Study skills for online learners

Active learning techniques

The first step on the path to success is ‘Active Learning’ which will help you to reinforce the information you have studied during your course.

Active learning is where the learner takes an active part in the learning process rather than just passively participating in the lesson. Active learning can involve one or more of the following activities, reading, writing, discussing, taking part in an evaluation, or analysis, all of which reinforce the learning process. ‘Active Learning’ is, in short, anything that you can do, other than merely passively reading the materials on “auto pilot”. Active learning is aimed at enhancing your retention of material presented in the courses.

Research suggests that the use of active learning techniques has a very positive impact on your learning skills. A significant number of individuals have learning styles best served by educational techniques other than lecturing and many students prefer strategies that promote active learning rather than the traditional classroom approach.

All learning involves experience. Experience can be created by interpreting an event that you have seen or taken part in. The event may be a lecture or reading a book etc. but it doesn’t become an experience until you have taken the time to think and interpret its meaning. This interpretation can occur whenever:-

A learner watches or listens to someone else “doing” something that is related to what they are learning. This could be in a real situation or in a classroom simulation. This is observation.

A learner might carry out the task at first hand, again either in a real situation or a classroom simulation. This is doing.

A learner thinks reflectively about a topic then they ask themselves how they think or feel about the subject. This is called self-dialogue.

Dialogue with others can and does come in many forms. In traditional teaching, when students read a textbook or listen to a lecture, they are listening to another person, but it is limited because there is no interaction. A much more dynamic and active form of dialogue occurs when a topic is discussed in a small group. Whoever the dialogue is with, it might be done live, in writing, or by email. Not until the learners have had the learning experience will his subconscious brain lay down the information to be used again at a later date. Hence the saying “learning from experience”.

Enhancing your learning experience

Each student has a preference for how they receive and process information.

  • Visual learners prefer to see the information.
  • Auditory learners like to hear information.
  • Kinaesthetic learners learn best when physically involved (touching, doing, feeling) with their learning.
  • Kinaesthetic learners are likely to benefit the most from active-learning although others, auditory learners will benefit too. But variety is good for everyone.

So, what can you do to make your learning event into a learning experience? How can you involve more active learning into your studies? Consider using a more dynamic form of learning, for example:

  • Interact with your Tutor, ask questions, open up dialogue.
  • Make use of learner Resources provided; Videos, Quizzes etc.
  • Find ways to engage in dialogue with people who know something about the subject (on the web, by email, or live),
  • Keep a Journal or build a “learning portfolio” about your own thoughts, learning, feelings, etc.
  • Find ways of observing the subject or action you are trying to learn about,
  • Find ways of doing the task which you need to learn.
  • Each of the modes of learning has its own value, and just using more of them will add variety and thereby be more interesting for you. However, when properly connected, the various learning activities can have an impact that is more than additive or cumulative; they can be interactive and thereby multiply the educational impact. For example, if you write down your own thoughts on a topic before you engage in discussion, the discussion should be more engaging. If you can also observe the action or engage in the action itself, you will have a better sense of understanding and have received an all-round experience of the action.
  • New experiences have the potential to give learners a new perspective on what is true (beliefs) and/or what is good (values) in the world. Dialogue has the potential to help learners construct the many possible meanings of experience and the insights that come from them. Talking about the experience and engaging in deep, meaningful dialogue, can maximise the likelihood that you will experience significant and meaningful learning.




in Learner Supports