I’ve been wanting to learn how to develop interactive content for course design but didn’t have the time, money, or opportunity to learn the sophisticated elearning authorware. This week, I found out that H5P is fairly easy to use and can be integrated within our Moodle learning management system (LMS). Plus, it’s an open educational resource provided for free. It uses HTML5 to create content that is displayed in existing publishing platforms.
I developed a drag-and-drop vocabulary activity to pair color-related Greek prefixes with medical terminology. This H5P learning activity is from the Question Set authoring template and includes multiple-choice, True/False, drag-and-drop, mark-the-words (select correct words from list), and fill-in-the-blank. See my first attempt authoring with H5P on their community site. It turned out larger than expected, so I need to figure out how to reduce it for smaller devices. You can download my vocabulary learning object for reuse on your website or LMS.
This is the first of many more H5P projects I’ll develop, so join the community or bookmark my account if interested. I thought H5P was fairly easy to learn. Have you tried it yet? What have you made? Please share in the comments section.
Active learning engages students directly in the learning process through instructional activities with differing degrees of interaction that is student-centered, whereas passive learning occurs indirectly and without interaction. The latter is often, but not always, teacher-centered. Student-centered learning emphasizes learner control and manipulation of information, so students can actively use what is learned. Students respond well when they have a participatory voice in their learning. Additionally, active learning is preferred because it triggers cognitive functioning. This is based on the cognitivist (with constructivism as a subset) educational learning paradigm.
Examples of active learning include the following:
Studio model with a teacher or student observations and feedback (e.g., writer’s workshop, art production, portfolios)
Group work (e.g., business proposals, case studies, mixed media presentations)
Gaming and simulations,
Metacognitive strategies to monitor self-learning,
Transference of knowledge to new problems and situations, and
Assessments that require analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
These can be configured to the hybrid and online environments via videoconferencing tool for synchronous conversations, forum tool for asynchronous discussions, shared drive and collaborative documents, media hosting platform, and portfolio or other platforms to share student work. Besides the general activity description and assessment piece, these digital activities require clear guidelines for interacting with each other, the content, the teacher, and the tools (e.g., group roles, peer review criteria, schedule, samples, tool guides).
What does active learning look like online?
Active learning can take on different formats, levels of engagement, and levels of complexity in setup. For example, active learning can be individually or collaboratively assigned. Online educators use the community of inquiry (COI) framework to ensure students are engaged with the content, each other, and the instructor to maximize learning. Social presence (SP), cognitive presence (CP), and teaching presence (TP) are the essential elements to the communication loop for an online COI (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This means that online learners are involved in cognitively challenging activities for CP (i.e., analysis, synthesis, evaluation), are able to interact with classmates for SP (e.g., discussions and projects), and that the teacher or student moderator is present in some way through communication, guidance, and feedback for TP. This document covers various instructional strategies and the digital tools to engage students online through active learning as structured through the course’s primary interactions (e.g., lecture, discussions, assignments, assessments, feedback, and guidance).
Set the Stage for Active Learning
Tell your students what you expect of them in the online course. A best practice is to provide a ‘Getting Started’ folder with your syllabus, schedule, pertinent documents, and protocol for interactions (Quality Matters, 2014). For example, share course requirements for the online environment and address learning values such as the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset.
Dweck (2009) described those who underestimate their ability to learn as possibly having a fixed mindset, while those who believe that they can learn by establishing attainable goals and applying effort to learn as having a growth mindset. Students with a growth mindset want to be corrected; their ego is not tied to learning. Conversely, those with a fixed mindset do not pay attention to corrective feedback. They believe that learning should not take any effort because it is tied to their intelligence; their ego influences how they learn. Students with a fixed mindset may be resistant to active learning. See the blog post to Focus on the Process to Support the Growth Mindset of Students.
Make sure students know how to use the learning management system (LMS) prior to high-stakes assignments to reduce anxiety and to reduce the cognitive load for the overall task. Here are some useful tasks to help familiarize students with the LMS:
Student acknowledgment form submission/assignment (i.e.,, course expectations),
‘Getting Acquainted’ discussion,
Syllabus quiz to ensure students have read it, and
Poll practical experience on the course topic to better understand students’ prior knowledge on the subject and drive instruction to meet students’ needs.
The lecture, demonstration, or direct instruction of a skill is a passive learning event unless students are provided ways to interact with the content. Consider using EdPuzzle,PlayPosit, or Camtasia Studio to engage learners while watching a video lecture or demonstration with questions to answer before preceding to the next segment; these third-party premium tools provide instructors with learner analytics.
