What is Interactive Learning? - Overview & Tools

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  • 0:01 In the Classroom
  • 0:48 With Technology
  • 2:14 Without Technology
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Lindy Hatten

Lindy has a M.Ed in TESOL with a Cross-Cultural concentration from Saint Mary's College of California. She has taught for 25 years at the secondary and university levels.

Expert Contributor
Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

Interactive learning is a hands-on approach to help students become more engaged and retain more material. With or without a form of technology, interactive learning helps students strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills.

In the Classroom

Education seems to be constantly changing. Students are no longer expected to sit at a desk and take notes on a lecture. Lessons are much more engaging and interactive.

Interactive learning is a hands-on, real-world approach to education. According to Stanford University School of Medicine, 'Interactive learning actively engages the students in wrestling with the material. It reinvigorates the classroom for both students and faculty. Lectures are changed into discussions, and students and teachers become partners in the journey of knowledge acquisition.'

Interactive learning can take many different forms. Students strengthen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills using a much more holistic approach to learning. Interactive learning can take place across the curriculum with or without technology. Let's look at both.

With Technology

As schools advance and add technology to the classroom, lessons also become more engaging for students. In the area of math, for example, there are hundreds of interactive programs for students to use in elementary and secondary school. Generally, students ask for more technology based, engaging activities, but that is not the case with math worksheets!

Historical interactive activities are available online to engage the history or social studies students. Some activities ask students to become involved and learn more about journeying to a new world. There is a variety of science activities available as well. Students can learn about astronomy or animals and the environment. One interactive program has students pretend they are inventors, and they invent something new.

Language arts also has many interactive options available. For younger or beginning English students, there are numerous websites to review parts of speech, grammar, or vocabulary. Word games such as hangman, crosswords, or word scrambles are also easy to find.

If available in the classroom, smartboards are an excellent tool to allow students to interact with the material and each other. A smartboard is a large interactive board attached to the classroom wall similar to a whiteboard. The main difference is that the smartboard uses touch detection to create a much more interactive lesson.

Technology has brought the world into the classroom. Interactive lessons are at a student's, parent's or teacher's fingertips.

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Additional Activities

Quick Teacher Inspiration

After reviewing this lesson on interactive learning, use this activity to help teachers and pre-service teachers brainstorm quick ways to transform their normal, everyday lessons into interactive ones. This activity works best in a group setting, where ideas can be shared and collaboration can occur. However, it still works well as a self-development activity.

Begin by giving the teachers or pre-service teachers a simple topic that everyone can relate to. This could be something like the Civil War or something more generic, like the song ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.'' The specific topic matters less than what will be done with it; you just want to give something that everyone in the group knows about.

With this topic in mind, everyone should think of a few non-interactive lessons a teacher might do with the topic. This can be things they have done in the past, something they have seen done or an overly simple lesson that students would not be involved in. For example, if the topic were ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,'' a non-interactive lesson could include having the students write out the lyrics, having the teacher sing the song while the class listened, etc.

After this, students will use the same topic and transform the activities into interactive ones. This could be by using technology, allowing for student movement, etc. Examples of interactive lessons related to ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'' could include choreographing a dance, illustrating part of the song, rewriting new lyrics to the same tune, etc.

This brainstorming activity should help teachers and pre-service teachers see just how easy it is to incorporate interactive lessons into their classroom.

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