Learning Tools for Active Learning


FIU Online’s monthly Instructor Webinar series explores relevant instructional strategies and effective ways to use technology in an online classroom. The “Engage and Activate” webinar, presented in May 2021 by FIU Online’s Dr. Trina Sanders and Charles Roig, demonstrates how to use learning tools to incorporate active learning into your class. View the full instructor webinar recording

Instant Replay: Engage and Activate: Learning Tools for Active Learning

The Challenge of Online Engagement

Online Learning has several benefits that have made it attractive to learners and instructors alike, most especially flexibility. But the flipside of that benefit is being aware of potential roadblocks to student engagement with online learning. That same asynchronous learning format that allows for flexibility also makes it difficult to engage students with the same techniques that work in the classroom setting.  

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of creating an online learning curriculum that centers completely on lectures and quizzes. But this misses the vital part engagement plays in learning for our students. Just because learning is online it doesn’t have to be inactive. How to engage students when they aren’t in a physical classroom with you?

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is any type of learning activity in which students participate or interact with the learning process. These can include activities like problem solving, group work, simulations, and gamified tasks. Active learning has improves retention of content beyond mere lecturing and reading. Also, critical thinking skills and motivation increase in classrooms using active learning techniques. But most of all, active learning engages students.  

As a result, active learning can be one more tool to bridge the engagement gap that comes with asynchronous learning. It’s important to note that learning is learning, no matter the format. The pedagogical reasons a technique works in a classroom setting still apply in online learning. However the difference in format requires an alternative approach. For active learning, this means the use of learning tools. 

Learning tools can engage online students by changing passive instruction into formative activities. They provide the opportunity for simulation, practice, and self assessment outside of a classroom setting. Finally, they provide new opportunities for interaction and discussion. 

Learning Tools for Active Learning


PlayPosit Interaction Types
PlayPosit Interaction Types

Videos are a very useful tool for online learning, but they are by nature very passive. PlayPosit is a video enrichment tool that brings interactivity to this content. Using PlayPosit, a video can have interactive quizzes, commentary, and even discussion embedded directly into the stream. 

PlayPosit works with videos found on websites like YouTube. But it can also be used with Mediasite or Zoom recordings. Best of all, PlayPosit integrates with Canvas, allowing for the creation of auto-graded assessments with robust analytics.  


Simulation and practice are other active learning techniques. H5P can help you build these types of activities. H5P is a content creation platform that allows for a huge variety of interactive activities to be built. It features standard online question formats like multiple choice and fill in the blank. Also, H5P allows for the creation of activities such as matching, hotspots, and drag & drop. The real power of H5P is that it is modular, and these assessment activities can be built into any presentations, videos, and simulations created in the platform.

Part of active learning is role play, and H5P offers a free and intuitive way to build this for your online class. Among H5P’s many activities are 360-Tours and Branching Scenarios. These features can be used to create interactive online learning environments for students to explore.  Further, with the assistance of FIU Online’s Multimedia Team, real in-person activities like field trips and site tours can be brought to online students no matter where they are in the world.  

To use H5P, please contact the FIU Canvas Help team.

Google Workspace

Some types of active learning can be achieved with the use of tools you already know. Google Workspace, which features commonly used tools like Drive, Docs, and Sheets, is an excellent resource for active learning activities like group work and discussions. The power of these Google products is their capacity for real-time collaboration, so that students can work together on content, either in group settings or as part of an instructor-led session. 

There’s More!

These are just three learning tools that can bring active learning to your online class. However, there are so many more to experiment with. These include:

Reach out to your instructional designer for more information about ways to bring active learning to your online class using these and other tools. 

Instructor Webinars

Insider Instructor Webinar Series

Missed a webinar? Access all the recordings and recaps for past instructor webinars.

If you have any ideas for future webinar topics, we can’t wait to hear them. Contact Christina Schettini (cschetti@fiu.edu) to share your ideas for future webinar topics.

Charles Roig is an instructional designer with the Learning Design team at FIU Online. His work includes researching new tools and collaborating with faculty to foster engagement in online learning.

Related posts