Active Learning in Online Classes

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What Does Active Learning Look Like in an Online Class?

Interactive Activity Instructions Consider this!
Click through the slideshow interactive below or read the slideshow's text transcript (located below the interactive) to experience an example of active learning in an online class, from the students' perspective.

If you would like to listen to a narration for each slide, click the audio button that appears on each slide.

Walking Through Active Learning in an Online Class Interactive Slideshow Transcript (text file)

Benefits of Implementing Active Learning in Your Class

  • By integrating active learning activities, students are provided the opportunity to practice 21st century workplace skills (Active Learning, 2018).
  • Research suggests that active learning “…[decreases] the achievement gap for underrepresented minorities and first generation college students, particularly in STEM fields…” (Active Learning).
  • Breaking lecture videos into chunked microlessons, followed by a learning activity helps students stay engaged with the material. Research indicates that when a video is longer than 9-12 minutes, students will watch less than half of it (Carmichael et al., 2018).

New to Active Learning and Want to Give it a Try? Advice for Getting Started!

Woman sitting at a laptop smiling for the camera

Because active learning encompasses many activities (an instructor’s imagination is the limit), and it is not considered a prescriptive process, some instructors may feel overwhelmed by the number of options available to them, as well by how to introduce the concept to their classes. To help “ease” into implementing active learning, Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching suggests:

  • "Start small, start early, and start with activities that pose low risk for both instructors and students.
  • Identify your learning goals, think about how you would identify whether students had reached them (that is, how you might structure assessment), and then choose an active learning approach that helps your students achieve those goals.
  • As you begin to incorporate active learning practices, it’s a good idea to explain to students why you’re doing so; talking to your students about their learning not only helps build a supportive classroom environment, but can also help them develop their metacognitive skills (and thus their ability to become independent learners)” (Brame).

Getting Started Resources

Active Learning Techniques

Tools Supporting Active Learning in Sakai


Page References

Active Learning. University of Leicester. (2018, May 15). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Active Learning. Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Brame, C. (n.d.). Active Learning. Retrieved from

Carmichael, M., Reid, A.-K., & Karpicke, J. (2018). Assessing the Impact of Educational Video on Student Engagement, Critical Thinking and Learning: The Current State of Play. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from

Slideshow References

Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. CTRL Faculty Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Gifkins, J. (2020, May 7). What is 'active learning' and why is it important? E-International Relations. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Michael, J. (2006). Where's the evidence that active learning works? Advances in Physiology Education, 30(4), 159–167.