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Special Collections and Archives Online Instruction: Active Learning

Planning Active Learning Assignments

Learning Objectives

To create the best active learning experiences for your students, we always start with the learning objectives for the session. We craft the objectives using the Learning Objectives for Primary Source Literacy and generally fall into one of the following five categories:

  1. Conceptualize
  2. Find and Access
  3. Read, Understand, and Summarize
  4. Interpret, Analyze, and Evaluate
  5. Use and Incorporate 


We design our activities to directly address the learning objectives chosen for the session and can be tailored to directly connect with the course content. Our activities will incorporate physical and/or digital collections of primary source materials. 

Active Learning Technologies

Conferencing Software:

  • Zoom
  • WebEx
  • GoogleMeet

Collaborative technology:


  • Canvas
  • Credo Instruct


Resources and Example Activities

Resources for Building Activities

  • Document based analysis questions
    •  These questions address select learning objectives stated in the ACRL RBMS-SAA Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy. They can be combined with one another and integrated throughout multiple assignments and sessions to create an activity for your students.
    • Based on an award-winning project at Brooklyn Historical Society, offers a wealth of sample exercises for teaching with archival material. 
  • Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Collective 
    • This site includes all manner of resources related to teaching with primary source materials, including lesson plans for teaching with a variety of primary source materials and subjects.

Example Activities 

  • Look, Think, Wonder: This activity is easily adapted to work with specific course content and can be expanded or condensed depending on the time allowed for it in the lesson plan. It is intended as an introductory guide for examining primary sources. It can be used both synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Examine, Share, Curate: This exercise is a quick introduction to examining primary sources and identifying relationships between different primary sources. This can be used on its own, or can build off of the Look, Think, Wonder activity. It would be best delivered in a synchronous format. 

Special Collections Librarian

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Rachel Makarowski
348 King Library

Digital Collections Librarian

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Alia Wegner
349B King Library
Steward & Sustain