Instructional strategies. Strategy election depends on various affordances and constraints such as time and resources. For example, an activity-centered lesson is based on an interactive task and requires collaborative tools and student groupings. Content-centered lessons are passive tasks where the student generally only interacts with the content, the exception being discussions of content. Experience-centered activities require a hands-on approach to developing something or serving/working with others. The learner-centered activity provides the learner with more autonomy over their pursuit of knowledge and includes metacognitive actions for self-regulation of learning; the affordances and constraints for this type of activity are highly dependent on the task. Overall, the best practice is to utilize a variety of instructional strategies to address learner preferences. Here is a list of online instructional strategies for each type.
· Analysis of case studies
· Critically review an article
· HyperInquiry* team project
· Academic controversy** assignment
· Develop a book trailer on topic
· Write a literature review
· Complete modules on topic in computer-adapted lab/program
· Write essay
· Make a presentation
· Discuss content with peers and instructor
· Develop questionnaires
· Develop a personal model of topic
· Participate in a simulation
· Develop a workshop
· Develop a wiki on topic
· Produce a podcast on topic
· Develop a how-to guide on a procedure
· Write a blog post on topic
· Serve others as a mentor, tutor, or volunteer on topic
· Curate an art exhibit
· Peer-review of papers or projects
· Students create m/c questions for review
· Design a project
· Evaluate a program
· Write an autobiography of your interaction with topic
· Complete self-evaluation
· Develop a personal learning network
· Capture reflections in journal, audio, or video
· Curate digital books and articles on topic for lifelong learning
Notes. *HyperInquiry is like a Webquest but at a deeper level of inquiry (Dempsey & Litchfield, 2001). **Academic controversy is a debate where students eventually take on both sides of an argument.
Learning strategies. Learning strategies are ways students can engage with the course readings and other content to monitor their learning. Cognitive learning strategies include concept mapping, mnemonics, overlearning, metaphors, and similes. Embed these learning strategies into your instructional activities to build students’ brain schema on the topic and its relation to other subjects for long-term memory. Share this list of cognitive strategies with students. The difference between cognitive and metacognitive being concreteness versus meta-awareness respectively. Most students are likely familiar with the structurally cognitive ones such as concept maps but may not be familiar with the others. Share this Student Learning Organizer of Metacognitive Strategies. Tying learner strategies to your instruction will make it more inclusive.
Discussions can have well thought out open-ended questions provided by the instructor, student-generated questions, or no questions at all. For example, one instructor has had great success without providing questions in his online discussions. Instead, he tells students the purpose of discussions and that they will find suggestions for these by listening to his podcast or video lecture for that unit.
Roles. Provide structure and student agency to discussions by assigning roles (e.g., starter, responder, wrapper) and rotating those roles during the course. Additionally, this will prevent the same students posting first and everyone else waiting to reply. Student-moderated discussions provide social presence to the online community of inquiry (COI). See blog post on how to plan for an online COI.
Media. Use the audio or video recording features to share responses besides the text-based option to provide novelty and multiple means of representation. Ask students to provide a visual created by the student that illustrates their learning along with their reflection. See Google Drawing illustrating a students’ understanding of reading regarding semiotic domains. This provides both teaching presence and social presence for the online COI. The exchange of media will close the psychological distance between you and your students.
Monitor. For equity, a best practice is to create a matrix of teacher-student interactions to track your response efforts over the course of the semester. Monitoring your discussion posts will curtail various biases and ensure consistency. Set up a spreadsheet to do this and include personal information shared in the ‘Getting Acquainted’ discussion to provide a more personalized context to interactions with each student.
Highly effective tasks are those which are situated within the actual task (authentic or simulated) or end goal for your course for near transfer of information to long-term memory. This is in contrast to far transfer tasks that are related but not exact. Situated learning occurs through different modes of co-participation based on situational factors (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Learning in one situational context may not transfer to another unless it closely mirrors it and the learner is properly prepared; therefore, authenticity is crucial to the learning situation (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989).
Groupwork. Student-led projects provide student agency in the design of their own learning. Provide the parameters, team roles (e.g., team leader/organizer, researcher, writer, & presenter), and peer evaluation forms to ensure everyone participates fully. Include expectations for group grade such as everyone provides proofreading of assignment prior to submission. Encourage student groups to set up their own ground rules for group meetings and task sharing. Monitor group work by asking to be added to the document workspace such as a shared Google folder.
Presentations. As for hybrid courses, maximize the face-to-face meeting by asking students to present their work to each other during seminar sessions in their level one courses. This is referred to as flipped learning when you use class time for student activities instead of teacher-centered activities. For fully online courses, students can share their media presentations (e.g., narrated PowerPoints saved as MP4 files, podcasts, video projects) with other students in a media hosting site that allows students and teachers to provide feedback, as well as tags, titles, and captions.
