There are many different active learning methods. Some of these can be easily adapted for online and/or blended learning. But we can easily forget how wide the range of different active learning methods and opportunities is. This post introduces the spectrum of active learning methods and how it can be useful: a) by reminding us of the variety of different active learning methods available; b) reminding us of their varying complexity or simplicity; c) prompting us to consider how we might integrate a variety of active methods with online technologies.
The spectrum of active learning methods
Presenting active learning methods graphically along a spectrum is a useful idea. In this post we consider two versions of such a spectrum – firstly, because different versions are available, and none is yet definitive or necessarily complete.
Both versions present active learning methods along a spectrum ranging from simple and quickly implemented activities at the left-hand end, to more complex methods at the right-hand side. The more complex methods usually require more preparation time. But those more complex methods can often provide a richer, more experiential, active learning experience for students. Different specific active learning methods will be appropriate for different curriculum topics. And while Cheryl Yang insists that all active learning methods on the spectrum can be adapted to online learning environments, some may be more easily adaptable to online technologies than others.
The first is adapted from Rachel Watson and Kali Nicholas Moon of the University of Wyoming:
Figure 1. A spectrum of active learning techniques. Adapted from Watson (2021).
The second is adapted from Chris O’Neal and Tershia Pinder-Grover of the University of Michigan:
Figure 2. Active learning techniques. Adapted from O’Neal and Pinder-Grover (2016).
Some uses of the spectrum of active learning methods
Yang suggests that all of these active learning methods can be adapted to online or virtual learning environments.
The spectrum can be useful to online educators by: a) providing a concise reminder of the variety of different active learning methods available to us; b) reminding us of the varying demands and rewards of different active learning methods – ranging from the simple to the more complex; c) prompt us to consider how we might integrate some of these approaches into our online teaching and learning.
Some active learning methods may be more easily adapted to online or virtual teaching than others. For instance, an example of online Jigsaw Method activity is explained in Flipped Jigsaw approach to student collaboration – DLaT Hub (dmu.ac.uk).
In future blog posts, we will explore other active learning methods to see how they might also be adapted for online learning environments.
References and further reading
- Florida Gulf Coast University. (2020). Active learning: creating excitement online. Instructional Design Team. 17 February. Available at: https://www.fgcu.edu/digitallearning/digital-learning-blog/2020-02-active-learning-online
- Hasnine, Mohammad Nehal, Mahmoud Mohamed Hussien Ahmed, and Hiroshi Ueda. (2020). Towards Post-Pandemic Active Learning Design by connecting Strategies with Technologies. In World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning, pp. 101-104. Available at: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/218896/paper_218896.pdf
- O’Neal, Chris and Pinder-Grover, Tershia. (2016). How can you incorporate active learning into your classroom? University of Michigan. Available at: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/sites/default/files/Active_Learning_Continuum_CRLT.pdf
- Watson, Rachel. (2021). Active Learning Spectrum. University of Wyoming. Available online at: http://www.uwyo.edu/science-initiative/lamp/al_spectrum.html
- Yang, Cheryl. (2021). Active learning techniques to improve learning engagement. Accelerate Learning Community. University of Utah. Available online at: https://accelerate.uofuhealth.utah.edu/leadership/active-learning-techniques-to-improve-learner-engagement