Reading – Active Learning or Passive Learning


Image on by andrechinn

Reading (online) in itself is passive learning. However, when the activity in accompanied by the use of a worksheet to identity, synthesise and evaluate the online information, it is active learning.

Active learning about using “techniques such as writing reflections, discussion, problem solving—activities that promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation that guide students towards achieving learning objectives.” “Typically tools are used to support the activity, for example handouts, whiteboard, chalkboard, smart phone apps, platforms such as Google Drive or Twitter. The choice of activity and tool are (or should be) determined by the learning goal, as well as other factors that include, time available, location (in-class or online), class size and others that are specific to the students, such as their skill level and access to tools.”

Passive learning “is where students are recipients of knowledge, are expected to record and absorb knowledge  delivered by an expert—a faculty member or textbook (McManus, 2001). Passive learning aligns with behaviorist theories where the student is viewed as an empty vessel waiting to be filled.”



“An American educationalist, Edgar Dale, developed the ‘Cone of Experience’, also known as the ‘Learning Triangle’ in the 1940s/50s. In recent years the research has been disputed as the original data was not recorded, however, even if we disbelieve the percentages used, common sense tells us it’s generally right.”

“E-Learning is often self-paced and self-directed. Does it follow that it is therefore passive? Not necessarily so. It would be a mistake to view training and particularly online training as a way of being able to commit less time (human capital) to obtain great leverage from the scale opportunity. Instead, careful thought should be given to the topics to identify where a more passive or active approach is required. Writing course material with rhetorical questions and inviting learners to perform research and to post findings to their Learning Line (using the I Learnt This! button) is an example of an active approach.



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