The focus of Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) is on active learning, not on technology.
Active learning requires students to develop their understanding of content through the active construction of a product, the solving of a problem, or both. It evokes pedagogical scholars such as Dewey, Lindeman, Papert, and Lave and Wenger, and embodies a long human tradition of learning through doing. And there is evidence to suggest that active learning is a highly effective approach to teaching at the university level.
Instructional strategies for active learning can take many forms, including writing, role-playing, gaming, constructing, experimenting, simulating, observing, and discussing. Active learning occurs when students participate in their own learning, no matter what specific activity is involved. Active learning is thinking made visible, with evidence of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It goes beyond passive listening, memorization, and recitation.
The unique characteristics of digital technologies can enhance – intensify, increase, amplify – active learning. Open source software, web apps, common digital cameras, and almost ubiquitous mobile technologies empower and engage students as they construct, build, create, and distribute products that represent and reinforce their learning. These technologies provide opportunities for simulation, experimentation, research, and self-expression. In turn, social media exponentially improve access: access to information, to opportunities for collaboration, to alternative perspectives, and to audiences for student-generated products.
But as amazing as we think digital technologies can be, we should be clear: these technologies are amplifiers, not endpoints. If opportunities for active learning are not present in the classroom, digital technologies may automate processes, but are unlikely to improve learning.
ALT Lab embraces TEAL because it emphasizes the experiential elements of learning and the benefits of digital engagement. When combined with the social learning emphasis of communities of practice, TEAL helps to empower connected learning. For more information on ALT Lab programming related to TEAL, please click here