Active student participation online

How can teachers and students together create active student participation in online teaching and 'blended learning'?

The increased transition to online teaching in recent times has created challenges for teachers and students at Uppsala University when it comes to student activity in teaching.

To succeed in creating activity and motivation online, the model below can be helpful for teachers. It describes various ''presences'' that can become even more important in an online environment compared to campus.


Caption: A model that describes how teacher presence, cognitive presence and social presence interact.

The model, which is also included in an article on "best practice" for online teaching, shows that student's learning improves when:

  • Time is set aside for students to get to know each other so they can establish themselves as "real people" in the digital environment. This not only at the beginning of a course, but continuously, as it also improves the academic discussions.
  • The teacher is personal with the students which creates a "personal but purposeful relationships" (Garrison 2003: 64).
  • The teacher supports the students to stick to the subject in question, as disruptions that make concentration difficult can occur during online teaching.
  • The teacher encourages collaborations even if students are already collaborating outside of class, as it helps students who are not already collaborating with peers.
  • The teacher supports the students to get past thresholds in learning by coming up with new ideas, questions and connections with and in the course material.
  • The teacher spends time creating even more clear course structures than you might otherwise do. This becomes more important as the online environment involves a different type of distance between teacher-student and student-student.

Active student participation online does not mean that teachers have the responsibility to activate students, by deciding which exercises students should do or what content they should absorb. Such an approach can rather have the opposite effect and contribute to passivity among students, since students then might start to expect that the teacher should serve the knowledge for the students to consume it. When learning is instead a joint effort of teachers and students, both motivation and learning increase. This kind of community is impossible without active students!

Last modified: 2022-04-19