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The following description of the role of learning activities was developed by Don Gillian-Daniel and Erin McCloskey in their course CIRTL Basics of Online Learning and Teaching:

What is the role of learning activities in an online course? [The goal of learning activities is] to engage students in interacting with the content and with each other. Active Learning activities, or methods, range from individual journals to case study groups to class-wide discussions (click here for more ideas of collaborative activities).

Learning activities serve several important functions, including

  • provide a structure for learning
  • accomplish learning objectives
  • deepen concept understanding and application
  • demonstrate and improve skiills
  • support collaborative knowledge building
  • develop compentencies in working in teams
  • gain the learner’s attention and interest
  • trigger reflection or critical thinking
  • create working relationships to support a sense of community

Because of the importance of interactive learning activities, a rule of thumb in designing online instruction is to engage students in activities at least 30 percent of the time. For example, one unit of a course may devote approximately 70% of the unit workload to reading content materials and 30% to participating in learning activities.

Many activities can be adapted to the online environment with any platform. Check out the content repositories section of this website to explore a variety of adaptable activities. Below are descriptions of some activities that are especially well-adapted for blended and online learning.