I recently attending a conference called SIDLIT: Summer Institute of Distance Learning & Instructional Technology.
One of the sessions I attended focused on choosing online activities that support learning objectives. The session talked about integrating the absorb, do, and connect approach; an idea put forth by William Horton, an eLearning guru.
Absorb activities impart facts. A learner may read an article, listen to an audio explanation, or watch a short video, etc. to access and acquire the information. This is sometimes seen as a passive learning activity, but our brain is most likely not in a passive mode as we process the new information and try to make it fit into our existing knowledge framework.
One way to make a seemingly passive learning activity more active is to augment the activity. The University of Arizona Library uses a system called Guide on the Side to augment their library instruction. Watch their tutorial about how to find articles using JSTOR. http://www.library.arizona.edu/applications/quickHelp/tutorial/searching-jstor