Active Learning :

On active learning : 460 words 3090 characters.

Active Learning: 

The great paradox of Indian education is that it has produced some outstanding persons who have been great achievers and some of them  also acknowledged with the Nobel Prize in a wide range of fields. But there are millions of people emerging from the same education system that could very well comprise “the useless class” identified by Yuval Noah Harari ( 

One explanation of this anomaly is the age-old saying, ‘Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently,’ made famous by Shiv Khera in his book You Can Win. Those who like to differ from this view insist that winners don’t merely do the same things differently, they do different things. 

I am suggesting here an important element that distinguishes the successful, the outliers or the winners from the rest. And that is active learning. You may philosophise on whether active learning is a different way of learning or something completely different. Did IITs teach engineering differently, or did they teach a different thing called Technology? 

Active learning is an approach to instruction that involves actively engaging students with the course material through discussions, problem solving, case studies, role plays and other methods. Active learning approaches place a greater degree of responsibility on the learner than passive approaches such as lectures, but instructor guidance is still crucial in the active learning classroom.

An active learning session may be seen to comprise the following 7 stages:

1: Advance Reading :

2: Initial question or challenge:

3: Vote:

4: Discussion among peers:

5 and 6: Revote and show results:

7: Discussion:

 You may be inclined  to compare this with the well known Gagne’s 9 events of instruction:

1: Gain attention of the students

2: Inform students of the objectives

3: Stimulate recall of prior learning

4: Present the content

5: Provide learning guidance

6: Elicit performance

7: Provide feedback

8: Assess performance

9: Enhance retention and transfer 

Suitably combining the 7 steps of active learning with Gagné’s nine events of instruction can help you build a suitable learning model that can then be adapted to fit both the content and students’ level of knowledge.

One of the proponents of active learning is Carl Weiman, the 2001 Physics Nobel Laureate who is also a Professor in Education in Stanford University, who actively opposes the lecture model. Here are a few relevant links.

1: Carl Weiman and active learning :

2: Don’t lecture me :

3: Carl Weiman on new ways of teaching Science and engineering (58 minutes):

4: The active learning method (7 minutes):

Happy Learning !

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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1 Response to Active Learning :

  1. Jani Reddy says:

    Thank you for sharing useful resources on active learning.

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