Digital Learning Strategy: How can I build active learning into my blended subject delivery?

When teaching and learning activities are transferred to an online environment, lecturers often seek a direct replication of the face-to-face teaching model which ignores many of the opportunities online activities offer for improving students engagement and deep learning.

This module is designed to guide you through pedagogical approaches and practical considerations for incorporating active and engaging student activities in your blended subject.

By the end of this module you will:

  • Be able to identify active pedagogical approaches and implement into your subject teaching and learning activities
  • Be able to apply or customise models of blended delivery
  • Be able to identify key tools to structure the learning environment

Introduction

Developing your subject for blended delivery gives you the chance to explore active learning pedagogies to support your students' learning. Bonwell and Eison (1991) define active learning as engaging students in higher order thinking through analysis, synthesis and evaluation via activities that involve 'students doing things and thinking about what they are doing.' Active learning can increase content knowledge and improve students problem-solving abilities compared to traditional lecture-based delivery (Anderson et. al, 2005) and support building graduate capabilities skills in inquiry and analysis, literacy and communication and personal and professional skills (Terenzin et.al, 2001). Listed below are some approaches that encourage active learning.

Step 1: Think about an active learning approach and tools that support your intended learning outcomes

Flipped classroom

The flipped classroom is a form of blended learning that incorporates activities students undertake outside of the lecture in their own time to enhance interaction between the teacher and students in the face-to-face environment. There is no one model for the flipped classroom; essentially, instruction that used to occur in a face-to-face environment is performed by students away from the classroom or online, while face-to-face interaction involves activities that apply theories and concepts introduced in online materials by working through problems and case studies, exploring advanced concepts, and engaging in collaborative learning.

Decide which tools will support your desired outcomes

Activity Consideration & Guides Tools
Web conference / Synchronous web cast Does your lecture need to be a synchronous activity? Or can it be replaced by asynchronous events and activities affording more flexibility in your subject? Collaborate
Zoom*
Video and podcast What are your requirements: guest lecture, interview, desktop recording, audio, video, high or low production quality and time frame. Echo Personal Capture
Camtasia
One Button Studio
LTLT video production (Strategic projects)
LTLT Tech Lending Library
Mobile phone
Camera
Online interactive module An interactive module can make use of a variety of resources and incorporate video, audio, weblinks, embedded online activities like flashcards, quizzes and games. Moodle Lesson
Moodle Book
Moodle Quiz
Adobe Captivate*
Articulate
Storyline
OER (Open Education Resources) Open education resources are not just videos but wholly online courses and modules. You can also produce OER resources and make them freely available or use an open platform that allows you to collaborate with another institution to produce resources.

SLOW TV
Open Culture, SnagFIlms
Internet Archive, TED Talks
ABC Archives
197 YouTube Channels you should know about iTunes U
Academic Earth University of Washington Streaming Video Guide
The Age TV
Radio Lab
This American Life
ACMI Generator

Open Resource

UNSW – Flipped Classroom

Reading

Berrett, D. (2012). How Flipping the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19.

Enquiry based learning

'EBL describes an environment in which learning is driven by a process of enquiry owned by the student. Starting with a 'scenario' and with the guidance of a facilitator, students identify their own issues and questions. They then examine the resources they need to research the topic, thereby acquiring the requisite knowledge. Knowledge so gained is more readily retained because it has been acquired by experience and in relation to a real problem.'

Activity Considerations Tools

Web Conference/Synchronous web cast

Do you require any sychronous online activity to support your EBL design or can it be replaced by asynchronous events and activities affording more flexibility in your subject

Collaborate
Zoom*

Video and Podcast

Record your own instructions, scenarios or introductions to problems. Consider  your requirements: guest lecture, interview, desktop recording, audio, video, high or low production and time frame.

Echo Personal Capture
Camtasia
One Button Studio
LTLT video production (Strategic projects)
LTLT Tech Lending Library
Mobile phone
Camera

Online Interactive Module

An interactive module can be used to present case studies or branching scenarios in EBL

Moodle Lesson
Moodle Book
Moodle Quiz
Adobe Captivate*
Articulate
Storyline

OER

Use or create OER to present case studies or scenarios.

Open education resources are not just videos but wholly online courses and modules.  You can also produce OER resources and make them freely available or use an open platform that allows you to collaborate with another institution to produce resources.

SLOW TV
Open Culture, SnagFIlms
Internet Archive, TED Talks
ABC Archives
197 YouTube Channels you should know about iTunes U
Academic Earth University of Washington Streaming Video Guide
The Age TV
Radio Lab

This American Life
ACMI Generator
Vimeo

Group or individual Assignments

Student work in groups on projects in wikis, on video collaboration and presentation sites. 

Moodle OU Wiki
Moodle Assignment
Prezi*
Slideshare*
Youtube* / Vimeo*
We Video*
TedEd*
Creatavist*
Flickr*
SoundCloud*
Powerpoint
Office Mix
Projeqt*
Empressr*

Group Project Management

Groups manage their groupwork and files through project management applications.

Freedcamp*
Slack*
Basecamp*
Trello*

Group Curation

Students work in groups in collaborative knowledge construction activities. 

Moodle Glossary
ScoopIt*
Storify*
Padlet*
Pinterest*

Group meetings

Students organize synchronous or asynchronous meetings to discuss project progress and requirements.

