Active Learning Strategies for Your Online Classes

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

This sesson describes how four active learning strategies can be used in the online context to engage learners.  The strategies are Class Talk, Writing to Learn, Think-Pair-Share and Literacy Groups.  Through these techniques learners use higher order thinking skills and interactions to dynamically construct their knowledge.


Dr. Julia Frink is an Assistant Professor of Accounting and teaches fully online for the Connect campus, which is the fully accredited virtual campus of the Tarrant County College District in Dallas/Fort Worth. Her past work experience includes work as an instructional designer where she mentored faculty in online course design at a four-year university within the Texas A&M University system. During that time she earned several nationally recognized certifications in online course design and delivery. Her certifications include those from Quality Matters, Online Learning Consortium and Penn State. Additionally, she taught online for various four year universities in Texas.

Extended Abstract

Active learning strategies center around the learner.  They are based upon constructivist theory, which states learners are co-constructors of the knowledge through interactions with each other and use of environmental stimuli.  The idea of learning being an active process is not new.  In his book, Democracy of Education (1916), John Dewey wrote about learning involving doing.  Educational psychologist Lev Vygotsky espoused the value of collaborative exploration which is a foundation of modern day active learning.

In the 1990s active learning began to receive more attention in the higher education context.  The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and ERIC Clearinghouse collaborated to publish the book, Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom.  The focus was on developing learners' skills to construct their knowledge by doing something, such as writing or dicussing.

Group Interaction:

Two activities

1. Think-Pair-Share activity (with music) where group will be asked to walk around the room while music is playing.  When the music stops the group members will chose one of the four strategies to share an example of with someone next to them. (5 minutes)

2. As a whole the group will be asked what active learning strategies they are using currently? (5 minutes)