Online :: Active Learning in Online Courses
Facilitating active learning in online learning environments

Active Learning in Online Courses

This resource is meant to aid in identifying, practicing, and implementing research-based active learning approaches. It can be used in both online and face-to-face learning environments. This guide should help you create and recognize opportunities to integrate active learning activities that facilitate desired student learning outcomes into your course in planned and dynamic ways.


Case Studies

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.

View Details

Defining Features Matrix

Defining Features Matrix requires students to categorize concepts according to the presence (+) or absence (–) of critical defining features. This activity helps students develop conceptual and organizational skills and data on their analytic reading and thinking skills. In large courses (150 +), it can be difficult to facilitate active learning. This document walks you through planning and implementing this approach in your large course.

View Details

Minute Paper/Muddiest Point

The Minute Paper/Muddiest Point approaches have students write quick responses to questions 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 _______ ?

View Details


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 by responding to an instructor's prompt. Students outside of the bowl listen and reflect on the alternative viewpoints.

View Details

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 deciding 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.

View Details

Student-Defined Questions

Student-Defined Questions help students individually reflect on a reading assignment, lecture, or presentation. Before class, students write a question based on that content and write a model answer for it. In class, student pairs exchange questions and write a response to the partner’s question. They trade, read, and compare answers. In large courses (150 ), facilitating active learning cannot be easy. This document walks you through planning and implementing this approach in your large course.

View Details


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 asks students to compare and contrast their thoughts with others and rehearse their responses before sharing them with the whole class.

View Details

Results: 1-13 of 13

No.Document TitleIDUpdatedViews
1Active Learning in Large Courses1040332024-04-243893
2Active Learning in Online Courses1044042024-04-244960
3Minute Paper/Muddiest Point in Large Courses (online)1033682024-04-244537
4Defining Features Matrix in Large Courses (online)1035842024-04-243503
5Pro and Con Grid in Large Courses (online)1037752024-04-243488
6Using Online Discussions to Increase Student Engagement1040342024-04-186114
7Think/Pair/Share (online)1044012024-04-164624
8Pro and Con Grid (online)1044082024-04-163640
9Online Peer Editing1079542024-04-163479
10Case Studies (online)1044052024-04-163128
11Minute Paper/Muddiest Point (online)1044072024-04-163904
12Fishbowl Discussion (online)1079822024-04-167186
13Background Knowledge Probe in Large Courses (online)1035992024-04-163411

Not finding what you are looking for? Suggest a new document be created, or try adjusting your search criteria.