Does your online course have just the right mix of instructional and actionable learning content? Is your course merely explaining or actually teaching? Are you immersing your students in deeply engaging learning experiences?
These are important questions because getting just the right mix of learning content for an online course can be really challenging. This is especially true if you have no professional experience or education in teaching, training or instructional design for online learning.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you.
Creating a balanced mix of engaging learning experiences for students enrolled in our online courses doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
With a ready mix of learning activity types at your disposal, you can easily create a balanced course that offers more than just explainer videos and fillable worksheets.
Best of all, you can do this without spending gobs of time and money, and without having to go back to school to earn a degree or certification.
Before we get started, download my free Top 10 Online Learning Activities Cheatsheet.
In this post, I’ll walk you through five of the ten activity types featured in the cheatsheet. These learning activities are guaranteed to add pizzazz to your online courses and promote your students’ learning.
By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to balance your course with a winning mix of learning activities that will rock your online teaching and wow your students.
Ready? Let’s do this!
5 Ways to Spice Up Your eCourse Content
A simulation is a powerful teaching technique that models or replicates a real experience in a guided, structured manner.
Let’s say you offer a web design course with a module on “Working with Clients”. You could have your students pair up and engage in a simulated conversation to experience what it’s like to talk with a client about his/her website needs.
For this conversation, which could be done by phone or video call, one student will take on the role of “web designer’ and the other will take on the role of “client”. The students will run through the simulation, and then they can reverse roles. This way each student will have the opportunity to experience the simulated conversation from both the perspective of a web designer and a client.
2. Case Based Scenarios
Case based scenarios are similar to simulations in that they use a situation as a context for learning by analysis and problem-solving.
My client Jenna, a life coach, created a course on overcoming procrastination. She used a series of animated videos illustrating characters grappling with various issues of procrastination. At the end of each video, Jenna posted questions for students to respond to in the course discussion forum. These questions guided students to analyze and offer solutions for issues illustrated by the videos.
3. Field Assignments
Field assignments are a great way to make learning in your courses actionable. One of my clients is a natural horsemanship instructor.
Her course features a number of field assignments so that students can take the horse training techniques they learn in her course into the arena with their horses.
Makes sense, right?
4. Lab Activity
We all remember completing lab activities in our high school biology and chemistry classes. Labs are all about experimentation. They are a pragmatic type of learning activity to add to an online class, particularly for courses in which students will benefit greatly from guided practice followed by observation and analysis.
Let’s say you are teaching an online copy writing course. You could assign students a copy writing lab assignment that instructs them to compose two different versions of home page web copy for an automotive service center website. You could then instruct your students to poll their classmates, or their Facebook friends, to determine which version of their home page copy was more effective in prompting a call to action featured on the home page. Finally, students could write up the results of their ‘experiment’ as a lab report to conclude the activity.
As you can see, a lab activity offers a very powerful type of learning experience.
5. Live Learning Activity
Adding even just one or two scheduled live events to an otherwise self-paced online course can greatly boost its value to your students. By including live learning activities as an additional feature of your online course(s), you will be able to promote your courses more competitively, and you will be able to charge a higher registration fee for your course.
Some suggestions for live learning activities and events include:
- Online Workshops
- Online Symposiums
- Virtual Panel Discussions
- Online Work Sessions
- Online Demonstrations
- Online Q&A Sessions
As you can see, learning content in an online course can consist of far more than just a series of instructional videos and a downloadable workbook.
By varying your course content and activity types, you’ll keep your students more engaged and retain more of your students.