Learn faster and more efficiently with Active Learning

Active Learning: an effective educational approach

According to the principles of learning, knowledge is not the same as information. Real knowledge is being able to retain information and make it "our own". Only then can we use it correctly, in the right way, in the right situation. But is this possible without actively participating in the cognitive process? Studies have shown that meaningful knowledge comes from active learning activities.

Active Learning is a model of teaching that involves the learner in the learning process through a series of activities. The learner is not just a viewer/listener of information. He/she is at the center of the process, actively participating in the group and applying knowledge to real problems.

But how do we learn today?

The learning pyramid: how do we best retain information?

The learning pyramid model presents different educational methods in correspondence with the retention rates of the information we receive. The pyramid is divided into seven learning techniques, four of which belong to traditional passive teaching. The three technical methods with the highest retention rates are based on interaction and active participation of the learner. According to the model, the most effective way to consolidate knowledge is to teach it to others.

The conclusion is clear: by actively participating in the learning process, we better retain information in our memory in the long term, which gradually becomes knowledge.

How does active learning work in an adult?

The percentage of adults who decide to learn more about a subject that interests them or will be useful to them in the future is growing, mainly through the opportunities offered by the internet.  They can now learn "for life", obtaining a degree, a master's degree or new skills.  Online learning offers new learning opportunities and new technologies now allow the adult learner to be actively involved in the process, as in traditional teaching.

According to studies, active learning fits the characteristics of adults, who choose their education themselves and consciously, according to their personal interests or career plans. Even within the digital environment, adult learners can actively engage, interact with each other and learn through experience and practical applications.

The role of the teacher in active learning

The traditional role of the teacher, as a mere transmitter of knowledge, does not match the dynamic nature of active learning. Transferring theory is not enough. According to the principles of active learning, the modern teacher guides students, engages them in the educational process and teaches them skills to apply knowledge in practical activities. He or she puts the student at the centre of the teaching, motivates and stimulates the student's curiosity. The student builds on what they already know to apply it practically to new concepts and to solve real-world problems. At Big Blue Data Academy, thanks to active learning, students consolidate Data Science concepts much faster and more effectively. Instructors do not communicate knowledge but the ways and essential skills needed to solve real industry problems.

Advantages of active learning

Theory is the basis for knowledge, but practical application is the key to embedding it. The principle of active learning is "learning by doing". The learner is motivated to take an active part in the traditional or digital classroom. He exchanges ideas, engages in discussions, finds solutions to real problems. This creates enthusiasm, interest and ultimately a love of knowledge. Critical and creative thinking is fostered as students share their ideas, think about each piece of information and support their opinions using logical arguments. Understanding is built gradually, through practical application, as opposed to formal teaching, where knowledge is presented 'off the shelf'. Collaboration is emphasised as students think and discuss about concepts and their application. They acquire skills and, most importantly, team spirit which is very useful in the modern labour market. Active learning focuses on 'how' the student learns rather than 'what'.

In an interactive bootcamp program with daily practice and work on a project with real data, students acquire the skills that companies need today.

Disadvantages of active learning

Despite the benefits of active learning, there are some difficulties in its implementation. In some cases, participation through discussions and group work can be a deterrent to introverted students, making them uncomfortable and putting the brakes on their efficiency. Moreover, the success of active learning depends to a large extent on the ability and willingness of each teacher to identify through student participation their weaknesses and to make corrective interventions. The active learning model is implemented more slowly than traditional teaching because the techniques of assimilating knowledge through experience take time to produce results. This is a challenge for the large amount of information and knowledge that the teacher is required to transfer.

New technologies at the service of active learning

Active learning works extremely well with the help of technology. Interactive whiteboards, screens, tablets, document cameras bring classrooms to life and create a dynamic learning environment. Students watch with interest, share digital documents with each other and with their instructor, thus actively participating in the process. Knowledge is consolidated, knowledge becomes experience and students are trained experientially, acquiring the right skills for real life and their professional life.

Reading the stories of Big Blue Data Academy graduates who have already started a Data Science career, we understand the importance employers place on practical knowledge and application of theory. Only a hands-on approach gives the skills needed today to improve processes and solve real industry problems.


You may still be interested:
What is a Data Science Bootcamp? Why should you choose it?
Mentoring. How it works, what are the benefits?
MOOCs vs. structured programs: What is the best option for you?

By Evgenia Profi