Learning is a process of meaning-making, constructed through learning with others, and as a part of an intentional, deliberate system within a course and across experiences. For learners to actually be able to use what they have learned, they need to make sense of it for themselves, not just encounter new learning and memorize it.  When we learn something, we have to connect it to what we already know, be able to fully describe what it is and is not, and see its implications. Sometimes, learners know about something but can’t apply that learning to specific actions.  This is called the knowing-doing gap.  Partial understanding and an inability to apply are both best addressed by a series of active experiences where students need to use what they have learned, ideally with others and in manageable chunks appropriate to the outcomes.  Technology facilitates active social learning is several key ways:

  1. It connects learners to ideas, and provides ways to record, reorganize, elaborate on, and store information based on how a learner prefers to think.
  2. It connects learners to other learners so they can discuss ideas and create shared products.
  3. It can keep a record of participation and activities, so an instructor knows what a learner actively did and contributed.


Yin knows students need to think about the ideas she has just taught, and raises a common debate about the best actions to take to allow her students to actively engage with the topic.  In her regular session, she has students turn and talk to each other, and then submit a summary in Canvas.  In her online class, students participate in the discussion board and take turns summarizing the discussions for everyone.

Breadth of Options (3E)

Below are examples of using learning technologies for undergraduate research, under the 3E Framework to the address the principle “Active and Social”. For more examples of using learning technologies under the 3E Framework, see Illustrative examples of using learning technologies with the 3E framework.




Students share their research with others in the class through online discussions and links to their work.

Students are given the option to share their research through a variety of technologies including video, podcast, poster, or other tools appropriate for disseminating the results.

Students contribute research to a shared, collaborative resource such as a blog, collaborative document, or open textbook so that learners in future iterations of the course may benefit and build upon the research.

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