Looking at That Screen: How to Make it Active!

Submitted by Ila Langner on Sat, 05/23/2020 - 10:00 PM
Two women in the foreground smiling as one types at a computer.  Other participants in the background in small groups.

I attended a webinar called "Active Learning and Learning Strategy", which was presented by San Jose Public Library’s Training Specialist, Nick Hedrick.  According to Nick, active learning is “a learner-centered system that involves absorbing new information through various modalities and then doing something with it.”  When I think of active learning, I think about the level of control that the learner has in their learning.  Active learners have more control of their learning than passive learners, which is really the best option!

Passive Learning VERSUS Active Learning

In active learning, learners are central and are malleable like clay.  In passive learning, learners are subject to the teacher's preferences and are treated like a sponge.

I think about the classes that were most useful to me and they always shared the same characteristic:  they were memorable.  According to Nick, you will see how much a learner remembers based upon the way they learned:

  • Lecture (passive):  5%
  • Reading without note-taking or discussion (passive):  10%
  • Audiovisual (passive):  20%
  • Demonstration by teacher (passive):  30%
  • Discussion (active):  50%
  • Practice by doing (active):  75%
  • Teaching others (active):  90%

Clearly, the best way to learn new material is to learn in an active way!  As you may have realized in this blog, I am utilizing the learning method called “teaching others.”

Active Learning Strategy

Nick shared four steps in active learning, but I believe there are five (including understanding the background):

  1. Understand the background and problem or issue that needs to be resolved.
  2. Generate a spark:  create a connection from previous experience to the new material.
  3. Environment of exploration:  increase knowledge, search resources, listen to pros, examine similar materials, discuss with peers, and wade in a safe environment.
  4. Do:  practice using what you have learned, share with others, self-reflect, receive feedback, and set goals
  5. Teach others:  presents the information to others, creates a correlation with other experiences, and finds ways to share information with others in different formats.

These steps are easy to relate to in a physical setting.  However, I realized that these steps must now be adapted for distance learning environments.  Are there opportunities for active learning in a distance learning environment?  The answer is yes!

Ways to Make Active Learning Work in a Distance Learning Environment:

  1. Background:  same as in a physical learning environment
  2. Generate a Spark:  watch how to videos, speak to others in a group setting through group meeting apps
  3. Environment of Exploration:  go to San Jose Public Library’s eResources for information to help teachers and students in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education.  eResources are available for adults who have specific learning purposes like education and personal growth, for example.  eResources also provide extracurricular learning about computers, hobbies, and DIY projects.  Learn a subject through an online learning circle.
  4. Do:  practice what you have learned in the eResources mentioned above.
  5. Teach others:  you can teach others through blogging, vlogging, and starting your own learning circle!


Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction

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