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Benefits of Active Learning Environment and Innovative ways to Encourage it

Nowadays, with classrooms being shut down everywhere due to Coronavirus lockdown, the world has moved on to online teaching. Though online teaching has its own unique advantages, adjusting to this sudden pedagogical shift was no mean feat. A lot of research has gone into student psychology and learning behavior. It is important, now more than ever that teachers make use of the important developments that help in increasing student learning outcomes while taking an online class on a live teaching app. The new innovative educational tools & techniques make ample use of technology to support the traditional classroom strategies, such as active learning, student collaboration, encourage learning through experience, and direct instructions (class lectures).

The central objective of teaching is (and it should be so if not) to create a thorough understanding of the subject matter in the students’ minds. Now, mounting evidence through pedagogical research, indicates that it is almost impossible to create that understanding in students’ minds by simply telling them what they need to know. This is the reason why apart from direct instruction or lectures, active learning is the most widely used education strategy. Before moving on, it is important to define what exactly is an “active learning environment?” Active learning is a teaching approach that keeps student learning at its core. It is focused on how students learn rather than just what or how much. It aims to engage students in the study material by making use of Group activities, Problem-solving tasks, assignments, and other activities to further critical thinking about the subject matter. It encourages students to brainstorm rather than being passively spoon-fed the information from the teacher. Teachers should challenge their students intellectually and active learning promotes students’ participation in their own learning making it an intellectually stimulating and challenging activity.

There are numerous tangible benefits associated with an active learning environment. It helps to develop teamwork and collaborative mindset, teaches taking calculated risks which undoubtedly is an integral skill to have for employability and success at workplace in future, develops student engagement with the study material, requires pre-class preparation from students rather than just coming to class totally blank about the next topic, has shown to increase retention of study material, it makes technology like live teaching app and other innovations more powerful and effective, develops problem-solving skills in students and is more intellectually stimulating and exciting for everyone involved. Now that we are acutely aware of what active learning actually is and its numerous benefits, we enlist and explain some strategies helpful in implementing the principles in practice….

Make use of Case-Studies-

Case studies allow students to apply the taught concepts in real-life situations. It is a flexible exercise that can be incorporated across many learning disciplines. It can be as simplistic as asking a question to start a discussion among students, about how they would react to a particular situation or it can be thoroughly extensive. Case studies can be readily integrated into online teaching classes.

Brainstorming Sessions-

In brainstorming, students may be asked to generate different ideas on a particular topic or question while the teacher guides and supervises them and records their answers. A teacher should acknowledge all the ideas, not just the good ones because student motivation too, will independently affect his learning outcome and a little appreciation from the teacher goes a long way in boosting morale. Brainstorming can be adapted to any discipline across varying class sizes as well.

Group Discussions-

Group discussions can be held in an offline classroom or on a live teaching app. In this, students are distributed into different groups and asked to discuss a particular topic and sometimes to form a common opinion on the topic, under the supervision of the instructor. Group discussions are a great way not just for improving communication skills, but also in encouraging students to think critically and thinking on their feet.

Think Pair Share-

In this, students are given some time to think and write about a topic and then asked to confer with fellow students and compare their ideas before moving on to a full-class discussion.

Therefore, an active learning environment is essential for improving the student learning outcome and every teacher must put in efforts towards shifting to an active learning classroom setup.

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