Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Facilitating active learning in the classroom, part of Teaching with Technology.
- In another movie in this chapter, we reviewed ideas for using technology for small group activities in the classroom. There are other ways to use technology for active learning exercises in your classroom, of course. To keep it manageable, I'll give you some general ideas as well as some specific examples you can use in your class right away. Active learning in the classroom can be quicker involve, simple or complex. At one end of the spectrum you can use an activity or two five to 10 minutes max to break up a long lecture. Near the middle of the spectrum you can alternate between mini-lectures and activities around 20 to 30 minutes long.
At the other end of the spectrum, you might have a flipped classroom environment where students have reviewed content before arriving and then engage in activities for most of the class period. That might be 45 minutes or more, depending on how much time there is. In all cases, the goal is to use your time with the students differently, balancing their first exposure to new concepts with activities designed to help them make sense of those concepts. When we can consider how to use technology to facilitate those activities, we have to look at how many students will actually have technology in the classroom.
Reality dictates that not every classroom has a laptop or iPad for every student. Similarly, even in today's highly technical world, it's not fair to expect every student in K 12 or higher education classrooms to have a smartphone or mobile device. If you want to make technology a regular part of your active learning strategy, and all students should have it, then consider requiring students buy or rent clickers or get clicker apps for their own devices. Be sure to use the clickers regularly for active learning exercises, since students get upset when they're required to pay for a device they only use for attendance.
Now let's look at an active learning exercise that takes under five minutes to conduct. One common active learning exercise is called Think-Pair-Share. In this short activity, students summarize or apply what they've learned, brainstorm ideas or questions, or recall prior learning. First comes Think. Ask students to reflect for a minute or two about a question you ask. This works well for stem topics too. Ask them to solve an equation you show at the front of the room. Stick to the time limit, no more than two minutes, and give a warning when time is almost up.
Next comes Pair. As students to turn to a neighbor and share their answer. They can discuss to validate their common answer or determine why they're different. Again, keep this under two minutes. Last comes Share. With no technology, you can ask some of the pairs to share brief summaries of their ideas. If you take this same exercise and add technology, such as Twitter, then you have Think-Pair-Tweet. With Twitter, be sure to create and display short hashtags, such as your class name and the main topic or keywords from the question so you can display the responses.
For example, #HIST120, #Reconstruction. If you use clickers, then you have Think-Pair-Click. Since everyone has technology with clickers, you can take collaborative learning a step further. Ask students to submit a response after they think. We can call it Think-Click-Pair-Click. Most of the time a higher percentage of students get the answer correct after they discuss their first responses in pairs. When you first start incorporating active learning exercises, keep in mind that some students may not have much experience with it.
Be sure to provide upfront the goals for each exercise, describe how it will go, and share any guidelines that will help students. Before reviewing the next movie, take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself. How do you want to organize your class meetings to include more active learning exercises? What percentage of your students do bring their own devices to class? What percentage is high enough for the activities you want to conduct? And how would you use a micro-activity like Think-Pair-Tweet or Think-Pair-Click to help students apply what they've learned?
Author Kevin Kelly explains how learning outcomes can be adapted to support technology in the classroom, and guides educators through selecting the appropriate technology for their activity, module, or class. Then he shows how to apply technology in three key areas: finding, creating, and sharing content with students; facilitating classroom activities; and assessing learning inside the classroom or online.
- Including technology in your learning outcomes
- Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles
- Finding and creating content and instructional materials
- Enhancing lectures and presentations with technology
- Getting students involved
- Facilitating in-class activities
- Assessing learning
- Teaching effectively online