How can students demonstrate mastery besides multiple-choice tests? These are still useful for testing recall. However, to engage the learner in higher-order thinking skills, we should provide alternative assessments such as project-based learning, essays, portfolios, performance, products, and presentations. These do not need to be end-of-term projects. Formative assessments can be formal or informal (practice tests, digital exit tickets, polls), which serve as comprehension checks and subsequent student feedback during the course. This is in contrast to summative assessments that test your cumulative knowledge on a topic at the end of the term. Formative assessments promote fairness by gathering evidence of students’ understanding throughout the course, which can be used to better inform/modify your instructional practices to meet students’ needs.
Testing is a learning event. Consider setting tests for multiple attempts to help students achieve mastery. This triggers new learning and/or review of content, as student revisit content for answers. Tolerance for error in course assignments also makes it more inclusionary. To prepare for a test, ask students to use the free tool PeerWise to create questions on the topic of study for each other to answer. Some instructors ask their students to submit questions for actual tests. In this scenario, students develop questions from the content according to its structure and importance.
Feedback & Guidance
Learning requires differing feedback loops offered at intervals throughout the course, hopefully, with just-in-time guidance. Feedback can come from intelligent tutors through computer adaptive programs, instructors, teaching assistants, peers, and subject matter experts from the professional field. Formats for feedback loops vary from discussions, recommended edits on a paper, rubrics, and assessments.
Rubrics. Rubrics establish the criteria and scale for various tasks such as discussions and assignments and make the expectations explicit. Rubrics provide consistency and speed with grading. Some electronic rubric features allow you to provide feedback at the criterion level and for overall performance. Additionally, you can tag your departmental student learning outcomes to these rubrics to help students understand why the task is important.
Scaffolded instructional feedback. Scaffolding instruction provides content in meaningful and manageable chunks of information. This entails providing visuals for structure, context, direction, and just-in-time definitions. For example, segment a lecture at viable points and ask reflective questions. For writing, break large tasks such as research papers into point-based phases of the writing process (e.g., outline, literature review with five citations, rough draft, final paper). Consider the universal design for learning and design for tolerance for error by providing space to practice (e.g., mock interviews/comps/presentations, tutorials, simulations).
Peer feedback. It is critical to provide guidelines and criteria for peer feedback tasks. This involves establishing roles, a clear project description, rubric, and instructions for tools used. For writing, assign a peer review of draft papers utilizing MS Word tracked changes or Google Docs suggested edits. Instructors can request access to the documents for review.
In summary, for active learning, students need the following:
Preparation for learning events,
Situated learning environments for near transfer,
Planned multimodal interactions that are cognitively challenging,
Feedback loops, and
Metacognitive strategies to monitor their learning.
Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.
Dempsey, J. V., & Litchfield, B. C. (2001). Surfing below the surface of the Web: HyperInquiry. In B. H. Kahn (Ed.), Web-Based Training (pp. 229-234). Englewood Cliffs, NY: Educational Technology Publications.
Dweck, C. (2009). Developing Growth Mindsets: How Praise Can Harm, and How To Use it Well. [Presentation]. Paper presented at the Scottish Learning Festival, Glasgow. Retrieved from http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/video/c/video_tcm4565678.asp
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2(2-3), 87-105.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Quality Matters™ Rubric Standards. (2014). Higher education rubric, fifth edition. Quality Matters Program (QM). MarylandOnline, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/rubric
Want to learn more about active learning? Check out this reading list. In preparation for my Fulbright application to Norway for an active learning research project, I prepared this bibliography last year. It includes some Norwegian research on the topic. I didn’t get that postdoctoral Fulbright but will try again next year for something else. It took a lot of time preparing the application, and my references and potential hosting institution were so helpful in the process. Special thanks to Dr. Rob Gray for serving as an intermediator in the application process! You can read about his work below. If you have any seminal articles on active learning, please leave the citation in the comments section for inclusion. See my blog post for designing active learning in distance education.
Astin, A. W., & Antonio, A. L. (2012). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment (2nd ed.). New York: NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Banta, T. W., & Palomba, C. A. (2015). Assessment essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Barkley, E. F., & Major, C. H. (2016). Learning assessment techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2007). Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does (3rd ed.). Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education, 5, 7-74. doi:10.1080/0969595980050102
Brookhart, S. M. (2007). Expanding views about formative classroom assessment: A review of the literature. In J. H. McMillan (Ed.), Formative classroom assessment: Theory into practice, 43-62. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1991). Applying the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education.New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 47. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Deci, E. & Ryan, R. M. 2014. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Berlin: Springer.
