July 14, 2022
Active learning’s a great way to beef up your training programs. But, are you using it to improve what you already have or just adding unnecessary clutter to your training? We’ve listed 10 tips to improve your active learning strategy and ensure it does the trick.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for incorporating active learning into your programs. Business and healthcare learners, for example, require various training delivery and learning strategies to reinforce training prior knowledge and problem-solving skills continually. It’s critical that you set aside time to research on how the active learning process can affect your learners.
Consider using previous training statistics, such as participation rates, the number of below-average performers, and assessments and feedback from particular programs. This data will help determine where your new and current learners can benefit from a more engaging, hands-on learning experience. You can also create a list of active learning examples for your training sessions, such as team-building exercises, debates, games, or simulations.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate active learning into your training, EdApp has a wonderful course on Training of Trainers. Delivered in a microlearning format, the lessons will teach you how to properly facilitate training, co-facilitate sessions, and answer good questions. After taking the course, you’ll be able to determine whether or not active learning will solve problems your current programs already have.
With active learning strategies becoming more popular, it can be tempting to include activities in every lesson, whether appropriate or not. The problem with doing this is it only increases the number of activities but not the knowledge retention of your learners. It’s possible to say that learners are already actively learning even without these activities. They can already be actively learning and engaged by reading books or going through a normal seminar.
Louis Deslauriers from Harvard says, “What do we mean by active learning? We imply that you must first be engaged. That’s one. Second, you must be constructively engaged. And, third, the output must be directed toward a good objective.”
More activities don’t always equal to effective learning. Understanding this as a trainer can support you in guiding and prioritizing your active learning tactics based on what genuinely benefits your learners. Instead of thinking of ways to make your programs more fun, come up with ideas to make your current strategy engaging and memorable. Target for quality learning activities and learning methods instead of quantity.
It’s always good to get outside perspectives when dealing with creative blocks. Brainstorming with fellow trainers can help you identify your training format’s weaknesses and how to use active learning to improve them. Collaboration with people in the same field can also help you generate different ideas about how to address any given training challenge. This might include integrating visual representations with more typical written ones, for example. This active learning strategy tip promotes the development of both concrete and abstract thinking abilities, which are needed for your team to solve complex problems, defend a point of view in case studies and research, and do other tasks.
Any trainer should know that everyone has different learning styles and preferences. But, have you stopped to think about whether or not your active learning strategy addresses each as much as it can?
One way you could do this is by examining the many active learning approaches and blending them into a single style that works for your training style. Some people call this metacognitive method “dual coding,” since persons who adopt it use two or more skill sets simultaneously. If you’re a visual organizer yet your learners prefer reading over visual representations, consider incorporating your drawings into more typical note-taking methods. If your learners prefer to listen than read, you can use mnemonic devices and turn them into raps or songs to keep them engaged. Concentrate on monitoring what appears to work best for the different types of learners you encounter.
While an active learning activity doesn’t have to be high-tech, various edtech solutions are available to assist in its implementation. NoRILLA, for example, employs a real-world virtual interface to teach learners about STEM. It uses AI technology to provide customized and rapid feedback.
According to Dr. Yannier, one of the developers of NoRILLA, the team examined how much kids learned better through NoRILLA vs standard makerspace activities and interactive areas at museums while building it. They discovered that the NoRILLA method improved training compared to not having it at all. “We observed that if you don’t have this AI interactive supervision, even if they were creating a lot with materials, kids didn’t acquire the basic concepts and couldn’t afterward translate it to real-world building,” Yannier adds. “Many schools are attempting to transition to active learning, but how active learning is implemented is critical. It’s not simply about just adding any new activities to L&D.”
NoRILLA’s success in improving knowledge retention is in its ability to help facilitate learning and improve learner engagement. EdApp has a free mobile LMS that can provide this solution for you. Each course in EdApp’s course library is integrated with active learning techniques to keep learners engaged and interested. You can start using EdApp by trading in your training and turning it into an interactive course for your trainees.
