For years, students have been classified according to their learning style: visual, tactile, linguistic, and so on. Educators can then focus on those strengths so that the educational experience is optimized for that learning style. And we often talk about how to best accommodate the learning styles of today’s Active Learner.
But truthfully, the characteristics of active learners are still more idealistic than realistic for many educators. Access to devices is still an issue in some areas, comfort-ability and familiarity with tools and technologies are lacking, and responsible use policies are not in place to enable learners to take charge of their education. Ultimately, these skills and opportunities will benefit active learner’s always-on always-connected mindset now and as they prepare for their careers, but why and how?
To address the “why,” students with active learning skills have advantages over those who don’t. Knowing how to search for things like jobs, using advanced search engine queries, maintaining up-to-date cloud-based résumés, and using web-friendly interview techniques are more vital than ever in the new job market.
So what should you do if your student isn’t an active learner?
Here are three ways you can work with your students so that they are set-up for success.
- Engage in active learning early and often with students. Consider going beyond simple uploading of syllabi or slides and course information to Blackboard by having students research a topic online during the first days of a course. Start a social media group on Facebook or start a Twitter hashtag for your course. The more you engage students early, the easier you can identify your active learners and target your efforts appropriately.
- Extol the virtues of active learning. Active learning isn’t about making classwork easier – it’s about enriching the experience and making a connection to the material. An article from The Faster Times explains:
“Technology isn’t making study time easier. Students have to make connections to the material they’re learning. They’re being asked to employ ‘synthesis and critical thinking and creativity, not just memorization.”
- Find out how your students are using technology at home. Finding out if and how students use technology at home can help you tailor the experience at school. Does the student have a computer at home, or are they forced to go to the local library to check email? Does the student have an iPad, or are they new to mobile computing? A key to engaging students with technology is determining their access, and without access, their engagement is destined to be lackluster.