Learning Activities

The use of learning activities in higher education is as important and relevant as it is in primary and secondary settings. When used appropriately, they generate the right conditions for learning, fostering and nurturing new understanding, behaviours, values, skills and attitudes.

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Active Learning

Involves activities in which learners take an active and participatory role in the learning process in order to construct knowledge and understanding; but more than just simply doing something, it is also about thinking about what they are doing.

As Schuell, 1986, p.429 clearly explains:

“the teacher’s fundamental task is to get students to engage in learning activities that are likely to result in achieving the intended learning outcomes. It is helpful to remember that what the student does is actually more important than what the teacher does”

What Schuell was referring to was simply about active learning as opposed to passive learning, Therefore, we want you to think of learning activities as active learning activities.

Examples of Active Learning

Involves activities in which learners take an active and participatory role in the learning process in order to construct knowledge and understanding; but more than just simply doing something, it is also about thinking about what they are doing.
Activity Name Description Tool
Pause for Reflection Throughout a lecture, particularly after stating an important point or defining a key concept, stop presenting and allow students time to think about the information. After waiting, ask if anyone needs to have anything clarified. Ask students to review their notes and ask questions about what they’ve written so far. Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

 

Triad Groups

Pose a question for each group while you circulate around the room answering questions, asking further questions, and keeping the groups on task. After allowing time for group discussion, ask students to share their discussion points with the rest of the class. Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

 

Group Evaluations

Like peer review, students may evaluate group presentations or documents to assess the quality of the content and delivery of information. Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

Canvas Discussion Boards

Hands-on Technology Students use technology to get a deeper understanding of course concepts. Any technology learners must learn to use as part of their course.
Inquiry Learning Activities Students use an investigative process to discover concepts for themselves. After the instructor identifies an idea or concept, a question is posed that asks students to make observations. Canvas Discussion Boards

Canvas Studio Videos

Padlet

Jigsaw Discussion A topic is divided into smaller, interrelated pieces. Each member of a team is assigned to read and become an expert on a different topic. After each person has become an expert on their piece of the puzzle, they teach the other team members about that puzzle piece. Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

Video Discussions Ask students to comment on a video they are required to watch. Canvas Studio Videos

Canvas Discussion Boards

Polls Use polls to check understanding, gather student opinions, or to challenge students position on something. Collaborate Ultra Poll (does not keep data)

GoSoapBox

Poll Everywhere

Mentimeter

Slido

H5P

Video activities Ask students to respond to a question or a simple research activity with a video. Canvas Discussion Boards

Canvas Studio Videos

Padlet

Virtual Field Trips Ask students to explore a virtual field trip which is a guided exploration through the world wide web that organizes a collection of pre-screened, thematically based web pages into a structured online learning experience. Several websites available online
Concept Maps Use concept maps to visually represent information and concepts MS Whiteboards

MindMeister

Mindmup

Canva

Lucidchart

Explain Everything

Padlet

Think-pair-share Use TPS to get students to work together to solve a problem or answer a question Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

Minute papers During a brief pause, students alone or in pairs are asked to answer a question in writing about the weekly content. The submitted responses can be used to gauge student comprehension of the material. Collaborate Ultra breakout rooms

MS Team breakout rooms

Quizzes Quizzes can be used at the beginning of a session or after delivery Canvas Quiz

Quizlet

Kahoot

Google Forms

MS Forms

H5P

Socrative

Muddiest Point The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: “What was the muddiest point in [the lecture, discussion, homework assignment, film, etc.]?” The term “muddiest” means “most unclear” or “most confusing (Vanderbilt University) Collaborate Ultra

MS Teams

Real world case studies and problem solving Students work in groups, applying knowledge gained from lectures or reading materials to a given situation Collaborate Ultra

MS Teams

Peer Led Instructions Have students prepare and present course material to the class Collaborate Ultra

MS Teams

Narrated PowerPoint Slides

Post-It Demonstration Students provide their thoughts and ideas to a question or prompt on a post-it. MS Whiteboard

MIRO

IdeaBoardz

Padlet

Pros and Cons Grid Get students to list advantages and disadvantages on some issue. Shared MS Document

Shared Google Document

MIRO

MURAL

MS Whiteboard

CU Whiteboard

Question-discussion *quescussion This activity involves the exploration of a topic or concept by asking questions only. Shared MS Document

Shared Google Document

MIRO

MURAL

MS Whiteboard

CU Whiteboard

Content Curation Ask students to curate relevant, meaningful and current resources on a topic Wakelet

Padlet

Strip Sequence Provide student with the steps to a process in a disorganised way and ask them to reconstruct the proper sequence Canvas Quiz

H5P

Bloom Taxonomy Questioning Use the verbs remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create to design questions. TopHat Innovative Activities to Engage Your Students
Brainstorming/Thinking Techniques You can use some brainstorming/thinking tools to brainstorm and generate ideas with your students using the templates Double Bubble Map with perspective

SWOT Analysis

Starbursting

KWHL Chart

 

Tips to promote engagement

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If students are resistant to engaging in activities:

  • Introduce the concept early in the course and clearly specify expectations and roles for each activity. 
  • Explain reasons and connection to assessments and further learning. 
  • Use a variety of active learning strategies in a targeted way, e.g. include several of the activities during a session If activities are taking too much time. 
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If students are taking too much time:

  • Consider whether the task can be shared between peers. 
  •  Consider how pre-class work could prepare students. 

If students are resistant to group work:

  • Consider whether if the activity is challenging enough to need two or more working together. 
  • Ensure the activity requires different perspectives and experience. 
  • Make group work a regular experience, with expectations and required participation.