Leveraging Active Learning to Enhance Online or Blended Learning Environments

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Immersing students in active learning increases student engagement, which in turn yields higher learning outcomes and greater retention. Determining how to incorporate online learning strategies in an online environment can be challenging. This lab will equip attendees with active learning strategies to implement in an online or blended environment.


Ashley is an Instructional Designer at the University of Central Florida, Center for Distributed Learning. Prior to joining the CDL team, Ashley taught in the K-12 environment where she developed her skill set to advance and apply effective teaching practices. Her current research interests include professional development for teaching online, application of emerging technologies, and the use of OER materials.
Alyssa has been a Knight since 2008 when she started her undergraduate degree at UCF. Upon graduating with her BS in psychology, she became a middle school language arts teacher, which continued to grow her love for education. While teaching, she realized her passion for online learning, which prompted her to pursue her MA in Instructional Design and Technology at UCF with a focus on eLearning. Before completing her MA, she interned with the Center for Distributed Learning during the summer of 2017 and was subsequently offered a position as an instructional designer. Her research interests include quality in online courses, active learning, online engagement, and Faculty/ID collaboration. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her friends and family at Disney, traveling, and reading.
Jessica Tojo is an Instructional Designer at the University of Central Florida’s Center for Distributed Learning (CDL). Jessica earned a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Florida in 2007 and taught elementary school for eight years. Her interest to enhance learning through the integration of technology led her to pursue an M.A. in Educational Technology which she received from UCF in 2011. Her research interests include personalized adaptive learning, the use of OER materials, and accessibility.

Extended Abstract

This lab is intended for anyone interested in transforming their online and/or blended learning environments with the use of active learning. This session will provide the opportunity for participants to experience active learning from a student’s perspective, discuss and share how active learning can be integrated, and develop an action plan to take away.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this Innovation Lab, participants will be able to:

  • Describe their institutional context for the use of active learning in online and/or blended environment

  • Articulate how the new active learning strategies presented could enhance online or blended learning courses at their institution

  • Describe no less than the five active learning strategies demonstrated within the presentation segment of the lab

  • Collaborate with faculty to include active learning strategies within the online or blended learning environment to enhance student engagement and improve retention


At the completion of this Innovation Lab, participants are expected to:

  • Participate in a discussion that provides a foundation of active learning and examples implemented at their institution,

  • Join in an engaging demonstration of no less than five active learning strategies perfect for an online or blended learning environment,

  • Create an action plan detailing how to propose these strategies to faculty and/or implement these strategies into their own courses.


  • (5 min)  A facilitated, quick-start conversation to kick off the lab session

  • (20 min) A presentation with use of active learning strategies

  • (20 min) Participants process, discuss, and create an action plan detailing strategies of active learning to implement at their institution

Discussion (5 minutes):

Lab leaders will introduce the session with a set a Poll Everywhere questions to first situate participants’ thinking. These questions provide participants and lab leaders with a basic understanding of previous knowledge and use of active learning in online and blended learning environments. In groups, participants will have a brief opportunity to discuss their experience with active learning and the challenges they face with implementation.

Demonstration (20 minutes):

In this presentation, participants will engage in an active learning experience. Throughout this lab, participants will reflect on their group interactions and identify active learning strategies that correlate to the needs of their institution. Lab leaders will model active learning strategies to present how various approaches could be executed within a face to face segment of a blended learning experience. In addition, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of active learning through the use of shared research findings.

In an effort to allow participants to leave the session with an applicable understanding of new active learning strategies, lab leaders will present the following approaches with supporting artifacts that can be integrated within an online and/or blended learning environment.

  • Role play

  • Adaptive Learning

  • Interactive online games

  • Online debates

  • Vlogging

Innovation (20 minutes):

Participants process new ideas, discuss options within groups, and create an action plan detailing strategies of active learning to implement at their institution. The debrief & wrap up of the innovation lab will highlight key findings and connect activities to objectives and allow for meaningful reflection on participant experiences.


The innovation lab will provide a roadmap for participants to implement active learning strategies to share with faculty at their institution or integrate into their own online or blended learning environments. Participants will walk away with experiences of active learning from a student’s perspective and an action plan of innovative active learning strategies to enhance student engagement and improve retention