Incorporating Active Learning into the Online Classroom

Written by: Jessica Sender

Primary Source: Information Literacy Resources

It seems that lately, I’m reading more and more blog entries, articles, posts, tweets, etc., about how online learning can be either the greatest thing to happen to education, or the worst. It seems that one of the biggest issues facing those who teach online is how to keep students engaged and learning, especially when students can be spread across states, time zones, or continents. This brief article, entitled “Incorporating Active Learning Into the Online Classroom,” outlines five main activities to incorporate into online learning:

collaborative group work
writing to learn
questioning
scaffolding
discussion

The instruction that we do as part of our face to face WRA courses do many of these already, so incorporating them into online courses can be done with a little tweaking-how can we make discussion happen online? Many LMS’s have discussion or forums available for integration into the course site, so those can be used effectively to create discussion among students, especially while students are learning online. There are chat features we can use, so students can question not only the material they’re working with, but also pose questions for instructors. Group work can be tricky online, but content management systems, and things like Google Drive can be effectively employed to encourage collaboration-with Google Drive, instructors can have students collaborate on a document, presentation, project, and have students submit or share. In this manner, instructors are able to observe the group work happening without having to physically be in a class or walking around a classroom.

What about you? What active learning techniques that you use in your IL classes would be easily transferable to an online setting?

Lovingly written by Jessica Sender

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Jessica Sender
Jessica Sender is the Instructional Technology and Information Literacy Librarian at Michigan State University. After growing up in Illinois, attending the College of Wooster in Ohio and Indiana University, Jessica fled the Midwest to North Carolina, and worked for three years as Instructional Technology Librarian at Guilford College, in Greensboro, NC. Although reluctant to brave Midwest winters again, she is happy to be back in the Big Ten. Her research interests focus on academic and instructional technologies, the digital divide, and technology literacy.
Jessica Sender

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