Call to Action: How to Promote Active Learning While Handling the Hard Stuff

Workshop Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Use tools and techniques to blend or enhance for active learning with an emphasis on selecting technologies aligned with pedagogical objectives. Confront common concerns.


Laurie B. Lyons is the Director of Instructional Technology and Design for the Health Sciences Programs at the George Washington University, which encompasses both on-campus and distance health science programs. She previously worked with an interdisciplinary group of faculty to convert a federally funded two-semester face-to-face training program to a blended format. Laurie has a Master's degree in Educational Technology Leadership from the George Washington University and is certified as an online facilitator for the Quality Matters Applying the Rubric Online Workshop.

Extended Abstract

Active learning promotes higher levels of learning and skill development than traditional lecture formats (Michael, 2006). Blended learning holds promise as an approach that effectively facilitates active learning in higher education (Ruckert, et al., 2014). To capitalize on this potential, we developed a structured process to help faculty in programs historically reliant on traditional face-to-face delivery to blend or enhance courses using pedagogically-driven active learning strategies. Our process has been developed through work with Physician Assistant (PA) and Physical Therapy (PT) courses at The George Washington University. These face-to-face programs are negotiating the challenges of increasing class sizes, less than ideal numbers of faculty, space constraints, ever increasing bodies of knowledge in programs for entry level professionals, and requirements from accrediting bodies. With this process we are seeking to help faculty enable learners to perform the higher order thinking that is required in their future clinical practice (aka "the real world"), while negotiating the challenges faced by their programs.

In this workshop we will guide participants through our clear and user friendly process for helping faculty blend or enhance a course to support active learning, emphasizing how to select technology that aligns with their learning objectives. We will provide examples from courses we have revised, some which were blended, reducing seat time, and others that were enhanced with asynchronous activities but did not reduce seat time. We will share a worksheet we developed that faculty can use for their own courses or that others can use when working with faculty to implement blended or enhanced courses to support active learning. We will also share tools to assist with choosing online tools to support the chosen active learning strategies in the blended or enhanced course session(s).

Participants will form small groups based on their role and needs. The small groups will work through our process for blending or enhancing a course session and selecting appropriate tools to use, while strategizing ways to overcome hard issues, including:

ïThe feeling that there is just too much content to cover to use active learning
ïConcerns about assessment when using active and collaborative teaching strategies
ïUsing online or asynchronous activities to enhance face-to-face courses when "we see each other all the time"
ïAssisting and encouraging others in blending or enhancing for active learning

Session Objectives:
ïDiscuss how blended and technology-enhanced active learning can lead to course designs that better emulate real-world situations for students.
ïApply tools for blending or enhancing a course session that are focused on pedagogical goals.
ïStrategize ways to overcome common obstacles to implementing blended or enhanced active learning strategies.