Dysthe, O., Englesen, K. S., Lima, I. (2007). Variations in portfolio assessment in higher education: Discussion of quality issues based on Norwegian survey across institutions and disciplines. Assessing Writing, 12(2), 129-148. doi:10.1016/j.asw.2007.10.002
Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. PNAS, 111(23), 8410-8415. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319030111
Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
Nusche, D., Earl, L., Maxwell, W., & Shewbridge, C. (2011). OECD reviews of evaluation and assessment in education: Norway. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/norway/48632032.pdf
Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Thum, Y. M., Tarasawa, B., Hegedus, A., You, X., & Bowe, B. (2015). Keeping learning on track: A case-study of formative assessment practice and its impact on learning in Meridian School District. Portland, OR: Northwest Evaluation Association. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED567844.pdf
Wiliam, D. (2007). Keeping learning on track: Formative assessment and the regulation of learning. In F. K. Lester, Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook of mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 1053–1098). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Google Suite, along with the Chrome browser’s Omnibox and useful extensions, can be used to enhance the teaching of all learners with universal instructional design principles. Google Suite is the new name for these features: Google Apps (Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides), Classroom, and Drive. This blog focuses on the use of technology to augment instruction through differentiation via scaffolding, formative assessments, and student collaboration. Google professional development opportunities and teacher resources are also addressed.
There are several efforts to design education with universal design in mind. Palmer and Caputo (2003) proposed seven principles for universal instructional design (UID): accessibility, consistency, explicitness, flexibility, accommodating learning spaces, minimization of effort, and supportive learning environments. The UID model recognizes those needs for course design. Its main premise is equal access to education and extends this to all types of learners and not just those with disabilities. For example, all learners can benefit from multi-modal lessons. Palmer and Caputo’s principles should be kept in mind as you develop differentiated instructional learning scenarios with Google Suite. See my blog post to learn more about the universal design for learning.
My College is a Google Apps for Education campus, which means we have unlimited storage on our Drive and seamless access to Google Suite through our school Gmail. Speak with your Google Suite administrator to learn about the features and functions of your access, as some institutions like my alma mater block YouTube and Google+.
The following scenarios address possible technology solutions for teaching all learners. For instance, scaffolding supports different learners’ preferences, as well as the needs of lower-performing students. Formative assessments are important to obtain ongoing feedback on student performance; use these often. They can be formal or informal (practice tests, exit tickets, polls). Formative tests promote active learning, which leads to higher retention of information learned. Use the following list to add your ideas and scenarios for differentiated lesson planning.
Google Tools & Features
Your Ideas & Scenarios
Provide visuals for structure, context, or direction & just-in-time definitions
Google Drawings, Docs’ Explore tool, & Drive
Students make their own graphic representation of a concept or complete guided tasks with the frame provided by an instructor.
Provide authentic speaking practice prior to oral test/presentation
Google Docs’ Voice Typing, Chrome Browser’s Omnibox for a timer, & Drive
Students work individually or in small group turn-taking voice typing their scripts/stories on Google Doc within a timed parameter on a split screen.
Check for comprehension to obtain data to drive instruction/remediation
Google Forms, Sheets, Classroom, & Drive (Alternative: Google Slides new feature allows for asking questions & polling question priority live from slide.)
Students take a quiz on Google Forms to demonstrate knowledge after a lesson (exit ticket) or homework. Instructors receive Form responses in a Google Sheet. Sheets has Explore tool for analyzing data for visual display for data-driven discussions among teacher cohort/supervisors. Auto import grades from Forms to Classroom gradebook.
Students use app with embedded choices to check their own grammar
Free Chrome extension, Grammarly and/or app
Students correct errors in their first writing drafts on the app or within online writing platforms (e.g., wiki, blog, or email). Grammarly is also available for MS Office and Windows but not for Google Docs. Use its app to check Docs or other writing formats by pasting content to New Document.
Hi/low peer collaboration and/or tutoring
Google Apps, Classroom, & Drive
Students share settings on project Docs, Drawings, etc. to collaborate via text comments or synchronous video chat sessions.
Resources for Digital Literacy Skill Training
Did you know that Google provides lesson plans for information literacy?
Do you need to teach your students how to refine their web searches? See Google Support.
Internet Safety Tip- Recommend that students use incognito browsing on Google Chrome when conducting searches to reduce their digital footprint. See Google’s YouTube playlist, Digital Citizenship and Security, and their training site for more information.
Accessibility Resources for Assistive Technology
ChromeVOX – Google’s screen reading extension for the Google Chrome browser and the screen reader used by Chrome Operating System (OS).
TalkBack – This is Google’s screen reading software that is typically included with Android devices. Due to the design of Android and its customizability by hardware manufacturers, TalkBack can vary and may not be included on some Android devices.
Screen Magnifier – This is the screen magnification software included with ChromeOS. The magnification function in ChromeOS doesn’t have a unique product name like other platforms.
Hey, Google – This is Google’s personal assistant, which is available in the Google Chrome browser, ChromeOS, and many Android devices.
“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire