Technology Supported Learning & Retention/3. Active/Engaged Learning

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Bus/CS Project - Technology to Support Student Learning & Retention (TSSLR) 2007

3. Active/Engaged Learning

Ideally, all students are active and engaged learners most of the time. However, the reality is that instructors must work to provide the environment that motivates students to participate in their learning.

Students are comfortable with technology in many forms. Enhancing instruction to tap into the media literacy of students is not difficult, as we shall see.

Some of the strategies for promoting Active/Engaged Learning include project based learning, and educational games.

Learning outcomes

  • review strategies for including active and engaged learning in instruction
  • discuss problem-based learning in higher education
  • create an activity that requires new approach to instruction of curriculum content and add activity to own course
  • discuss assessing student performance

Introduction[edit | edit source]

We have heard it before.

Make students active participants in learning. Students learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, solving. Passivity dampens students' motivation and curiosity. Pose questions. Don't tell students something when you can ask them. Encourage students to suggest approaches to a problem or to guess the results of an experiment. Use small group work.

from Motivating Students

All these suggestions are easily enhanced with technology.

  • Good questions can prompt analysis, critical thinking, research and problem-solving.
  • Discussion forums provide a particularly rich learning environment as students must read and write to participate. Students are not limited by the class time to prepare their responses. Many more voices can be heard in the class.
  • Assignments and quizzes require direct interaction with the course materials and provide engagement.
  • Collaborative writing, peer review and other forums of active engagement can be facilitated with technology.
Students say...[edit | edit source]
  • Don't bore me. If you are going to stand up and lecture me from your yellowing notes, put it on a disk, and I will take it home and read it on my time. Use an electronic forum or presentation- music, video, computer-based tutorials, visual peripherals - not just lecture.
  • Interaction is an important part in online classes. The previous online courses I took barely involved any discussions and thus I could not learn much from those classes. I only learnt from the notes and texts. The classes were so boring.

Learning Support[edit | edit source]

When we think of active, engaged learning, with usually thing of students actively doing something, directing their own learning.

Creating and Preparing Activities[edit | edit source]

Developing and refining online materials may necessitate populating the course during a live course session. Fortunately, the "hide" feature enables you to work on developing activities. For sections or individual activities like discussions, visibility options provide "privacy" for behind the scene work to set up anything and hide it until you are ready for students to see it.

Another use of hidden resources - Prepare standard wording for feedback, warnings to students, notes to self, etc., and save them as permanently hidden resources. These resources are part of the course and will automatically be included in subsequent semesters' live courses.

Privacy and Personal Information[edit | edit source]

Students need to learn about Privacy and Personal Information as they apply to Computers and Society - from the notes, readings and assignments. Are they aware of computers around them and how computers affecting society? Although access to information within the course management system class is limited to enrolled students, students need to understand that sharing personal information needs to be considered carefully.

Asking students to post information and work outside the course management system is generally discouraged for privacy reasons.

Images for Visual Interest[edit | edit source]

Adding visual components to your course can convey strong messages and attract students' interest. Images can be placed in the main course page, in resource pages. Images can be used in quizzes as prompts.

There are many sources of images and video media that can be added to classes without charge. See the Resources section for information.

Teaching and Learning[edit | edit source]

Managing learning via technology requires some additional tools and techniques.

Quizzes[edit | edit source]

How many times should students be permitted to submit a quiz? Is there value in instant feedback? Are quizzes learning opportunities? There are many good ways to use quiz technology to enhance instruction.

  • some forms of quiz questions can be automatically graded - they can provide instant feedback to students. The correct / incorrect response reply function can reinforce of answers and provide correction, clarification or further information as students work through the quiz questions. Students are usually highly motivated to learn in a graded activity.
  • quizzes can be set to permit allow students to retake a quiz
  • the highest score will count
  • it is important to learn the material. If you need more than one attempt, that is ok.
  • learn something each time you review the material for retaking the quiz.

The Quiz function allows students to save answers to individual questions, and submit the quiz for grading as a separate step. Periodically, students will answer all the questions but not "submit" the quiz for grading. The quiz remains in "open" status and is not graded.

Questions[edit | edit source]

Like most course management systems, Catalyst / Moodle separates the Questions function form the Quizzes. You can create questions independently of a quiz. This way, you can assemble a quiz from a pool of questions. The same question can be used in self-study quizzes, chapter reviews and final exams. Questions can be selected at random from a group of questions to ensure that each student receives a unique quiz - just one of many features provided to reduce academic dishonesty.

Graded Assignments[edit | edit source]

Assignments allow the teacher to specify a task that requires students to prepare digital content (any format) and submit it. Typical assignments include essays, projects, reports, presentations and web pages.

Depending on the type of assignment, grading feedback can be provided as

  • points
  • letter grade
  • satisfactory/unsatisfactory
  • separate note from the instructor, only visible to the student
  • mark-up - instructor adds directly to the student submission

Model behavior[edit | edit source]

Many students understand requirements best if they see an appropriate model. Often, the students who post first to a discussion are good, outgoing, confident students and their postings provide a good model for other students to follow. Requiring students to post their assignment answers in a discussion forum helps weaker students understand how to do the work and prepare their own submission. This works well for weekly research questions, and issue analysis discussions.

Learn more...[edit | edit source]

  • 3. Active/Engaged Learning :: Activities