Teaching with Technology

Incorporate Active Learning Strategies Using Little Known Features of Campus Technologies

by Chris Grabau, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

Incorporating active learning strategies into a course’s design can improve students’ recall of course information, improve academic performance, reduce cognitive load, and promote student engagement (Bonwell & Eison, 1991; Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Prince, 2004).  Although there are a number of University-supported academic resources available to faculty, knowing how to incorporate them as an active learning strategy can be difficult.  Below are three lesser-known features found within our University supported academic resources that may help faculty use active learning strategies in their course.

1. Configure Tegrity to record video of a presenter or to record in-class activities:  Image1Research suggests that lecture capture provides students deeper engagement with course material (Zhu, 2010).  While many faculty use Tegrity to capture in-class lecture slides, the program also has a built-in camera mode that offers an opportunity to foreground the instructor camera instead of a computer screen.  Recording video of the presenter allows an opportunity for instructors to do demonstrations or even capture classroom activities that students can review at a later date.  To use the camera option, start a Tegrity recording and open the option tray by clicking on the arrow on the left side.  Active Learning Strategies:  Use the camera to record role playing, student presentations, simulations, or panel discussion and other in-class activities.  Post the recording to the Blackboard course and have students blog, journal, or critique it.

2.     Distribute “view only” or “comment only” versions of Google Docs and Slides for student access:  image2Using Google Apps (Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets) can be an efficient way to deliver course materials to students. Prior to class, consider sharing versions of your slides or documents with students.  Distribute a link to “view-only” or “comments only” versions of files made with Google Docs and Slides.  To do so, select one of the options available in the share tab of any Google Docs and Slides.  Active learning strategies:  Use the “comment-only mode” to give students a chance to compare notes, find the muddiest point of a class lecture, or to peer review a document.

3.  Use Audience Tools in Google Slides to encourage classroom participation: image3 Tools like Poll Everywhere offer great opportunities to gather feedback and promote student interaction.  Google Slides now offers similar features through its newly released Audience Tools option. When used in an in-class setting, students can ask questions or post reactions to course topics introduced in Google Slides.  Instructors have the option to post student responses or to only display student feedback for themselves.  To enable “Audience Tools” select the “presenter view” options available within the “present” tab of the Google Slides.  Active Learning Strategies:  Use the Audience tool to poll students, ask for the muddiest point, offer a quick quiz, or provide an interactive discussion.

Consider giving some of these options a try and determine whether they complement your teaching style and course design.

If you would like to investigate how these and other technologies can promote active learning in your course, contact the Reinert Center for to schedule a consultation.

If you want to learn more about how these technologies work, or about other campus-supported technologies, visit the ITS website for more information.


Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-Eric Higher Education Rep, 1. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research, Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.

Zhu, E. (2010). Lecture Capture: A Guide to Effective Use. Tomorrow’s Professor. Retrieved 26 February 2016, from http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/tomprof/posting.php?ID=1042″