When I talk to other instructors about using more active learning in their classes, I regularly hear concerns about the time it takes to plan activities. My number one piece of advice is to liberally borrow ideas from others. And, in fact, one of my favorite things about the active learning community in higher education is how many great ideas are already out there, just ripe for the taking.
My university had its annual Teaching Day a couple of weeks ago and the keynote speaker was Claire Howell Major. Among the many other insightful elements of her presentation, she shared a resource that was new to me: the K. Patricia Cross Academy. One of the primary elements of the website is a library of videos presenting teaching techniques. Each video is short – just 2-3 minutes long – and presents a very practical and concise summary of a teaching technique. The videos are clearly developed with the busy instructor in mind; each technique is presented with quick tips on how to use it in class. There are currently 39 techniques on the website. Some might be old hat to active learning pros, like the Think-Pair-Share, but there were some ideas that were new to me like the “Update your classmate” writing activity which I plan to use soon. Many of the techniques will be familiar to readers of my favorite book, Student Engagement Techniques (which I’ve already talked about here, here, and here), which isn’t surprising when you see that Elizabeth Barkley and her frequent co-author Claire Howell Major are the instructors behind the project.
In just 2 short minutes, you can find a new idea to engage your students.