Course Design Kit » Learning Activity

You have identified what you intend for students to learn. You want them to have certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes. What are students going to do in your course to discover and master these learning outcomes?

Here is where creativity in teaching methods and learning technology come together to create engaging online learning experiences. You can consult ITDL designers to develop your learning activity. Below are some elements you may wish to include in your course.Activities outocmes assessments

  • Advance Organizer/Orientation
  • Material Delivery and Presentation
  • Student Learning Activity
    • Student to Content Interaction
    • Student to Faculty Interaction
    • Student to Student Interaction
  • Assessment: Faculty and Student Self-Check
  • Learning Evaluation

Advance Organizer/Orientation

This is a brief introduction to the unit or activities that the student is about to undertake. This is important for two reasons: to link this material and experience to past learning, and to direct student attention to key ideas and activities in the lesson. Research shows that as we learn we develop schema, or mental models, into which we assimilate new information. An advance organizer (AO) can activate this schema or make students aware that existing schema may be challenged. The AO can be a chart, graphic, outline, brief audio or video introduction or paragraph that prepares the student for what is to come. It can even be a series of questions intended to foreground misperceptions and pique interest.

Course Material Delivery/Presentation

What source materials must students engage for this unit? Do you feel it is important to present some material yourself to help students understand it? Here is where you can add or provide links to source materials. This material could be a narrated powerpoint presentation, a video, text or other instructor created material. Depending on the format, materials should be broken into managable "chunks" and follow guidelines for accessibility and usability. Moreover, materials should be integrated with learning activity and follow best practices for multimedia design. The following video summarizes these best practices.

Student Learning Activity

Research shows that a deep level of engagement in one or more of the learning interactions below is essential to learning. While utilizing all three provides opportunity to enage different student preferences and skills for learning, you do not need to use all three. But deep engagementg with one is key to success in an online course.

Student to Content Interaction

Students go beyond passive absorbtion by acting on the material. This can take the form of relfective writing, making a concept map linking key precepts, answering questions, and applying material to case studies and problems.

Student to Faculty Interaction

There is a significant body of research showing that interpersonal communication between faculty and students leads to student learning and satisfaction. This interaction can be a tutorial, virtual office hours, direct Q&A, or discussion. It can occur synchronously through web conferencing or live chat, or asynchronously through email or a discussion board. Learner to learner


Students apply what they have learned from other instructional methods by engaging in dialogue or collaborative activity. This can take the form of group projects such as the joint research and publishing of presentations, discussion board assignments, and peer reviews.

Assessment and Evaluation

Provide “self-check” or practice assignments that provide students feeback. Examples:

  1. Writing assignments that allow for the submission of a draft for instructor comment and suggestions for improvement
  2. Self-mastery tests and quizzes that include informative feedback with each answer choice
  3. Interactive games and simulation that have feedback built in
  4. Practice quizzes
  5. Practice written assignments
  6. Peer reviews
  7. Model papers or essays provided for students’ viewing
  8. Sample answers or answer keys provided for students’ viewing

See the Assessment and Evaluation section for more information on this important element of teaching and learning.

(Image sources: Crash Course In Learning Theory by Kathy Sierra, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. )