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Online learning activities

Interaction is an essential component of the educational process. In online courses, learning activities are the key to ensuring that interaction is included in your module. This includes interaction with learning materials and interactions between teachers, students and the student peer group.

Learning activities will help:

  • Engage and motivate your students and ensure they are active rather than passive learners
  • Create a learning community
  • Encourage independent learning and a deeper understanding of the subject
  • Allow students to use, apply and synthesise their learning
  • Ensure your module caters for different learning styles
  • Provide opportunities for ongoing feedback
  • Make your module more enjoyable!

We recommend that there are at least two activities per topic/week of your module. 

You can read our in-depth guide to designing learning activities on page 11-12 of our handbook "Developing Online Courses for Distance Learners". 

Types of activities

Your Academic Instructional Designer will discuss online activities with you, demonstrating examples of activities that work well in an online environment and reviewing how your activity ideas could be translated into the online environment. 

You could include several types of activities within your module:

Icebreaker activities

You should include icebreaker activities within your induction material to help build a learning community, engage students from the very beginning of the course and motivate them to participate in future activities. They are most effective when based on reciprocal interactions, providing an ideal opportunity for the tutor and the students to get to know each other. 

The easiest types of icebreaker activities are discussion boards with questions posed. Example tasks might include: 

• Why are you studying this subject?
• Introduce yourself and post a photograph. (An interactive map could also be added to this activity to allow students to pin
   their locations.)
• Post two truths and one lie about yourself. After posting, try to guess from other students what their truths are and what their
   lie is. Ask clarifying questions to help you figure it out.
• What are your hopes and fears for this course? (Make sure you share your own!)

Interactive Tutorials

Your Academic Instructional Designer can help create media rich, interactive tutorials from suitable teaching content for inclusion in
your modules. These tutorials might include:

• Drag and drop and hotspot activities
• Quizzes
• Flashcards tasks
• Simulations and role playing
• Audio and video

If you are interested in creating interactive tutorials for your module please contact your AID as soon as possible as this can be a
lengthy and time-consuming process.

Discussion boards

Discussion boards are the easiest way to get a discussion going among your students, replicating the types of discussion you would expect to see in a classroom environment. Always make sure that your discussion board questions are relevant to the topics at hand and that they are set up, seeded and sign-posted. 

Group work

Group work activities might include:

• Group problem-solving
• Brain-storming or mind-mapping
• SWOT analysis
• Creating an online presentation
• Themed discussion groups
• Simulation and games

 Online tools

You could also incorporate online apps, tools and activities into your online module. You may choose to use Google Apps (such as any of the interactive whiteboard or mindmapping apps that have been created), Twitter or other online apps to add depth to your activities. Your Academic Instructional Designer may have suggestions. 

View the DLU Exemplar Module

DLU have completed an exemplar module on MyBeckett that demonstrates an online learning module. It explains the different types of information within a distance learning modules and includes examples of content and activities from a variety of courses. 

To access the module (named "DLU module Shell" in My Beckett), you can email the Distance Learning Unit (distancelearning@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) and request to be enrolled into the module, or follow the steps below: 

1)  Go to the MyBeckett DLU exemplar module

2)  Click the Enrol button at the bottom of the left hand side menu


3) Enter DLU2713 into the Access Code box and click Submit

4) Click OK

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