Unit 2: Learning Environments, Theories, and Activities

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Unit 2 Goal

The goal of this unit is to familiarize the participant with the educational terminology related to learning environments, theories, and instructional methods.

Learning Objectives

  1. The participant will differentiate asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid or blended learning.
  2. The participant will examine adult learning and evidence-based educational theories.
  3. The participant will examine the flipped classroom modality.
  4. The participant will explain how active learning promotes deeper understanding than passive instruction and why active learning is so important to medical education.

Entry Ticket

Follow this link to take a short quiz before beginning this unit.

Adult Learning and Educational Theories

Adults learn differently from children and instructional design must account for these differences. Malcolm Knowles, an American educator, adaptped the term 'andragogy' (originally coined by Alexander Kapp) as a term referring to the methods and principles of adult learning. Knowles' research into andragogy established five key principles:

  1. The learning is self-directed.
  2. The learning is experiential and utilizes background knowledge.
  3. The learning is relevant to current roles.
  4. The instruction is problem-centered.
  5. The students are motivated to learn.

The following video illustrates the ideas of Malcolm Knowles as well as several other andragogical theories.

The Flipped Classroom

The flipped classroom model offers educators a flexible, active learning model that can be designed to fit almost any topic or subject area.

"There is no single model for the flipped classroom—the term is widely used to describe almost any class structure that provides prerecorded lectures followed by in-class exercises. In one common model, students might view multiple lectures of five to seven minutes each. Online quizzes or activities can be interspersed to test what students have learned. Immediate quiz feedback and the ability to rerun lecture segments may help clarify points of confusion. Instructors might lead in-class discussions or turn the classroom into a studio where students create, collaborate, and put into practice what they learned from the lectures they view outside class. As on-site experts, instructors suggest various approaches, clarify content, and monitor progress. They might organize students into an ad hoc work-group to solve a problem that several are struggling to understand. Because this approach represents a comprehensive change in the class dynamic, some instructors have chosen to implement only a few elements of the flipped model or to flip only a few selected class sessions during a term" (Educause, 2012).

Exit Ticket

Follow this link to share your thoughts on active learning versus passive learning. Reflect on your educational experiences and share an example where you would have preferred to have an active learning activity instead of a passive one.


Educause Learning Initiative. (2012). 7 Things You Should Know About... Flipped Classrooms. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2012/2/eli7081-pdf.pdf.