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Giving Students a Hands-On Experience
If you're a teacher, designing interactive learning activities will take a fair bit of your already constrained time and quite some effort; but the rewards you will get will be well worth your while.
Interactive learning activities are educational exercises that are designed to give students hands-on, direct knowledge of the topic or material they are to be taught in the curriculum of a particular subject. Interactive learning is also called experiential learning. Through interactive pedagogy, a student becomes involved in the process instruction instead of being a passive recipient of information as in the traditional lecture method.
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Positive Engagement in the Learning Process
Why is it so necessary for you to include interactive learning in your pedagogy? We've always known that maths and science subjects are easier taught in a lab atmosphere where students can learn by doing--solve problems through the use of given techniques, equipment, instructions and guidelines. The same is now seen to be true in the arts and humanities subject areas. When students are positively engaged in the education process, they learn more and their learning is more stable and long term. When they create their own knowledge, students become stakeholders in their own instruction and thus develop their higher thinking skills or their critical thinking abilities.
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The concept of interactive learning is not new: It is an ancient and time-tested technique:
- The Socratic Method is well known and has been used by educators through the centuries.
- Collaborative and cooperative learning methodologies have been gaining popularity over the last few decades.
- Communication technology and the World Wide Web have made interactive learning more interesting for students and easier for teachers to design. Smartboards, easy-to-use audiovisual software, free internet platforms for blogging, mindmapping, podcasting, sharing, networking--these have all made new ways of interactive learning possible.
If you have the imagination and the will, you can create potentially infinte possibilities of interactive learning activities for your students, no matter what your subject area.
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Tips For Teachers
- When designing interactive activities for younger children, make sure you include some physical "work."
- With older classes, use the latest available technological tools--the method itself should interest them and keep them engaged.
- Webquests are wonderful for all ages because they can be made as simple or as complex as you desire.
- Include non-traditional sources of information collection in your interactive learning plan.
- Pairs or small groups and collaborative learning methods work really well when you want to design interactive learning activities as children motivate each other.
- Instead of giving your students ready-made information, ask them well-conceived questions. The sense of achievement and discovery this process can yield will surprise and delight you.
- Design your interactive activities to make learning reciprocal and less predictable.
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I commend you for being a dedicated educator and wish you many happy hours of designing interactive learning activities for your classes. I hope you will soon discover for yourself the immense rewards of your endeavors to make learning easier and more attractive for your students. When your students become active participants in the garnering of knowledge, the teacher in you is validated and energized. Isn't that the only reason we work so hard at our jobs?
Tips on Designing Interactive Learning Activities
Essays on the definition and origins of collaborative learning and explorations into the nature, scope, benefits and effectiveness of this technique in improving student learning