The learning activity is the main focus of our learning design process. It offers a basis for the integration of instructional strategies into the learning context, and informs the decisions, information, resources and tools necessary to implement it.

A learning activity is defined as “a specific interaction of learner(s) with other(s) using specific tools and resources, oriented towards specific outcomes” (Beetham and Sharpe, 2013).

All of the instructional strategies explored in the Learn section of V.I.D.A. were necessary to support a more coherent approach to learning design, such as the one exemplified in Goodyear’s (1999) pedagogical framework for Networked Learning (Figure 1). The intent is to provide you with enough information on pedagogical strategies to serve as a source that facilitates your selection of the interacting elements in your educational setting. In other words, the goal is to help you automate your knowledge of theory, so that it is easier for you to understand how to transform your content into activities that can be enhanced with the use of educational technology.

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Figure 1: Pedagogical frameworks: internal structure and relations to tasks and activity (Goodyear, 1999) 

This space is intended to help you design your learning tasks in a manner that ensures constructive alignment and is informed by evidence-based strategies likely to expedite learning. But first, let’s review some important considerations about how people learn.

General Theoretical Considerations for Design

(Taken from Beetham & Sharpe, 2013 pp. 301-302)

People learn more effectively when:

  1. They are actively engaged. Base learning around tasks with the emphasis on learning outcomes, rather than around content to be covered.
  2. They are motivated. Communicate desired outcomes clearly and relate these to learners’ long-term goals. Where appropriate, allow choices over elements of the learning activity and link topics to personal experiences or interest of learners.
  3. Their existing capabilities are brought into play. Revisit prior knowledge and skills at the start. Recognize and exploit learners’ existing capabilities e.g. through collaborative work, shared knowledge-building.
  4. They are appropriately challenged. Provide support and scaffolding for new activities. Offer more challenging extension activities as an option. Give options for learners with different capabilities and preferences.
  5. They have opportunities for dialogue. Establish opportunities for dialogue with tutors, mentors and peers during the task. Recognize and reward collaboration as well as autonomy. Consider how dialogue can be maintained using online communication channels between instructional sessions.
  6. They receive feedback. Ensure tutor feedback at timely points, e.g. after first assignment, after a key session, during revision. Design tasks to give intrinsic feedback if possible. Consider self or peer feedback as an alternative to tutor feedback. Foster skills of self-evaluation. Ensure learners have examples of successful student work to compare against their own efforts.
  7. They have opportunities for consolidation and integration. Encourage further practice of key capabilities. Record the processes of learning, so learners can see how they perform. Promote skills of reflection and planning, e.g., through portfolios, action planning, online notebooks or journals, voice recordings of self-explanations, etc.