Medical educators have been encouraged to adopt active instructional strategies that require learners to engage in and direct their own learning. These innovations may be seen as disruptive and face early challenges due to student resistance. This article reports on 3 years of experience implementing a blend of team-based learning (TBL) and online learning modules in an undergraduate medical course. Three sequential cohorts of first year medical students were surveyed exploring how they valued different instructional methods during a period of evolving curricular design. In addition to a demonstrated increase in acceptance of new teaching methods, there was a shift in student perceptions of the relative merits of didactic, online and TBL teaching. Medical students’ appreciations of different instructional methods are influenced by the maturity of instructional design. Educational change is best viewed through a longer term lens, acknowledging the necessity for teachers to develop experience in implementing new methods in the context of their institution.