Online Teaching

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    Design Online Learning Activities
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Teach Online:
Design Online Learning Activities

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What is an online Learning Activity?

An online “Learning Activity” represents what students actually do in the course, both on-and offline tasks and assignments. Whether they read a journal article, a textbook chapter, a lecture, write papers or essays, participate in discussions, take tests, give presentations, conduct surveys, do observations, conduct experiments–these are all learning activities.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (UCF’s TOPR), is an excellent resource for examples of effective, engaging, learner-centered online activities and ideas. Think about instruction in this environment in terms of reconceptualization. Rather than duplicating the traditional classroom environment, rethink your online/remote learning activities to adapt to the options and features—as well as the constraints and limitations—of the online synchronous or asynchronous environments. You may be wondering how to engage students, and keep them motivated and actively involved in your course in an online environment.

Some relevant questions to ask yourself when reconceptualizing the design the learning activities for your course:

  • How do I normally teach? What do my students do?  What types of things do I do in my regular classroom, or teaching environment?
  • Do I lecture, give assignments, require students to read or produce presentations, work in groups, write, take tests, engage in discussions, perform experiments, or special projects?
  • Can my activities be converted and be effective learning experiences for my students, or do I have to re-conceptualize activities to achieve the learning objective in the online medium?
  • What features exist online that do not exist in a traditional classroom setting? Are they appropriate for the course I intend to create? Can they enhance my teaching or the learning experience?
  • What are the limitations and constraints of the online medium?
  • What do I expect my students to accomplish during the course? At the end of the course, what do they need to have produced or have learned? How can I design the learning activities to help my students develop the insights, understanding, knowledge, and ability that are essential to successful completion of my course? What kinds of learning activities in this environment will help them to apply their critical thinking to real world challenges?

Design effective and accessible online activities, interaction & assessments.

Consider Backwards Design

Consider a backwards design approach.

  • What should students be able to know/do? (learning outcomes)
  • How do students provide evidence/demonstrate their understanding/learning? (assessments)
  • What are the learning activities? What is the content? (experiences, engagement, instruction)

Resource: c3Design

Consider Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Use UDL principles (consider accessibility).

  1. Provide multiple means of engagement.
  2. Provide multiple means of representation
  3. Provide multiple means of action & expression.

Ensure Accessibility

Align Course Objectives/Outcomes

An effective online teaching and learning environment starts with well-articulated course learning objectives/outcomes.

Support and Promote Remote Online Inclusion, Equity & Access



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