Break The Learner Snooze: The Journey from Passive to Active Learners

Break The Learner Snooze: The Journey from Passive to Active Learners

The traditional way of teaching involves a teacher standing in front of a classroom full of students, delivering their lectures with the help of text written on a board. This sometimes evolves to showing text-heavy slides in a powerpoint presentation.

Even a mental image of such a setting might trigger a sense of sleepiness in the minds of many students.

Though nothing can completely replace the traditional “passive” way of delivering lectures, it needs to be supported and reinforced with other “active” methods to promote higher knowledge retention among learners.

Whether you train school students or corporate professionals, you must mix up traditional passive methods and active learning techniques to improve the learning outcomes.

What Is Active Learning? How Is It Different From Passive Learning?

Passive learning is entirely focused on the teacher, while the students have to consciously focus to absorb the contents of the lecture.
But when the focus of the learning process is on the student instead of the teacher, it becomes an active learning process. Active learning significantly boosts the retention of knowledge among the students as they are now a part of the process.

Active methods of learning are interactive in nature as the foundation of such methods is the establishment of a two-way communication between the teachers and the students. The objective of such methods is not to simply cram some theoretical stuff and write it in the exams to pass. Rather, it is to develop a thorough understanding of the concepts so that they go into the long term memory of the students.

Any activity that breaks the unidirectional communication in the classroom and stimulates students to engage within themselves and with the teacher on a certain topic can be defined as active learning method.

Let’s discuss some of the most effective activities that you can introduce to your classroom to liven up your students and enhance their retention power.

Break The Learner Snooze: The Journey from Passive to Active Learners

Types of activities that stimulate active learning

Involve these activities in your teaching to move from passive to active learning

Initiate a Class Discussion or Debate

One of the best ways to promote active learning among your students is to let them discuss a topic related to your course material. You can act as a moderator, driving the discussions forward and suggesting pivotal points in between to cover all the points.

More the number of students in the class, better would be the results of the group discussions because there will be a higher number of arguments from multiple perspectives on the same topic. This inculcates a holistic level of learning among students and they retain the knowledge that they have learnt for a significantly longer period as compared to the passive ways.

Create a Quiz

A lot of students fear exams and quizzes because of the sheer pressure they feel while taking one. But quizzes are a proven way of strengthening the knowledge of students by putting it to action in practical or hypothetical situations.

You can inject fun into your quizzes in order to remove the fear factor out of them. For example, you can use different question types like true-false, fill in the blanks, matching and multiple choice to break the monotony. Or you can use real-life examples and situations in your questions that students can relate too.

Quizzes are a great medium of active learning in online courses, as you can create a quiz at the end of each section of your course.
Ask your students to write a summary or reaction

Another great way to break the traditional routine of imparting knowledge through lectures is to show your students a video related to your course material, and ask them to write a short summary or their reaction on it.

Such an activity boosts creative thinking and encourages the students to go beyond cramming stuff. It also increases their critical thinking abilities because they have to write arguments from multiple perspectives to support their opinion.

Reverse the roles

Fortify the knowledge of your students and skyrocket the engagement within your classroom by asking your students to teach a class on certain topics. You can ask each student to study a particular topic a day before, prepare a small presentation and then deliver it to the rest of the class.

This can be quite a fun activity for your students as well as you, and you can rest assured that everyone would be learning a lot.

Break The Learner Snooze: The Journey from Passive to Active Learners

Experiment with Gamification

Learning through games is well-known to be one of the most effective ways to learn even the most complex new concepts. You should try to mould the content of your course into a game to enhance class interaction and learning in a fun yet effective manner.

No wonder that games like Jeopardy are quite popular among modern instructors to interact efficiently with their class and impart their knowledge in a much better way.

Demonstrate a live example

No matter how hard you try, lectures on theoretical concepts turn into a snooze-fest in no time at all. You can break the slump by supporting your theory classes with practical demonstration of the concepts in real life with a live example.

If a live demo is not possible, you can show a video based on it to stimulate the minds of your class.

Organize Field Visits

These are even better than the live demonstration in class. A visit to a museum or a factory or an exhibition is a superb way to transform the learning process of your students from passive to active. Experiencing the practical, real-world applications of the concepts they learnt in the class can be huge inspiration for them and would motivate them towards learning even more about them.


You can’t succeed in imparting knowledge to your students if you rely solely on passive learning techniques of unidirectional communication with your students. Active learning methods are much more fun for the class and you, and result in much higher levels of learning and retention of knowledge. Which of these methods have you used in your class?