Topic 9 – Active vs Passive Learning using Multimedia Tools

Topic 9 Learning Objectives. By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Describe four or more active learning techniques and why they often lead to higher grades and longer-term recall of skills and facts than passive learning techniques
  • Describe why most instruction will use a combination of both active and passive learning techniques to enable differentiated learning
  • Create a sketchnote as a way to make turn a passive learning technique, like reading or watching a video, into an active learning technique
  • Describe how a Flipped Teaching method with technology can differentiate learning for learners of differing ability
  • Describe what active and passive learning techniques and tools we are using in EDCI 337

Introduction to Topic 9

Let’s start this week with a story about Active Learning, Math, and the infamous Saanich Goat Condo:

(4 min)

There is a large and growing body of research that indicates that active learning techniques tend to lead to higher grades and longer-term recall of skills and facts than passive learning techniques. So if it’s true that active learning is more effective than passive learning, why have we spent the last two weeks learning about storytelling techniques and ways that we can make our PowerPoint presentations more effective, both of which are typically passive activities for learners? Why have we used passive learning techniques in the class including at this exact moment reading this text?


These are questions that we will explore this week as we learn how to Sketchnote, and look more closely at the science and practice of using active and passive learning activities using online and multimedia learning tools.

Active Learning

What is Active Learning? Generally speaking, Active Learning, is an approach to instruction that involves actively engaging students with the course material through hands-on skill-building, discussions, problem-solving, reflective writing, case studies, and other methods (What Is Active Learning, n.d.). What is Passive Learning? Common passive learning techniques include traditional lectures, reading, and watching videos.

(2 min)

Now that we have a grounding in what Active Learning is, what does active learning typically look like in a University classroom? As you watch the following video, please think of how you could use active learning techniques in persuasive presentations and video instruction that you might need to create in the future.

(6 min)

I love this old Chinese proverb sometimes attributed to Confucius:

“What I hear, I forget; What I see, I remember; What I do, I understand.” - Confucius

Active learning is definitely not a new concept, even if some of the tools we now have at our disposal for multimedia learning are new. Now try to decide for yourself which of these activities are active, and which are passive in this H5P sorting activity (not the H5P interactive video tool we’ve been using so far):

What active learning looks like in any given situation will depend on the audience (or learners) and the learning outcomes for the topic or skill to be learned. Read the first 3 tips in the following excellent article that outlines 5 tips for multimedia-enhanced learning. Please pay special attention to Bloom’s Taxonomy and think about how you could use technology to create activities that would use higher-order skills in the taxonomy. Feel free to annotate the article with

Flipped & Differentiated Learning

Flipped learning is an instructional strategy which aims to increase student engagement and learning by having students complete introductory readings and videos at their home and work on live problem-solving or skill building activities during class time. Technologies like videos, blogs, and learning management systems can facilitate the flipping of instruction.

Flipped learning enables Differentiated learning which in this case allows learners to move through the materials at their own pace, so that learners who need more time or repetition can do and because the instructor is not lecturing in the classroom they have time to offer more face-to-face support to struggling learners. On the other hand, learners who are more comfortable with the topic can quickly move through the pre-class materials, and then complete the problem solving or skill building activities at their own pace, and not be bored by a forced march through the materials at the pace of the slowest learner. The instructor can guide the learners who quickly complete the assigned tasks to go further and pursue more advanced skills related to their personal interests.

OPTIONAL: If you like to learn more about Differentiated learning, please read this excellent article: Differentiated Learning with Educational Technology
(5 min)

The Flipped Learning teaching method can be a useful tool that instructors can use to free up face-to-face instructional time, whether than be in a physical classroom or a Zoom room, for active learning exercises in a way that allows the instructor to support those who need extra help, and allows everyone to move at a pace that they are comfortable with.

Hands-on This Week

We have three hands-on activities this week. The first activity is a short game where you learn about fake news by creating your own fake news empire. The second is Sketchnoting where you will learn to use simple drawings and text to better remember things. The third is a short activity on image capture and annotation on your computer.

An Active Learning Approach to Fake News

Bad News is a fun media literacy multimedia game with a storyline where the player (aka the learner) tries to get as many social media followers as possible by spreading fake news. As you play the game think about the difference in experience your learners would have playing this game vs a more traditional teacher-led media literacy lesson.

Don’t forget to screen capture your high score at the end of the game to put in your blog post (if you don’t know how to screen capture your high score, see hands on activity #3 below). Don’t worry, you can play the games as many times as you like! Play Bad News Now!

