On a Technology-Enabled Active Learning

Let me share a quasi-experimental study by  Shieh et. al. (2010 ), where they explored the learning outcomes and challenges of implementing a Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL).

The study cited the essential role of educational technology such as Micro-Based Laboratories (MBL) and dynamic model building in a constructive and collaborative learning environment and its capability to draw student attention to the lectured topic and to facilitate learning.   The study introduced TEAL as an innovative format of teaching and learning, featuring media-rich software for simulation and visualization. TEAL was compared with didactive teaching by saying that former is an interactive system that is accomplished through the use of the personal response system (PRS).  It added that the PRS helps the instructor individually and instantly elicit, assess, and track all students’ learning progress.

TEAL, the study noted, aimed to overcome the prevalent problems of traditional lecturing, students’ passive learning attitudes, and rote-learning with understanding. Thus, it explained that TEAL helps students to better understand abstract concepts through a collaborative, interactive learning environment.

So what did the TEAL studio look like? Well, it was described as being equipped with eleven 9-seater round tables with 3 laptops each with internet access, seven large screens on the wall for viewing presentations, and then ten blackboards around the walls for group work.

The features of TEAL that I think as amazing are:

  • Integration of lecture and lab activities
  • Interactive learning and peer discussion
  •  Adoption of multimedia
  •  Hands-on experiments
  • Online learning

However, the study also said that facilitating students to learn in an interactive, collaborative, constructivist-based class is a challenging and a complex task for teachers because he/she must be able to identify an appropriate extent and timing of intervention during discussion.  Further, the teacher must need to acquire a thorough knowledge of the content, must have classroom management skills to facilitate the process of activities.