design learning activities that give students a chance to both reflect and to contribute. The discussion forum can be integrated into the group function in SLATE, as well. There are a number of external tools that can be embedded into SLATE— Padlet and Flipgrid —that provide alternative discussion formats for students, as well. The addition of discussion forums can add significant engagement and interactivity to an online course.
The quiz tool in SLATE is quite sophisticated and provides the faculty member with lots of opportunity to interact with students even though they "aren’t in the room" with them. There is an optional description, introduction, and header/footer for each quiz and each quiz can be tailored for multiple learners. Special access can be granted for students with academic accommodations to allow for extra time or different dates. This access can be assigned on an individual basis.
There are a number of functions that are meant to discourage academic dishonesty as well:
Question Randomization- When enabled, the quiz tool draws questions from a Question Pool so that learners receive different questions in a random order.
Respondus Lockdown Browser: This tool performs the following functions:
Respondus Monitor: This tool builds upon the power of LockDown Browser, using a student’s webcam and industry-leading video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams.
Kaltura is another tool that we have integrated into our LMS. Kaltura is a screen capture tool that both faculty and students can use to create and share video content with each other. It can capture both the screen and the scope of the webcam to create asynchronous videos that have the capacity to incorporate a quizzing tool. This tool is perfect for student assignments, exam review and for the delivery of content. It provides an opportunity for asynchronous content delivery so that students are able to interact with their faculty in different ways when they are in the synchronous delivery.
Hahn, B., (2018, December 10). How people learn best: Active vs passive learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://learninghub.openlearning.com/2018/12/10/how-people-learn-best-active-vs-passive-learning/
Pappas, C. (2014). 7 tips to develop a successful interactive elearning strategy. E-learning Industry website. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/7-tips-to-develop-successful-interactive-elearning-strategy