Strategies for Active Learning

*This particular post is for my Webinars and Synchronous Learning Events course.

In my webinars course, we have been learning about William Horton’s strategies for active learning to prepare us for presenting our own webinars.  My first webinar assignment is to design and present a short fifteen minute webinar to anyone who can attend.  The topic I have chosen is the basics of emotional intelligence.  With only 15 minutes to present, I am keeping my information fairly high-level, but I still intend for my learners to leave with a basic understanding of EI as well as a desire to learn more.  To ensure that I meet my objectives, I plan to use all of Horton’s suggested learning activities:

  • Course assignment being addressed in this post:  Complete the Graffiti protocol by posting a photo of your piece of paper sharing an interactivity strategy (you may think in terms of Absorb, Do and Connect strategies) you plan to use during your Short Webinar.  Write approximately 250 words elaborating on how and why you will use this strategy during your webinar.


During my webinar, I have actions planned for all three of Horton’s learning activities – absorb, do, and connect.  They’re not necessarily big actions, but they’re well-suited for a webinar that is intended to stay within a twenty-minute timeframe.  The activity that I plan to spend the most effort and time on is the last one, connect.  After I make the introductions, I plan to take a poll with the audience that will help to set the stage of why it’s important to learn about the topic of emotional intelligence.  I am going to ask the audience to look at six images showcasing various emotions and indicate which images they associate with.  I will then transition into a high level explanation of what emotional intelligence is and go over the results of the assessment that the participants were asked to take before the webinar began.

My connect activity will be at the end of the webinar and will be in the form of a question that will ask the audience to ponder what they have learned and how it relates to themselves and their own situations.  I plan to ask, “Now that you understand the basics of emotional intelligence, how do you think you can utilize a greater understanding of EI to help you be more successful at work?”  This question ties back to my earlier poll question where the audience chose which emotion images they associated with.  I will remind them of the answers they gave and ask them to take what they’ve learned and apply it in such a way as to be able to avoid the earlier mentioned emotions.  I will ask the learners to type their responses in the chat window and then select one other learner to respond to.  This will have the participants interacting with me, as well as each other, and have them apply what they’ve learned to their past, current, and future real-life situations.   It will make the learners more aware of how the concept of emotional intelligence can positively affect their success in the workplace and ultimately inspire them to learn more about emotional intelligence.

  • Course assignment being addressed in this post:  If there is an excerpt from the readings I’ve not captured that you would like to share, please include the excerpt.

From William Horton’s E-Learning by Design, page 40:

“Connect activities lead learners to link what they are learning to prior learning and to situations in which they will apply the current learning in subsequent courses or on the job.”

  • Course assignment being addressed in this post:  Select one of the excerpts listed and write an approximately 250 word reaction to it.

I chose the excerpt above because it truly resonates with me, not only as student in a graduate program but as an instructional designer at work as well.  I feel it nicely summarizes why connect activities are the most important for a learner like me, someone who needs to connect what I am learning to my own real life.  William Horton explains this in more detail in his book, E-Learning by Design.  He writes about how connect activities aim squarely at increasing application of learning (pp. 168-169).  He discusses how one should use connect activities in teaching something when the application of the topic is crucial, when the actual application of the topic is not adequate, when you’re teaching a broad or general subject, when learners may doubt the applicability of the material, and/or when learners cannot make connections by themselves.

As an undergraduate student who changed her major five times, I was in a constant state of uncertainty, never sure of what I should be learning because I couldn’t connect any of it to real life.  As an example, Horton writes about how college students apply binge learning to pass courses they are required to take but for which they see no practical value.  I feel like I did this for years while I was in college.  So Horton’s quote above truly makes me wish I’d been able to experience more “connection” within my courses thus enabling me to make better decisions pertaining to my education and my future career.  The aspect of applying your learning to real life reminds me of an acronym I have used on the job for years now…WIIFM, what’s in it for me?  Learners need to know why they should care about what they’re learning and how they can apply it to their own lives.  Why else are we here to learn, if not to improve ourselves or our current situations?