How to do active learning, in-person and remote

'Students don't have to be actively doing to be actively participating and actively learning'
By: | January 28, 2021
Keys to active learning include allowing students to explore the content, ask questions and connect the lesson to theirs passions and interests.Keys to active learning include allowing students to explore the content, ask questions and connect the lesson to theirs passions and interests.

Just because students aren’t attending class in-person, that doesn’t mean they can’t participate in active learning.

With the help of technology, remote students can dive into lessons that are relevant to their lives, Kris Astle, a SMART Technologies education strategist, said in her Future of Education Technology Conference® presentation Thursday.

“Students don’t have to be actively doing to be actively participating and actively learning,” Astle said. “Even when they’re in a remote and hybrid environment it is more than possible for our students to learn actively and be engaged.”

Keys to active learning include allowing students to explore the content, ask questions and connect the lesson to theirs passions and interests.


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These approaches in turn help students develop critical thinking skills and, when they’re grouped into teams or breakout sessions, improve their ability to collaborate and focus on other global competencies, Astle said.

Astle showed an example of an active learning lab using the Smart Learning Suite. In the lesson on the different states of water, teachers would first survey students on their prior knowledge of the subjects.

Students can “shout out” their ideas, which appear on screen and can be categorized by the teacher.

A teacher can then do some “direct teaching” by, for example, listing and defining key terms.

The teacher can then provide pre-recorded instructions for a lab activity that pairs of students can do at home. Students can use the Learning Suite to share ideas and compare their results.

Back in class, the teacher can have students post one thing they learn and one thing that surprised them about the lab before reviewing their work and providing feedback.

Feedback, provided with frequency and immediacy, is a crucial element of online learning, Astle said.

Teachers must also provide clearing instructions and communicate goals while also allow students to personalize how they interact with the content, she added.


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