Using Active Learning Methods for Innovation in the eLearning/Online Classrooms

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will discuss using active learning strategies for innovation in online learning that help faculty engage learners. These activities are based on ideas about how people learn and engage regardless of content discipline. Multiple strategies will be discussed in a very active conference session, be prepared not to sit for this session.


Heidi Held, D.Ed., is an Instructional Designer here in eLDIG in the Smeal College of Business s at The Pennsylvania State University. She completed her D.Ed. in Administration and Leadership - Higher Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She received her M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Heidi also teaches part-time for Purdue University. Heidi enjoys designing courses, creating video shorts, and working on assessments. Heidi's research interests include (1) benchmarking needs of adult students obtaining a Bachelor's degree; (2) student civic engagement; and, (3) understanding the use and effect of prior learning assessment. Heidi has worked for the Pennsylvania State University for over 14 years in program design, development, and delivery in a variety of capacities. When Heidi is not working at Smeal, she is painting, taking care of her family, or writing both fiction and non-fiction.
Higher Ed Instructional Designer. Former K-12 Teacher & Tech Coordinator and Community Support Mgr.

Extended Abstract

Relevance to the Community

Think about the last time you learned something. What was the topic? How did you learn it? What motivated you to engage in the learning and stay engaged? What got you thinking critically about the knowledge you were seeking? What kind of innovation had you wished had been applied to the topic? What new tool would have been fun?

This session will discuss active learning strategies in online learning that help faculty engage learners, and can lead to innovation in the classroom. Active learning is a teaching method that supports learning. The method uses techniques and activities that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation that guide students towards achieving learning objectives. These techniques and activities are based on ideas about how people learn and engage regardless of content discipline.

Active learning is not only an effective method in the traditional learning environment, but also, it is effective in an online environment. Instructors/designers must continue to design activities that support learning objectives, but structure them to work online, outside of the traditional classroom environment where active learning techniques are heavily dependent upon face-to-face interaction.

Level of Participation

This session will provide participants the opportunity to be fully engaged by:

  • Engaging in Dot Voting: A technique for public semi-anonymous voting where participants are given identical sets of one or more colored paper dots which they stick onto paper voting sheets to indicate preferences or prior knowledge.

  • Using kinesthetic methods to  join in participatory voting, indicate interest and understanding

  • Working through 25 strategy stations, and being planful for the implementation of selected strategies in their own work upon returning from the conference.

Session Goals

In this session, multiple strategies will be discussed and applied in a very active conference session, be prepared not to sit for this session. Strategies will be covered in a modified jigsaw style interactive session during the demonstration. The lab portion will include participants working together to apply methods with new tools to create an innovative learning experience for students.  At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able:

  1. Recall at least 3 active learning strategies that can be used in online courses

  2. Construct ways to apply these methods for innovation

  3. Interpret the use of 2 of these strategies into their own experiences or courses

  4. Construct ways to use at least 1 new strategy in their course or instructional design.