What Will Learners Do?
While it’s pretty easy to ponder what you’ll teach and how, it’s more difficult but just as important to think about what your learners will be up to as you teach. Even in passive teaching strategies such as lectures, think about whether you want your learners to be doing anything. For example, making notes, writing definitions in their own words, creating mind maps, thinking about how the content applies to their own context.
Not all learners will naturally do what you might think might be obvious when trying to learn content, and so it can be useful to be clear on what you intend learners to do while you're teaching. If you’re demonstrating, tell them to follow along and pause the video if they need to. If you’re modelling, get them to critically think about its flaws and using it in their context. If you are sharing stories, get them to think about whether they’ve experienced anything similar. This is how you can turn passive learning into more active learning.
By getting learners to do things you are creating activities. Activities can be as simple as ‘follow and copy this demonstration’, ‘write in your own words xyz’ or ‘make notes on how this fits into your context’. And as complex as ‘conduct and share research’ or ‘complete a problem based scenario’.
Your activity or activities should allow learners to put their learning into action and check whether they can achieve the learning outcomes of your lessons. But be remember, learners are more engaged when they feel capable… so don’t make it too difficult for your target learner.

How To Maximise Learner Participation

More complex and difficult activities require some planning. Consider implementing activity elements to maximise the likelihood of learner participation. Based on the work of Gilly Salmon’s E-tivities framework we devised six beneficial activity elements, (shown in the Table 2 and explained further below) that can lead to activity success. Their use can make learners feel more capable and motivated, so more likely to have a go.

Table 2: Six Beneficial Activity Elements For Complex Activities

Title of Activity
  • Short, enticing description of task.
  • Be creative but keep it short.
Time Required
  • Tell learners how long it will take to complete the activity.
  • Be generous!
  • Present activity stimulus and invite learners to react.
  • Link to lesson topic.
  • Link to how this will be useful throughout the course
  • Make sure the activity purpose links to your learning outcomes.
  • Use verbs!
  • Clear, concise instructions on what individual learners must do.
  • Specify exactly what you expect the learner to do, in what medium (e.g. The Club, blog, Google doc etc.) and the length of their contribution.
  • Request each learner to respond to their peers.
  • Be clear on what kind of response, how many responses and how long each response should be.
Each element in the framework is important for activity success:
  • The title is useful for grabbing learners’ attention and increasing motivation, you can afford to be creative and humorous with it.
  • The time required is essential to allow learners to allocate time in their schedules to complete it. You should be generous with the amount of time you suggest it will take. It will always take longer than you think. If your estimate is too short, learners can easily become demoralised if they find it’s taking them much longer. If in doubt test your activity out on others to see how long it takes.
  • The introduction is really important. It is here where you spark the intrigue of your learners, set the scene for the activity, link to the lesson topic and, potentially, how this task will be useful through the course. Present stimulus such as a challenge, problem, model, data, reference, reading, audio, video etc. and invite learners to react by giving views, further information or reflection. Use emotive language to peak interest.
  • The purpose of the activity is where you tell learners what they will get out of completing the activity and how it will benefit them. Note: this is the main element that will determine whether learners participate. In a sentence or two, the task has to be made relevant and of benefit for learners to be bothered to take the time to complete it. The purpose of this activity should link to your lesson learning outcomes.
  • Contribute is where you give individuals step by step instructions of what you expect them to do in the activity. Failure for this to be clear will result in no participation.
  • Respond is what you would use if you were trying to encourage discussion and peer feedback. It’s where you get learners to respond to one another's contributions and where deeper learning can occur.
Once you have established the activities, be them simple or more complex, that you want your learners to do as you teach; make notes of this in your lesson plan under ‘What Learners Will Do’.

Resources To Support Learners

If you decide to use activities, you should consider what resources your learners may need to support them in completing them. For example:
  • Instruction guides to install any prerequisite tools/software,
  • Cheat sheets,
  • Scenario sheets and data,
  • Links to The Club, our forum,
  • Links to supporting websites, blogs, games etc.
You may also want to consider extension activities or readings for the uber keen or advanced learners in your lessons. If you do, make it clear it’s an extension activity.
Once you have worked out the resources your learners will need, add this to your lesson plan under ‘Materials And Resources’ column.

Consider Some Reflection

Reflection is a process that promotes deep learning and involves learners critically thinking about and analysing what they’ve done or are currently doing. Reflection doesn’t come naturally to all learners and so prompts to reflect or reflection activities could be useful in your lessons.
There are two types of reflection: reflection-in-action and reflection-of-action (according to David Schön, that is!).
  • Reflection-in-action describes learners reflecting during an activity where thinking can still benefit the outcome.
  • Reflection-of action describes learners reflecting after an activity or lesson is complete; contemplating on their own thought processes (metacognition), what they did well, what they’d do next time, how the new knowledge fits into their current knowledge etc.
Both forms have their merits and reflection is a very powerful learning tool for getting learners to put the learning into a personal context, to organise and consolidate learning into existing knowledge.
Reflective learning is easily achieved in online environment through the use of digital tools such as a blogs, wikis, journals or even shared on forums like our The Club for peers to give feedback on… simple pen and paper works too!
If you decide to include reflection elements in your lessons, check the relevant boxes in the ‘Reflection’ row.
Last modified 2yr ago