Another active learning strategy tip you can do is to allow your trainees to participate in real-life scenarios. This tip can help your learners with information retention by allowing them to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in situations they’re likely to encounter. It’s more relevant when you’re the type of trainer that teaches soft skills such as thinking skills, leadership, communication, presentation, conflict resolution, etc. To learn a second language, for example, your learners can act out how they’d order meals at a restaurant with someone fluent in the language. This type of role-playing allows them to practice their foreign language skills in a realistic setting before using them in the actual world.
Assessments are typical of any training program, especially when you use active learning. However, assessments in themselves don’t always improve learner engagement or make learning interactive. That’s why another active learning strategy tip we have for you is to gamify your quizzes.
Learning becomes incredibly successful when it doesn’t feel like learning. By gamifying your assessments, you can reduce the mental barriers to learning new information and increase the chance of knowledge being retained in long-term memory. Gamified learning stimulates learners, increases engagement with knowledge, and has been shown to improve information retention.
Another way you can turn assessments into games is by adding a competitive aspect to them. Rewarding achievements and milestones by your learners improve their learning experience and motivation. EdApp offers a way for you to do just this. Through a simple, gamification-based incentive system, EdApp gives immediate acknowledgment of course completion, performance, and frequency of use. Users are assigned stars based on criteria you set, which they can redeem for real-world benefits (reflected by your budget or their HR’s). Viewing their profile allows them to track their progress toward the next prize.
While it’s possible to provide the chance to win a single, substantial prize, a study has shown that giving several, smaller rewards (such as free coffee or food coupons) is more beneficial for training programs.
Case studies are powerful learning and training tools. They’re evidence-based narratives that demonstrate the outcomes you’ve taught in your lessons. They can make your learners empathize more with situations they haven’t experienced and understand the reason behind the solutions you’ve offered. For example, you’ve taught your learners about the value of making smart investments vs dipping on every single investment. If you give them a case study of a business that went bankrupt because of bad investments, your trainees will more likely understand the gravity of the consequences and take your lessons to heart, making it more effective.
Case studies also help break the monotony of longer training programs more than setting multi-week, huge group tasks they need to accomplish. Using them as part of your active learning strategy can make it more engaging and successful. Remember to give your trainees a real-world contemporary case study connected to your learning objectives and make sure it backs up what you teach.
To guarantee that all learners feel comfortable engaging, choose a case study or event that is relevant, topical, and well-known. Learners would afterward need to answer a set of questions provided by you that examine how the case study overlaps with your training material and the case’s relevance in contrast to another current issue.
Peer learning is an active learning approach in which learners prepare and present training content to the rest of the attendees or in their own small groups. This active learning strategy tip stimulates engagement and trust-building among learners, which is especially crucial in an age where learning can take place remotely.
Peer learning is simple to implement in any training program. Give them a short selection of topics and subject-matter and ask them to sign up for one of their choices. Allow each learner to deliver their topic to the rest of the group, either in person or by video conferencing. Consider facilitating one or two presentations every week during the course of the training program.
Having learners defend and challenge several viewpoints is an active learning strategy tip to engage the entire class. Debates allow you to assess learner comprehension while also allowing trainees to learn from one another. This activity works best in small groups as opposed to in huge audiences.
When implementing debates in your training, post the subject ahead of time (1-2 days before the debate) to give learners extra time to prepare their remarks. Randomly assign learners to small groups or breakout areas to begin their discourse. You might also want to use a discussion board where trainees can properly react to their peers’ perspectives.
EdApp is a mobile learning management system designed for today’s digital habits, delivering more engaging and effective micro-learning directly to learners anytime and anywhere.
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Stephanie is an eLearning content writer for EdApp, a microlearning solution designed for today's digital habits. She creates content about cutting-edge learning technologies and resources to help companies deliver great training experiences. When not absorbed in writing, she spends her time taking care of her dog and binge-watching.