Active Learning Strategies to Engage Students in Online Classes

Posted by Rebecca Poulsen on Jan 21, 2021 4:23:50 PM
Rebecca Poulsen

What is Active Learning?

student participating in active learning

Active learning happens when students participate in comprehending the information given to them. On the flip side, passive learning is when students don’t participate and simply just listen without any inclination to absorb any of the information taught to them.

Unfortunately, with online learning, the latter is happening more often. It’s easy for students to turn off their cameras or mute themselves in an online class setting.

The unfortunate thing about passive learning is that it is nowhere near as effective as active learning. Studies have shown that students learn more when they are actively learning in a classroom setting. When students are passively learning, they can easily sit in their chairs and barely pay attention to what’s going on around them. In contrast, active learning allows students to better comprehend the material being taught and remember what they learned for more extended periods. Active learning engages parts of the brain that helps with memory and intaking new information. 

Here’s what active learning looks like from students: 

  • Participation
  • Engaging in discussion
  • Leading discussions
  • Asking questions 

Here’s what active learning looks like from a teacher:

  • Leading invigorating discussions around class topics
  • Bringing in real-world and relevant examples to the classroomTeacher using active learning strategies
  • Engaging students in activities that include more than just talking
  • Showing students a video and pausing periodically to discuss the topic
  • Creating projects that aren’t busy work and provide real-world value for students

Active Learning Strategies

It’s easier said than done to help students actively participate in class. So how does one do it exactly? It certainly is a skill and takes a bit more effort than just showing lecture slides, but the result is so worth the time.

Active learning strategies look like:

  • Asking open-ended questions (don’t ask simple yes or no questions)
  • Don’t ask questions that fish for a specific answer (students will pick up on it and be too shy to answer because they fear getting it wrong or the answer seems so obvious they don’t feel the need to speak up)
  • Create invigorating discussions (have students read case studies before class and come prepared to discuss them)
  • Set guidelines for how discussions should go (being respectful of other students' opinions, knowing how to argue a point, learning how to disagree civilly, being open to new ideas, etc.)

Providing resources to encourage active learning

woman in gray dress resting her hands on white table

If students go home and begin doing their homework but have no resources to help them, they likely won’t get very far in understanding the concept if they are struggling. This leads to them procrastinating homework, turning in assignments late, and falling behind in school.

Providing students with extra resources at home will help them comprehend the topics taught in class, allowing them to feel more confident in participating in class discussions.

PhotoStudy is an excellent at-home resource for students. This platform offers 24/7 online tutoring, so students can use it anytime that works with their schedules, whether in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Try a demo with PhotoStudy and see how it can benefit TRiO students. 


What works for you?

Have you used active learning strategies in your classroom? Let us know in the comment section below what has worked for you and your students.

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