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Discussing active learning in virtual classes

This article talks about the various active learning strategies for virtual classes.

Active Learning in Virtual Classes

Active learning has proven to be very effective in promoting student-centered learning. And it works no matter the learning environment, whether virtual or physical. However, many good practices are applied in active learning to engage students and foster deepened learning.

Virtual learning is effective when students are interested. Therefore I will discuss some active learning strategies for better learning in virtual classes.

Online Discussions

Online discussion is an important active learning strategy for virtual classes. It gives instructors an idea of how comfortable students are with a particular topic. Students can talk about areas that they find confusing, allowing you to throw more light on those areas. Some students are not too comfortable sharing their opinions publicly.

Such students can choose to be anonymous to share their opinions freely. Students are more comfortable when they discover that their peers have similar concerns. However, there are a few guidelines to follow during class discussions.

They include:

  • Be professional

  • Always track student participation.

  • Do not ask more than one topic at a time.

  • Do not respond when a student asks something you do not know the answer to

  • Instructors should give feedbacks frequently.

  • Do not use acronyms or slang.

  • Do not allow discussion forums outside of class.


Polling is an effective method of checking your students’ opinions and thoughts. You can do this by putting a problem forward and taking their responses in real-time. Many online learning platforms include polling features that allow you to do this easily. You can ask your students questions to know their level of agreement with a statement.

Polling enables you to know how interested and comfortable your students with a particular topic. You can do this before, during, or after a virtual class to engage and track your students' interest level.


Brainstorming allows the students to analyze different possible answers to a problem. And this is an effective learning strategy for active learning in virtual classes. It enables students to be creative and to think critically while improving skills like communication and collaboration. When students conceptualize ideas, they are more likely to have a deeper understanding of the topic.

However, for brainstorming to be effective, instructors must follow a few guidelines. You should give students enough time to enable them to exhaust all the responses they may have. Students can identify the best answers out of all the responses by their peers. Do not criticize any opinions. Make sure all opinions are fair.

It would help if you waited until after the brainstorming session before criticizing students' responses. When you do all these things, students will be able to share comfortably.

Minute Paper

A minute paper is a brief paper given to a student to complete in less than five minutes. Each student must write the paper individually to respond to a given prompt. And this allows the students to reflect on their course content. It is an excellent way for instructors to check their students' knowledge on a particular topic.

You can assign minute papers before, during, or after a virtual class. 

Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning is a way for students to apply what they have learned to real-life situations. It helps students develop useful skills, such as critical thinking and creativity. Students are allowed to conceptualize, synthesize, and criticize the information put forward. Problem-based learning allows students to achieve their course's learning goals using online resources and input from their peers.


Many active learning strategies can be implemented in virtual classes. These strategies will help track your students’ interest level and make them more comfortable to share their opinions. In all, always employ active learning strategies to enable deeper learning and better understanding during your virtual classes.


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