One of the biggest pedagogical shifts in moving in-person classes to remote learning involves modifying active learning activities. Online courses which are designed from the ground up without face-to-face meetings have many ways to engage students (Forbes, 2020). The challenge is to make our remote teaching also be more active.
Facilitating active learning assumes greater importance in remote and hybrid/blended classes where students do not have the opportunity to engage in face-to-face interactions. Yes, teaching presence is of great importance in these modalities; the teacher has to show up, and communicate frequently and effectively with students (Darby, 2019). However, one-way communication from instructor to students does not promote active learning. It clearly does not foster student engagement, and the need to create a sense of community. If you have students form groups in face-to-face classes, perhaps to critique each other’s responses to discussion questions, what does this translate to in remote teaching? How do you get students to work more with each other?
The fact is, students learn better when they learn from each other (Martin & Bolliger, 2018). The question then becomes, Can active learning as exemplified by learner-to-learner interaction in the form of group activities thrive in the virtual learning environment? Yes, it can.
*In this infographic, I present four strategies that instructors can use to engage students in group activities in remote and hybrid/blended classes. The strategies are enabled by digital technology, and can be easily implemented during strategic breaks in lectures.
Darby, F. (2019). How to be a better online teacher. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/advice-online-teaching
Forbes, L. K. (2020). Fostering fun: Engaging students with asynchronous online learning. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/fostering-fun-engaging-students-with-asynchronous-online-learning/
Martin, F. & Bolliger, D. U. (2018). Engagement matters: Student perceptions on the importance of engagement strategies in the online learning environment. Online Learning Journal, 22(1), 205-222.
*Thanks to Cub Kahn and Demian Hommel for their contributions to the infographic.
Funmi Amobi is an Instructional Consultant and College Liaison in Oregon State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Funmi provides consultations to faculty in individual and small group settings to support teaching excellence and student success.