Learning islands

Students learn different pieces of information in different subgroups.
  • Small groups (3-10)
  • 30-60 minutes
  • >60 minutes
  • Activating prior knowledge
  • Discussion
  • Remember
  • Understand

When to use it?

  • When you want students to learn from an expert or from one another.
  • When you want to encourage discussion between students.
  • When you want to introduce a lot of new content to students.

Activity instructions


  • Choose a topic that can be divided into small chunks of content in which the order of the content is not relevant.
  • Prepare the different learning islands (or groups), including the corresponding host per island, as well as the time and rotation schedule.

Activity steps

  1. Make groups
    Divide the students into small groups.
  2. Explain
    Explain the topics of the different groups, as well as the rotation schedule.
  3. Rotate
    Let the students visit the different sessions while following the schedule.
  4. Summarize
    Close with a plenary session in which you ask the students to summarize what they've learned or to connect the different topics to each other.

Tips for implementation & variation

  • Online teaching: You can host the different learning islands in different breakout rooms.
  • Keep in mind that time-management is vital. When one session takes longer, it takes time away from the next sessions.
  • Depending on the main topic, you can let students choose their own sessions. However, try to let the students sign up in advance so the groups will not become too big or too small.

Supporting tools