Play BadNews Now!

Please skim pages 3 & 4 of the following document about disinformation and the theory behind how the Bad News game tries to combat disinformation.

Sketchnoting: Doodle Your Way to Better Grades

“Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines” (Rohde, 2013).  Emergent research indicates that summary note-taking, combined with relevant drawings combine to be an effective way to remember new information and create links to other related concepts and ideas. Sketchnotes can also be an effective tool to communicate complex ideas succinctly and clearly (see below).

This workshop will briefly review the benefits of Sketchnoting, before working through basic Sketchnoting techniques to create a personalized Sketchnote on a provided topic or any topic chosen by a participant. For this activity, you will need a pen and a notebook or 3 or 4 sheets of paper.

(3 min)

I personally use Sketching while I’m reading articles or book chapters that I particularly would like to remember. Sketchnoting can also help me stay focused in less than exciting meetings or classes. Please note that you don’t need to be an artist in order to successfully sketchnoting! This next video is a gentle introduction to Sketchnoting skills for university students who are non-artists.

(5 min)

Here is more research that explains why sketchnoting is so much more effective than taking notes on a laptop when in class or doing readings, please check out the following three articles:

DSC Sketchnoting workshop introduction:

(9 min)

Let’s start Sketchnoting!

  1. Please get out your pen and paper (or notebook) and work through this short Sketchnote Skills building activity (5 min)
  2. Create your own Sketchnote! As you work through this activity you can use the provided summarized journal article, or choose a reading from one of your other classes instead if you’d like (15 min)
  3. Take a picture of your Sketchnote so that you can put on your blog if you’d like!

Sketchnoting is an excellent method supported by multimedia learning theory and principles, and can help turn some passive learning activities into active learning activities, and the only technology required is a pen and paper! Now that you have spent some time sketchnoting and learning about sketchnoting, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which learning theories and multimedia principes does Sketchnoting take advantage of?
  • Do you need to be artist to Sketchnote?
  • What skills are required to successfully sketchnote?

If you’d like to do more hands-on drawing and learn more about Sketchnoting, I highly recommend working through The Sketchnote Handbook which is available free of charge through the library (Rohde, 2013).

A wonderful guide and workbook if you’d like more practice Sketchnoting

Image Capture & Annotation

In this exercise, you will practice capturing still shots of all or parts of your screen, annotating the screen captures and inserting the resulting image file into a blog post. If you already use an image capture tool, please practice using it during the hands-on activity. If you don’t have a favourite image capture tool, then please follow along and use the suggested tool in the lesson capture activity below. Have fun!

(5 min)

Please complete the following Image capture activity using either the Techsmith Capture software, or your favourite screen capture tool:

Tasks & Assignments This Week

  1. Topic 9 Blog Prompts:
    • What was your Bad News score (take a screenshot)? Which multimedia learning principles does the game follow and not follow? How could you improve the game?
    • Post a picture of your sketchnote you created and discuss which learning theories and multimedia learning principles relate to Sketchnoting and how.
    • Could Sketchnoting be helpful to you in your schoolwork or in life in general? Why might it be helpful? How might it not be so helpful?
    • What active learning methods are we using in EDCI 337?


Claudine Delfin. (2012, January 7). The Basics of Visual Note-taking.

Differentiated instruction. (2021). In Wikipedia.

Flipped classroom. (2021). In Wikipedia.

Mathers, B. (2017). Wikipedia – Active vs Passive learning.

MBR University. (2019, November 9). What is…Active Learning? [Mp4].

McCue, R. (2020, June 9). Sketchnoting Workshop Introduction for EDCI 337 Lab [Mp4].

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159–1168.

Oosterwoud, R. (2018). Bad News Information Sheet. Cambridge University.

Rohde, M. (2013). The sketchnote handbook. Peachpit Press.

Verbal to Visual. (2016, March 1). Sketchnoting For College Students [Mp4].

Stansberry, S. (n.d.). Differentiated Learning with Educational Technology. In Applications of Educational Technology. Oklahoma State University Libraries. Retrieved March 13, 2021, from

Teachings in Education. (2017, June 20). Flipped Classroom Model: Why, How, and Overview [Mp4].

Top Hat. (2018, November 26). Active Learning: How Professors Should Teach [Mp4].

Verbal to Visual. (2015, January 30). How To Sketchnote Without Drawing.

What is Sketchnoting? (2017, August 21). Verbal To Visual.

What is Active Learning? (n.d.). Queens University – Teaching & Learning. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from

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