Forum Learning Environment
Maybe we need to rethink our assumptions about ‘online’ learning.

When considering online classes, most people envision pre-recorded lectures, pre-programmed activities, and other content-driven educational approaches. Such practices, based on traditional classroom instruction, have been shown, time and again, to be largely ineffective, leading to low course completion rates, and minimal understanding, retention, or recall of the information being taught. Minerva has built a virtual learning environment that surpasses physical classrooms in multiple dimensions.

Minerva’s educational methodology is also far more intentional, dynamic, and effective than traditional techniques. Over the past seven years, we have developed and refined an instructional approach, using decades of research into how people learn best, while utilizing more recent advances in interactive technology. Comprising a host of pedagogical best practices and curricular design principles, the methodology is enabled through a highly-engaging learning environment, called Forum™. With live, multi-stream video classes, integrated course development and management tools, and rich data collection and analysis features, Forum is purpose-built to facilitate Fully Active Learning, Cross-Contextual Scaffolding, and Systematic Feedback & Assessment.

Minerva’s Forum learning environment provides unrivaled functionality for courses of all kinds, from small tutorials to seminars to large classes of up to 200 students.

Fully Active Learning

The Fully Active Learning pedagogy is based on well-established science. Minerva has systematized this cognitive and behavioral research into a set of instructional practices that keeps learners engaged in every class, leading to improved understanding and enhanced learning outcomes.

Rather than the traditional focus on lectures and information dissemination, Fully Active Learning promotes a deeper grasp of the concepts being taught. Classes are constructed using a range of collaborative activities, including Socratic discussion, live polling, breakout groups, debate, role-playing, and simulations, among others. Instructors guide each session, emphasizing learner participation, group discourse, and project-based applications.

Features such as TalkTime, a real-time view of learner participation, provide instructors with powerful tools for conducting classes in the Fully Active Learning format.

Cross-Contextual Scaffolding

By incorporating deliberate, spaced practice, across multiple contexts, all Minerva curricula are designed to foster both depth of understanding and the ability to apply learned concepts broadly. This structured progression—or scaffolding—is based on scientific evidence and means courses foster the development of mastery over time.

Specific outcomes are introduced early, then reinforced throughout each course, with intentional overlap among courses. As learners progress, concepts become more complex, challenging, and interwoven. Through explicit and implicit prompts, learners are encouraged to transfer their knowledge to diverse contexts and novel situations.

Minerva is one of the few players in the world that is comprehensively reforming education, especially around transferable competencies.
Roger Cheng, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Systematic Feedback & Assessment

The Minerva approach also allows student progress to be carefully tended and evaluated, during class, in conversation with instructors, and through formal assessments. The robust tracking and assessment tools Forum provides empower instructors and institutions to deliver formative feedback, both in-the-moment and over time.

The data can be shared across courses, instructors, and departments, leading to better integration of critique, support, and grading. Students can also follow their own performance and progress, encouraging self-reflection, intellectual growth, and skills development.

Each class session is recorded and tagged, so instructors can provide formative feedback and assessments, based on specific examples of learner performance.

The information-rich, technologically-enhanced Forum learning environment is a powerful means of improving educational outcomes. Its support of scientific best practices, and its sophisticated instruction and evaluation tools promote improved class experiences, as well as greater understanding of the specific mental tools each course is designed to teach.

If you recognize the transformative power of education for individuals, organizations, and society, Minerva is your premier program partner.

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Minerva Voices

In this piece, Patrick Watson, Ph.D. explains how virtual classes can be more engaging and personal.

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