Collaborate
Ucroo
Zoom*
Google Hangouts*
Mightybell*
Facebook*
Moodle Forum

Open Resource

University of Manchester – Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Base Learning

Reading

McAlpine, I., Pannan, L., Fitzmaurice, K. (2008). Steps towards an enquiry-based blended learning design in curriculum change in Health Sciences, In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008.

Peer learning

Peer learning is a social constructivist pedagogy in which peer interaction is structured through problem solving and scenarios to facilitate student learning with more capabale peers within the 'zone of proximinal development' (Vygotsky, 1978). Peer learning is a guided or scaffolded activity and includes peer instruction and peer review or assessment. Peer learning can provide opportunities for learning in formal and informal contexts.

Decide which tools will support your desired outcomes

Activity Considerations Tools
Peer created and reviewed questions Students explain their understanding of the subject through creation, discussion and rating of related assessment questions.

Moodle Wiki
Peerwise*

Peer reviewed project Students provide anonymous qualitative and quantitative feedback to their peers on draft writing tasks. Moodle Workshop
Moodle Forum
Moodle Database

Open Resource

UQ – Active Learning Pedagogies – Peer Learning

Reading

Presler, R. (2009).  Replacing the Lecture with Peer-led Workshops Improved Student Learning, Life Sciences Education, 8 (3), pp 182-192.

Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning offers opportunities to foster both peer and faculty interaction for students to positively affects learning outcomes. Collaborative learning differs from peer learning as students learn with each other rather than from each other. Chickering and Gamson's identify collaborative leanring as one of seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987) fostering an intellectual richness in the student experience that more traditional pedagogies do not (Tinto, 1997). Collaborative learning creates a positive interdependence and individual accountability that becomes a medium for active engagement in the learning process (Stebleton, Jensen & Peter, 2010).

Decide which tools will support your desired outcomes

Activity Considerations Tools
Group assignments Students work in groups on projects in wikis, on video collaboration and presentation sites.

Moodle OU Wiki
Moodle Assignment
Prezi*
Slideshare*
Youtube* / Vimeo*
We Video*
TedEd*
Creatavist*
Flickr*
SoundCloud*
Powerpoint
Office Mix
Projeqt*
Empressr*

Group project management Groups manage their groupwork and files through project management applications. Freedcamp*
Slack*
Basecamp*
Trello*
Group curation Students work in groups in collaborative knowledge construction activities. Moodle Glossary
ScoopIt*
Storify*
Padlet*
Pinterest*
Group meetings Students organise synchronous or asynchronous meetings to discuss project progress and requirements.Collaborate
Ucroo
Zoom*
Google Hangouts*
Mightybell*
Facebook*

Open Resource

UQ – Active Learning Pedagogies – Collaborative Learning

Reading

Brindley, J., Walti, C. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment, The International Review of Research in Open Distributed Learning, 10 (3).

Step 2: Think about how you want to deliver the course

You can replace video conferenced lectures with a blended learning model to increase flexibility for your students. Blended learning design ranges from online learning combined with face- to-face teaching, online learning and condensed or intense face-to-face teaching blocks or fully online learning.

Blended presentation and interaction

Blended block mode

Fully online

Activity focused face-to-face sessions blended with online resources.

For example, the flipped curriculum model combines:

  • short lecture podcasts, online resources, with
  • face-to-face tutorial/seminars for interaction and presentation of group work

Combination of:

  • intensive face-to-face sessions as one day or half days
  • weekly online tutorial/seminars for activities and interaction
  • online content and resources

Combination of:

  • short lecture podcasts, with online resources and learning activities
  • online tutorials (synchronous)
  • interaction via online collaboration, discussion forums and/or groupwork

[Source: Hannon, J., & Macken, C. 2014. Blended and Online Learning Toolkit]

Open Resource

LTU blended learning multi-campus models and examples

Exemplar

Exemplar: A flipped curriculum: Introduction to Animal & Agricultural Sciences, Dr Bert de Groef, ARG1AAS

References

Bonwell, C., & Eiison, J. (1991).  Active Learning Creating Exictemnet in the Classroom, ASHE-ERICHigher Education Report, 1.

Chickering, A.,  and Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7.

Prince, M. (2004).  Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research, Journal of Engineering Education, 93 (3), pp 223-231.

Stebleton, M., Jensen, M. and Peter, G.. (2010). Enhancing Student Engagement in a Multidisciplinary First-year Experience Course, Collage Teaching Methods & Styles Journal, 6 (1), pp. 1-6.

Terenzin, P., Cabrera, A., Colbeck, C., Parente, J. & Stefani, B. (2001).  Collaborative Learning vs. Lecture/Discussion: Students' Reported Learning Gains, Journal of Engineering Education, January (90) 1, pp 123-130.

Tinto, V. (1997).  Classrooms as Communities: Exploring the Educational Character of Student Experience, The Journal of Higher Education, 68(6), pp. 599-623.

Vyggotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.


Please note: Applications indicated by * are web applications that may involve a cost or licensing and the university may not be able to provide technical support in the use of these applications. Many however are simple to use and provide good online support and resources. Where you are considering using these applications you should consider:

  • What additional functionality does this application provide to University applications?
  • What alternative will be provided/developed?
  • What are the implications for accessibility?
  • Where are your students going to get technical support?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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