4.2.4 Designing for active learning

Active blended learning designs

Active Learning and Engagement (Enabling, Enhancing, Transformative)

As introduced in the video in 1.3 Supporting learning at the start of the Handbook, blended learning focuses on aligning online activity to learning outcomes. The choice of activity involves consideration of the type of learning experience, such as how students will work and interact. Depending on the type of activity, online activities can be designed to:

  • Enable learning – through interleaved practice
  • Enhance learning – insight through structured interaction
  • Transform learning – student-led teaching and discovery

Here we present examples from our case studies that demonstrate different aspects of the active learning spectrum.

Enabling learning

  • Making good use of the things that we find – Dr Ben Dudson, Department of Physics. Use of open online learning resources to supplement traditional teaching content and activities in lab sessions, providing differentiated support to students with varying degrees of programming experience.
  • Elementary phonetics and phonology [PDF] – Dr Sam Hellmuth, Department of Language and Linguistic Science. Use of online formative tests to provide feedback to both students and instructors on student progress.

Enhancing learning

  • Students in the feedback loop – Cathy Dantec, Department of Language and Linguistic Science. Blending face-to-face and online activity to develop students’ approaches to independent learning and writing skills.

Transformative learning

  • Lights, Camera, Heritage! – Dr Sara Perry, Department of Archaeology. Students using creative methods such as video production and blogging to communicate research to the public as part of a professional partnership project.
  • Evolutionary ecology [PDF] – Dr Peter Mayhew, Department of Biology. Group-based collaborative research, writing and presentations.