There’s no single right way to approach developing Active Learning content. What’s important is finding the right way for you. To get started, see if any of these strategic approaches sound like a good fit.
Concurrent Development Strategy
Work on Active Learning concurrently with your manuscript. Developing Active Learning in tandem with your manuscript helps you capture ideas while the material is still fresh. Following this method enables you to organize instructional content with interactivity in mind—or vice versa. For instance, as you complete a table in a chapter, you could simultaneously draft a drag and drop activity that recalls the information presented in that table.
Keep in mind one challenge of this approach: potentially rewriting content. If you get to the end of your manuscript and realize you need to rewrite a few chapters, the interactive materials you’ve already drafted to go with those chapters may need to be updated too.
Post-Manuscript Development Strategy
Work on Active Learning after finishing your manuscript. In many ways, this approach is beneficial for both manuscript and Active Learning development. First, it helps ensure you finish drafting the text by your deadline. Second, it helps you avoid redoing any interactive content to match revisions made to the manuscript.
If you employ this method, consider making notes as you write each chapter regarding the following:
- Topics that would benefit from or align with Active Learning exercises
- Complementary resources, like YouTube or original videos
- Other Active Learning activity ideas
This way, you hold on to your inspiration for Active Learning (one of the concurrent approach benefits) without getting caught between the text and related activities.
Work on one chapter of Active Learning at a time. Consider this strategy if you have a more relaxed writing schedule and/or different activity types aligned with distinct parts of your project. This way, you can develop a complete set of Active Learning exercises for each chapter—addressing assorted topics with the appropriate activities—and not be distracted by other chapters’ material or non-applicable activity types.
If you apply this approach, consider your goals for Active Learning, and leave yourself enough time to work on each chapter’s worth of activities before your deadline(s). Otherwise, you might end up with a less balanced offering of Active Learning exercises across your project for the initial edition.
Content Group Strategy
Work on one content group for Active Learning at a time. This method ensures you have cohesive Active Learning content across your project, even if you run out of time for creating more activities. Another benefit is developing increased comfort and familiarity with each activity type. This helps increase efficiency in crafting sets of activities and encourages you to explore each activity type’s capabilities.
When deciding which content group(s) to start with, consider the following:
- Prioritize discussions, assignments, and/or quizzes: This ensures your project consistently contains gradable content and helps you quickly determine the areas in which students struggle or succeed. Students’ scores from the first term of use can guide you in identifying topics for additional support and practice activities to create in later terms.
- Concentrate on essential activities: Select the content group that—after assessments—seems most crucial for helping students understand the material and achieve the goals you set for them.
Creating your materials by content group can be a great approach if you have a tight schedule or have any concerns about offering students a unified set of Active Learning materials. It can also be useful if you encounter licensing issues or need more time to develop a particular set of activities (like original videos). You can continue to prepare additional elements for a later edition while still offering students a consistent set of other Active Learning exercises.