Practical Tools: Active Learning Strategies to Improve Online Learner Engagement and Retention

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Active learning as a teaching method has become popular. This workshop will teach how to craft highly organized dynamic instruction in order to capture and hold the learners' attention using four innovative practical tools (Yammer, Kahoot, Nearpod, and Zoom) that can be employed in various online or blended course environments. 


Kadriye O. Lewis, EdD, is the Director of Evaluation and Program Development in the Department of Graduate Medical Education at Children's Mercy Hospital CMH). She is also Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine (UMKC SOM). Prior to coming to Children’s Mercy, Dr. Lewis worked for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) for more than 13 years. She played a major role in the development of the Online Master's Degree in Education Program for Healthcare Professionals. This program has developed a national and international reputation for excellence and played an important role in training future leaders in medical education. Dr. Lewis served as an education consultant to the medical center's faculty development program. She applied her educational background and academic skills to health literacy by establishing a Health Literacy Committee at CCHMC in 2007 and chaired this committee successfully for three years. Along with her many accomplishments in the area of scholarly activities, she also established the e-Learning SIG in Medical Education for the Academic Pediatrics Association (APA) in 2008 and served this group as the chair person for six years. Dr. Lewis is active in medical education research and her scholarly interests include performance-based assessment, the construction of new assessment tools as well as the improvement and validation of existing tools and methods. She also has a particular interest in instructional design and implementation of innovative technologies for curriculum delivery at many levels in healthcare education due to her extensive experience in e-learning and web-based technologies. Currently, she is involved in an NIH funded grant project on genome, various curriculum development projects for the graduate medical education programs at CMH and teaches an online/blended course in the Master of Health Professions Education program at UMKC SOM ( Dr. Lewis presents extensively at many professional meetings and conferences, and has been an invited speaker at many national and international universities.

Extended Abstract

Upon successful completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe different types of active learning activities and why it matters for online teaching and learning
  2. List techniques, strategies, and practical online tools (Yammer, Kahoot, Nearpod, Zoom) for incorporating active learning into online or blended courses
  3. Examine innovative teaching strategies to discuss methods, aims, pedagogical properties, the role of the learners and facilitators, including strengths and possible challenges of various learning situations
  4. Outline higher-order thinking strategies to increase learner engagement in order to improve retention

Active learning is a teaching method that focuses the responsibility of learning on the students with the presented course content to enhance their understanding of the topic. The method uses techniques such online discussions, group tasks, concept mapping, role playing, content related games, problem solving, and other learning activities that promote higher level thinking skills (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) that guide students towards achieving learning objectives. Therefore, active learning has received significant attention among online instructors to maximize learners’ intellectual engagement and motivation during the learning process. However, most online instructors are still struggling to deliver complex materials or content using active learning approaches. In contrast the new generation of learners (millennials and Gen Z) expect more innovative teaching and learning models to gain a deeper understanding of content materials. The good news is that the rapid expansion of emerging technologies has opened the door to many new compelling instructional approaches such as gamification, interactive videos, branching scenarios, storytelling, podcasts, simulations, 3-D immersive experiences, m-learning, and virtual reality. These teaching approaches offer a fun and fresh experience for learners and educators alike. At the same time, the core elements of each medium have the potential to enhance higher order cognitive skills while various scaffolding activities are provided.

Effectiveness of teaching can be optimized by adapting new pedagogies that foster the development of deep learning and establishing new measures of assessing learning and competencies across all content areas. To connect with the new generation of learners, online teachers must spend time developing their teaching strategy and use more creative, engaging and flexible learner-centered teaching methods rather than delivering static instructor-centered online courses. This interactive workshop will teach how to craft highly organized dynamic instruction in order to capture and hold the learners' attention using the following innovative practical teaching tools that can be employed in various online or blended course environments. 


  1. Yammer (social learning and collaboration tool)
  2. Kahoot (game-based learning)
  3. Nearpod (interactive classroom tool/student engagement platform)
  4. Zoom (cloud meetings)


Each teaching tool with a sample learning unit will be followed by a small group breakout session detailing how to implement these models of teaching. Additionally, there will be discussion on challenges and barriers for successful implementation of innovative teaching methods in online programs. Participants will be able to put the skills they learned during the workshop into practice when they go back to their institution.


Workshop Agenda (45 Minutes)





Step 1(5 minutes): Welcome/Introductions and Agenda
Step 2 (15 minutes): Overview of Active Learning

  • What is active learning?
  • Types of active learning
  • Practical tools for active teaching and learning (Yammer, Kahoot, Nearpod, Zoom)

Step 3 (20 minutes): Kahoot Breakout Session
The following questions will guide the discussion in each small group.

  1. What are the pedagogical characteristics of this innovating teaching tool?
  2. How to promote higher-order thinking strategies with this teaching tool?
  3. Can this teaching tool be utilized in your teaching situations? If not, what are the most pressing issues that may hinder use of this teaching technique?
  4. What is the next step or the key takeaways for this active teaching and learning method?

Step 4 (5 minutes): Wrap up

  • Reflective Summary & Closing Remarks