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Active Learning in Online Courses
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Facilitating active learning in online learning environments
These resource is meant to aid in the identification, practice, and implementation of research-based active learning approaches. It can be used in both online and face-to-face learning environments. This guide should help you to create and recognize opportunities to integrate active learning activities that facilitate desired student learning outcomes into your course in both planned and dynamic ways.|
The Case Studies approach has student teams review a written study of a real-world scenario containing a field-related problem or situation. Case studies usually include a brief history of the situation and present a dilemma the main character is facing. Team members apply course concepts to identify and evaluate alternative approaches to solving the problem.
Minute Paper/Muddiest Point
The Minute Paper/Muddiest Point approaches have students write quick responses to a question to help instructors gain insight or understanding of content. Questions could include: “What was the most important thing you learned today?“; “What important question remains unanswered?”; or “What was the muddiest point in _______ ?”
The Fishbowl Discussion is a teaching strategy that encourages full student participation, reflection, and depth of knowledge. A small group of students is selected to be the fish (in the fishbowl) while the rest of the class will be observers (out of the fishbowl). Students in the bowl participate in a discussion responding to an instructor prompt. Students outside of the bowl listen and reflect on the alternative viewpoints.
Pro and Con Grid
The Pro and Con Grid approach has students follow a decision-making process by reviewing an issue, creating a list of pro and con arguments, and making a decision based on the weight and analysis of those points. A review of students’ lists reveals the depth and breadth of their analyses, capacity for objectivity, and strength of their decision-making skills.
The Small-Group Discussions approach provides students the opportunity to share ideas or opinions without having to address the entire class. A simple small-group discussion asks students to divide into groups and democratically discuss a prompt provided by the instructor. A member is selected to report the highlights from their discussion to the entire class. Small-group discussion structures include group member roles (note-taker, devil's advocate, expert, spokesperson), turn-taking rules for speaking, and team or individual discussion question worksheets.
The Think/Pair/Share approach poses a question, asks students to reflect on the question, and has them share their ideas with others. Think has students reflect before speaking to organize their thoughts. Pair and Share ask students to compare and contrast their thoughts with others and rehearse their responses before sharing with the whole class.