How to Create an Active Learning Environment?

  • Anagha Vallikat
    Anagha Vallikat

Student engagement always remain as the crux of the concern for teachers. Interest and participation from the students  Active learning is a method of learning that involves students’ active participation. It is a student-centered approach where teachers are the facilitators and not the only providers of information.

Active learning asks for students’ involvement to learn, unlike passive learning that only allows them to listen and absorb the information. Active learning requires the students to think, analyze, and discuss, while passive learning encourages them to assimilate and grasp the information provided.

In simple terms, active learning is activity-based learning. After each lecture, students are encouraged to discuss, debate, or converse with a classmate or small group. Discussions help in understanding, recalling and clarifying the information provided by the lecturer or facilitator. These interactions make active learning an effective and successful method of learning.

The goal of active learning is not just for the learners to do things. It is also to think about what they are doing. It is to encounter, engage, and reflect on the topic being learnt.

Examples of Active Learning Techniques

1.A Class Discussion

Class discussion is one of the best examples of active learning techniques. Discussions can be conducted in any type of environment and any size of the class. Although it is best to create smaller groups for discussion, this is one of the most effective ways of active learning.

Discussions allow thinking critically on any concept and use logic to evaluate one's own and others’ opinions.

2.Think-Pair-Share

Think-Pair-Share is an activity that allows the learners to ponder the lessons learned previously and discuss them with their peers, and later share their opinions with the whole class in a formal discussion. This activity is perfect for smaller groups due to the time and logistical constraints.

Think-pair-share allows students to interact with each other and make the class more interactive.

3.Learning Cell

Learning Cell is an effective way of active learning, where a pair of students is expected to study and learn together by alternatively asking and answering questions.

This activity also involves the teacher going from group to group, asking questions, and giving feedback to the students.

4.Just-In-Time Teaching

Just-in-time is an activity that uses pre-class questions. This is an effective activity that helps create a common ground between the teacher and the students before the class begins. It is a warm-up exercise that usually has many open-ended questions. This exercise was created to prepare for the class beforehand and for the teachers to obtain the students’ thoughts on the subject.

5.Learning by Teaching

Learning by teaching is a helpful exercise where the students participate, research, and prepare for a particular topic to teach it to the class.

This is an effective active learning method, as sometimes students understand their peers better than they understand their teachers. And the friendly environment also helps the learners communicate their thoughts easily.

6.A Class Game

Students often learn better when they play games. A class game is an energetic way to learn because it makes the topic fun. Class games help in reviewing a course just before exams.

It creates an exciting environment where all the learners have a healthy competition and share their thoughts with everyone.

Strategies of Active Learning in Online Classes

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life, especially the way of learning. Now, everything takes place online, be it work or education. So, new ways have to be designed to include active learning methods in online classes.

Given below are some effective active learning strategies that can be used in online classes.

1.Polling

Polling is a quick and easy way to gather the thoughts of the learners. It helps in getting the opinions of everyone in real-time. A poll is conducted on a statement or question to check if the learners agree with the teacher. Many applications offer polling for online classes and meetings. It helps in getting feedback and also decide the next topic the students want to learn. Polling helps in creating engagement and keeping the sessions interactive.

2.Think-Pair-Share

You can modify the active learning strategy of Think-Pair-Share from a physical classroom environment to fit the online classrooms.

In this strategy, the teacher throws a problem, scenario or asks a question. This strategy allows the learners to think, pair up with a partner, discuss it, and share the findings and takeaways with the whole class.

3.Minute Paper

Minute Paper is an activity that makes the learners complete a short paper, individually, in a minute or a few minutes. The activity is an effective learning strategy that lets the learners reflect on the content of the course. It also helps in quickly checking the knowledge of the learners.

Minute paper is an activity that one can do at the beginning, middle, or end of a particular course or topic.

4.Small-Group Discussions

Small group discussion is an exciting way for the students to dig deep into a topic. A facilitator or teacher can provide the learners with an open-ended issue, problem, or scenario.

This is an effective way even for online classrooms, as the facilitator can use breakout rooms for each group to discuss their points.

5.Short Student Presentations

Short presentations help provide an opportunity for students to do thorough research on a topic of their choice that relates to the course and present their findings in front of the whole class.

You can do short student presentations on almost all online tools with screen share features. It is a perfect activity that benefits the students and keeps them engaged in an online course.