"Passive Engagement" vs. "Active Engagement"

"Passive engagement" and "active engagement" refer to how engaged a learner needs to be in order to receive information.

For example, watching or hearing a lecture is a more passive form of engagement because there’s not much a learner needs to do; they just need to continually watch or listen. Scenarios and simulations, on the other hand, require learners to more actively engage with material through application, repetition and feedback.

There are a few ways to actively engage your audience:

1. People often learn best by doing. Many learning outcomes — e.g., developing skills, changing behavior, mastering procedures and processes, etc. — are better achieved by having learners directly apply and repeatedly practice what they're learning.

2. People often learn best when they've "bought in." If you can convince learner’s that a learning process has value and will tangibly benefit them, they’re more likely to bolster their own engagement (though, sprinkling in some hands-on engagement opportunities is still recommended).

3. People often learn best when they enjoy the learning experience. Tone and approach can also influence where content lands within the passive-to-active-engagement spectrum. Content that is lively and/or humorous, references learner interests and experiences and/or pop culture, utilizes particularly interesting and/or pertinent examples will promote more active engagement than content that makes fewer appeals in these areas.

This doesn't mean you need to avoid passive engagement but rather, when you do utilize it, seek to balance it with active engagement to meet your learning objectives. Explore Duration and the “Engagement Clock” for related guidance.