• Academic Technology

What Is Active Learning And Why Does It Work?

Instructors continue to find new ways to apply technology to reshape and advance traditional learning models — inspiring innovation in nearly every classroom.

Today, many of the latest pedagogical advances aim to maximize the effectiveness of time in the classroom, freeing instructors from “teaching to the middle” and enabling more time to be spent supporting students’ individual needs and opportunities.

The majority of these new advances utilize technology to support a combination of traditional teaching strategies, including active learning, collaborative projects, experiential learning, and traditional direct instruction (which includes lecture and demonstrations).

Next to direct instruction, active learning has been perhaps the most common strategy employed in the classroom. But as with many of today’s evolving practices, exactly what is or isn’t an “active learning” activity today isn’t always clear. So let’s break it down.


What Is Active Learning?

Active learning is an instructional approach that engages students in the material they are learning through problem-solving activities, writing assignments, group discussion, reflection activities, and any other task that promotes critical thinking about the subject.

Active learning requires that students do something that develops their skills, as opposed to passive learning where information is merely transmitted to students.


The Benefits of Active Learning — Why It Works

When it comes to learning a new concept or skill, instruction is essential but practice makes perfect. Traditionally, lectures teach students new concepts and active learning helps students master them.

Active learning works because it engages students in the learning process. More specifically, active learning in the classroom has distinct advantages:

  • Teachers and students get more one-on-one interaction — students receive frequent and immediate feedback from instructors during active learning activities
  • Students learn through collaboration and interaction with other students, engaging more deeply with the course content and building invaluable social skills
  • Teaching is more inclusive — students with different learning styles get a personalized experience


Related Reading: 8 Active Learning Examples In Higher Education


Benefits of Active Learning

More Time For Active Learning With The Help Of Video Technology

Time has always been a major factor in limiting the amount of active learning educators could integrate into their courses — the time required to adequately cover the day’s lesson face-to-face often nearly (if not entirely) monopolized classroom teaching time.

New and increasingly flexible active learning technologies, like lecture capture software, now enable teachers to record lectures and flip traditional teaching methods upside down with ease. Instead of lecturing in class and assigning learning-by-doing tasks for homework, teachers can now flip the classroom and free up valuable in-class time for other hands-on teaching strategies. Perhaps as no surprise, active learning has become more prevalent in today’s classrooms as a result.

Looking to the future, there are even more opportunities for instructors to insert active learning into the student learning experience. Modern LMS and Video CMS platforms are creating new tools to support active learning anywhere. Even video — a traditionally passive medium — has been opened up, enabling instructors to include interactive quizzes and hold 1:1 or class-wide discussions directly inside the video player.

Tools like these enable today’s instructors to more intelligently craft their classroom experiences, time-shifting the traditional demands of information delivery and opening more time for individual guidance.

Related Reading: Making More Time For Active Learning In The Classroom


Request a Demo Integrating Active Learning Into Your Courses

While there are many blended learning models, the flipped classroom has emerged as one of the leading teaching strategies for boosting active learning in the classroom. Get started with flipping your class to make time for more active learning — try using Panopto to record your on-demand course videos.

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