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The Snowball Effect: Evolving Your Class Into An Active Learning Experience

Welcome to the second post in our two-part series about evolving your course to incorporate active learning. Previously we shared how one professor at Ohio University evolved his course into a “90 minute creativity concert” of active learning. Today we’ll share actionable tips that you can apply to your courses.

The Snowball Effect


As we covered how Eric Williams transformed his MDIA 1020: Media and the Creative Process course from a traditional, lecture-based format to an engaging, active-learning “90 minute creativity concert,” we were inspired to think about and share ways that other faculty in any discipline could do the same, using a concept called the “snowball effect.”

The snowball effect is a process which begins with one small change that builds upon itself, becoming larger and more significant along the way, like a ball of snow rolling down a hillside. If properly guided, this process can have a majorly positive impact on a situation just by taking small steps along the way.

Changing a class is not a simple process, but it can be made easier by approaching the process of evolving the course slowly and methodically. By instituting a few small changes each semester, you can “snowball” a successful, manageable evolution of the course in just a couple of years, giving you time to adjust, get comfortable, and evaluate. Let’s talk about a few ways you can get started.

Learning Portfolios: Perspectives from Associate Dean, Dr. Lynn Wooten

Lynn Wooten, Associate Dean, Ross School of Business, learning portfoliosIntegrative Knowledge / Learning Portfolios at the Ross School of Business

We count ourselves as pretty lucky to get to learn from the best at the University of Michigan.

Just the other week, we invited Dr. Lynn Wooten, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, to kick off our Seelio team retreat with her perspective on learning portfolios.

She has been integrating portfolios into coursework at the Ross School of Business for the past few years as a way to help students take knowledge from tacit (something they learn in the classroom) to explicit (something they can apply in real life).

Action-Based Learning Pyramid, Learning Portfolios

Dr. Wooten’s goals for action-based learning

Learning Portfolios in the Classroom

In Dr. Wooten’s curriculum, learning portfolios enable students to create a professional, digital identity where they develop: