When we speak of active learning we speak, as  Héctor Ruíz Martín says, of cognitively active learning, beyond learning by doing, it is about learning being aware of how we do it, that is, in a metacognitive way.

Added to this point, essential to activate the learning process, two elements must always be present in the mind of the educator when laying the foundations of his instructional design: the autonomy and self-regulation of the students.

These two aspects go hand in hand, are inseparable, and drink from each other. If the teacher wishes to achieve a personalized education, and therefore inclusive, that goes beyond the four walls of the classroom, he must promote and collaborate in the development of these two elements in his students.

In the current situation that we have had to live through, these are two points that are crucial because, on many occasions, we are working from home for long periods, without the motivation, accompaniment, or direct guidance of colleagues and teachers. We are facing new educational environments, whether they are of a mixed nature or online.


When referring to unexpected educational contexts, we refer to the abrupt incorporation into mixed educational environments that many teachers, along with students and families, have had to suffer.

Concepts such as mirror classrooms, splitting, blended contexts, or synchronous and asynchronous activities are the order of the day, often confusing each other and opening up a range of very interesting possibilities for which most educational agents are not sufficiently prepared.

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When you have to change the scene suddenly, it is not only a significant transfer of resources and tools but also some necessary methodological and strategic adaptations of our instructional design as a whole.

There is talk of the undeniable need to develop digital competence, of students and teachers, but there is not so much talk of modifying how we teach, how we communicate, how we teach, and how students learn so that the process remains meaningful and active.

Certainly, knowledge of tools will provide us with more options when it comes to considering how to translate what we did in class into a digital environment, but this step will not be, far from it, enough.


Autonomy will be the key to being able to access more complex educational proposals and the need for its development becomes especially clear when there are changes of stage and, in the case at hand, of educational contexts. In this sense, Iris Carabal comments that “ functional autonomy must be sought, from early childhood, to acquire skills and strategies to be able to self-manage in the classroom. Always within the zone of its proximal development. We must work continuously within the evolutionary development of each child”.

We can say that autonomy is the starting point towards a personalized education, in which the teacher can be a guide and the student can follow their own pace. To achieve this, the key to opening that drawer is called self-regulation, that is, being able to manage and plan our learning.

Of course, the two previous points are strongly connected to a third leg: metacognition. Knowing how we learn, what costs us more, what tells us less, etc. It will help us plan our study and our tasks, being autonomous throughout the process.

And if we want to put the fourth leg on the table, which may be the most convenient, we must remember that the personalization of education and the activation of learning, through self-regulation, metacognition, and the consequent autonomy of the students, will influence in a very positive and direct way that the so precious and long-awaited real inclusion takes place.


In any case, as always, theory and practice can be light years apart and far from going hand in hand. It is very different to talk about a topic than to take it to the classroom, be it face-to-face or virtual.

For this reason, we do not want to finish this short article without sharing some advice that, we hope, can help teachers facing this paradigmatic change. In any case, we anticipate that they are generic and introductory advice that must be adapted to the specific circumstances of each center and the ages of the students.

  1. About live connections. They must be planned by the educational center as a whole. It should not be the work of an isolated teacher. There must be coordination so that neither students nor teachers are oversaturated with online classes. Let us remember that face-to-face classes are not the same as classes through a screen, a disconnection is necessary from time to time.
  2. About asynchronous activities. As happens in face-to-face education, or should happen, when proposing tasks to be carried out asynchronously, we must control the workload that students have about all subjects. Therefore, again, coordination and communication are essential.
  3. About centralization. Once the above points have been established, the teacher (or the center) must communicate clearly and through different channels how and when the classes will take place. It is essential to have a platform where last-minute changes or similar announcements can be notified. Let us bear in mind that our organization and planning will facilitate that of our students.
  4. On the teaching role. Although we have seen many issues that do not depend on the teaching staff, we, in the classroom, can explain the rules. Encourage students towards study and personal work, promote spaces for communication between equals (and thus they can feel more accompanied), leave some time in our live connections so they can talk a little with each other and promote group work.

To promote self-regulation and reflection on it, we can propose an activity in which they have to draw up a schedule of what they do daily and how they distribute their time. We would share it and discuss it, assessing the pros and cons of each proposal.

In the case of autonomy, we recommend using digital tools that allow autonomous revision and progress at different rates, personalizing learning. These are free resources, which are available to everyone. Thinking routines can also help us to develop our metacognition. But that topic should already be addressed in a different article.

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