Active Learning: Giving Students A Leading Role in Digital Learning

The question of whether EdTech is effective is in fact, not a question about technology at all. Nor is it a question of learning design. Rather, the question ought to be rooted in outcomes: Are students learning the material and able to apply what they learn? Are they acquiring new skills as a result of the courses? 

The failure of digital learning to deliver on this promise, as I wrote about in a recent op-ed, is not about how we’ve yet to bear witness to virtual reality or some equally “futuristic” tech, as viable tools for remote learning. The point is that overwhelmingly, technology has thus far failed to deliver effective teaching practices to students learning remotely. The majority of online learning is being transmitted via the video professor lecture, and the lecture, in the classroom or online, has proven to be a less effective method of teaching. It’s the equivalent of watching TV, putting the professor in the spotlight while a passive audience, the students, sit back and soak in the broadcast. 

Active Learning on the other hand, is a method of teaching that gives the student a leading role. They are participatory actors, driving their learning forward, while the instructor provides feedback that individualizes the learning experience. This is Quantic’s method. Our platform prompts students to engage every 8 seconds and provides instant feedback based on their interactions. Only once they’ve mastered a skill do they move on to the next topic; they learn by doing. In this scenario, the student is the star and the outcome of their experience — whether they truly learned the material or not — is the key metric of efficacy. Investments in learning science alone won’t translate to better outcomes for students. Advancements in online learning must come from a two-pronged approach: using the right tech with the best pedagogy and only when the student succeeds should we deem it a success. 

Here’s more on how our process works:

To be clear, Active Learning is not new. Maria Montessori pioneered it within early childhood education, Berlitz with immersion language learning, and Suzuki within violin study. What is new is using this pedagogy in online learning in a way that’s effective and efficient (it’s also pretty fun, too).