Take control of the learning experience.

Active learning in the digital age allows learners to take control of their learning experience, teaches learners to think for themselves, which creates life-long learners, and promotes the overall, deep understanding of material, not just memorization for assignments.

Five Take-Aways

1. Active learning in the digital age is inclusive.
Students with different learning styles can take learning into their own hands. Meaning, however they see it fit to complete a project, they will be able (under guidelines, of course.)

2. Active learning in the digital age is necessary.
It creates well rounded individuals and promotes accountability, in the online classroom, and eventually in the workplace.

3. Active learning in the digital age is possible.
Many believe that active learning can only take place in the classroom, but there are many resources that have shown to be effective active learning strategies in the online classroom. It takes time to implement active learning in the online classroom, but practice makes perfect.

4. Active learning in the digital age builds relationships.
Active learning promotes relationships because without active learning, students will feel left alone in their journey. Active learning may allow students to make connections necessary for the future (real world) and provide motivation and purpose in their learning.

5. Active learning in the digital age is flexible.
The world is changing; Active learning creates a growth mindset, which helps learners adapt to change.


For Further Reading

Active Learning Strategies

To use fishbowl in the digital age, professors must first choose the topic. Once the topic is chosen, let students know so they have some time to prepare their thoughts. Four to five people at a time can unmute their microphone and rotate sharing thoughts. The professor will rotate in students by putting their name in the chat section. Students will see their name and know it is their time to share.

Just as in the classroom, professors can randomly or strategically divide students up and send them to their small group. They will all discuss the topic. When the professor is ready, he/she can make them join the main group again. Then, have people from each group share what they talked about.

In the middle of online classes, specifically blackboard, professors can create polls that will pop up on the screen. This can assure that students are actively participating in class. Polls can also be used in this way during in-person classes. Have students use their laptops or smartphones to participate in polls.

In the online classroom, professors start by presenting the case study to the class. Students work in pairs or small groups to solve the case study. This can be ongoing, only done for ten minutes a day as a warmup, or however the professor sees fit. Students will have work to do such as interviews, journals, or discussions with the class. Once each group has solved their case study, they can present with the class. This can be done by using the main group and breakout groups in online classrooms.

Collaborative Projects are simply group projects. This can be a very wide variety of scenarios. Professors can give students the content and rubric for their projects. Students in the same area can meet. Students not in the same area can work online by sharing documents and presentations.

The minute paper strategy takes exactly one minute. In the online classroom, students can type their answers in the chat boxes. Students have one minute to answer two questions: what were the main points of the lesson today and what is still unclear? Professors will be able to see if students were able to understand the big picture of the lesson.

Tips for Active Learning

Turning cameras on assures that students are at least watching the online slides because everyone can see what they are doing. While requiring students to keep their cameras on can raise equity, access, and inclusion concerns. Professors can require cameras for only specific activities or class portions, such as small group discussions.

Rubics allow students to see what they need to be doing and the criteria they need to meet, but allows students to take initiative and create on their own means.
For help on creating rubrics contact sarah.nichter [at] ucumberlands.edu (sarah[dot]nichter[at]ucumberlands[dot]edu)

Allowing students multiple attempts can help them to understand content better. At the first attempt, they may not understand the content. After they see what their learning gaps are, they can independently teach themselves and try again.

Note taking allows students to stay focused and gives them a resource to review when preparing for assignments and exams. Some professors make students create notebooks and turn them in periodically.

Make students take turns presenting information in small groups - When students must take turns presenting, they must all understand the content at hand. If a professor asked for volunteers, only the students who paid attention would answer. Therefore, make every voice known and let them show what they know.

Did this work out? The professor must evaluate if each strategy tried worked for his or her specific students and classroom environment. Classes and students are different, therefore, the same strategy will not work for every group or situation.