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Principle 2: Does this activity make the learners more active?

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May 7, 2019

<< eLearning Principle 1: Support Learning

You might be familiar with the shorter version of this quote, “Tell me, and I forget, show me, and I’ll remember, involve me, and I will understand.” But I prefer this older version of it. We can learn from hearing, seeing and doing things, but the best learning takes place when learners are actively involved in the learning process.

I have a theory that the person who puts the most energy in a lesson is the one who learns the most (that is why teaching is such a great form of learning).

Ask yourself, who is putting the most energy into your lessons? If you walked into any of my classes a few years ago, you would have found, me jumping up and down in the front of the class, talking and writing a mile a minute, while the kids are sitting quietly behind their desks and maybe copying notes or giving an answer here and there. The ratio of energy used something like 9:1. Which leads me to the conclusion that I learned nine times as much as they did.

How do you encourage active learning?

There are lots of ways you can involve learners in the lesson; one way is to limit the times when you lecture the whole class. During a lecture, one person, you, are talking and 30 people are sitting quietly, taking notes at the most.  Another way is to take the focus away from the front of the class. The way your class is set up is a good indication of who is actively taking part in the lesson. Something as simple as having more than one whiteboard will encourage you to involve learners more.

The problem is that we are all pressed for time. And “talk-and-chalk” will transfer the most content in the shortest time span. And at least then you can say that you have covered it. But it is quantity over quality. Yes, you might have covered all the work, but you will find that you need to reteach that topic next year again. The basic premises of active learning is that you might spend more time on this subject now, but you will save time in the future.

What does technology have to do with Active Learning?

Personal devices are ideal to get learners more actively involved in the lesson. One of the problems I often experience when I try to get the students more involved is that it ends up being a handful of pupils while the rest are still just spectators. But if everybody has a device in their hand, there is no reason all of them can’t take part at the same time.

There are a number of models that of blending technology with traditional teaching to encourage active learning.

What is the Station Rotation model?

Station-Rotation model applied to a trig lesson


Plickers – get everybody involved with no technology

Desmos – see them work, while they work

Whenever I think about adding technology to my lessons or testing a new tool, the first question I ask myself is: “How will this make the learners more active?” If the answer is not YES, then I might still do it, but I know it is not transforming my classroom, it is just replacing an existing activity.

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