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Learning Activities

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Learning activities benefit remote learning students in a variety of ways. Varied learning activities support universal design (UD) by allowing students to access information through a variety of formats. These formats allow students to build connections with the instructional team as well as their fellow students, helping them to feel less isolated. Active learning has been found to increase student performance compared to students in a traditional lecture formatted class. Below are a variety of learning activity ideas and tools to support active online learning at the University of Guelph.  

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Online Discussions 

Discussions are a hallmark of many online courses, regardless of format. This versatile tool can be used to build connections with and between students, answer common questions students have about the course, function as a space for collaboration, and serve as an assessment tool. 

Features of Online Discussions

Features Synchronous Asynchronous
High Level of Interaction with Instructors and Fellow Students yes. no.
Immediate Feedback yes. no.
Receive Instantaneous Answers to Questions yes. no.
Students Can Participate When it Best Fits Into Their Schedule no. yes.
Allows for More Lead Time to Think Before Participating in the Discussion no. yes.
Less Intimidating to Participate no. yes.

Table Key: yes. = yes,  no. = no 

Additional Resources

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Use Cases
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  • Online Debate: Facilitate an online debate using either a synchronous or asynchronous format. Students can be provided a structure that works with the method of delivery (i.e., time limits for live debate sections or deadlines for discussion posts) 
  • Multiple Media Forums: Encourage students to participate in a forum using the Video Note function or including pictures. These under-utilized options can help students better explain their thought process or act as evidence to support a claim. 
  • Fishbowl: Pair synchronous and asynchronous discussions together by using the fishbowl technique. Half the class will participate in a live synchronous discussion while the other half observes. Observing students can share their feedback through an asynchronous forum.  
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Group Work 

Cooperation between students is an important aspect of any course. Student-student interaction is particularly critical for remote delivery, as the lack of face-to-face time can make some learners feel isolated and alone. Students may require extra guidance to facilitate peer-to-peer interactions outside of group assignments. 

Additional Resources

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Use Cases
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  • Group Assessment: Using the PEAR tool, have groups assess their own and their groupmates' contributions to the group project or task, using a rubric with criteria set by you. Set up regular assessments and identify problems early and keep groups productive.
  • Study Groups: Create additional space for students to get together in small, self-defined groups for study. The Video Assignments Group Project option can be used to create virtual spaces where students can meet. 
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Polling Students 

In the face-to-face environment, it is easy to figure out how our students are grasping the content through discussion and response collection with a student response system (SRS). This can be maintained in remote teaching with a little creativity and planning. 

Additional Resources

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Use Cases
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  • Peer Instruction: Peer instruction is an interactive teaching strategy that engages students by having them explore important course concepts and explain them to their peers. While typically seen in face-to-face classes, peer instruction can be replicated asynchronously by pairing pre- and post-quizzes with discussion boards.
  • Diagnostic Assessment: Get a better idea of what your students learned in previous classes, if they completed assigned reading, and activate prior knowledge before beginning a new lesson.
  • Nonverbal Feedback: With many of the web conferencing tools, participants can set a personal status or nonverbal feedback. This lets them indicate to the host and other participants if they are having difficulties, have questions, or even agree/disagree to statements you make. Take advantage of this tool by asking students to set a status while youre lecturing live or immediately after you ask a question. 
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Remote Labs & Simulations 

Hands-on laboratory and simulated experiences are a vital learning opportunity in many university programs.  

Additional Resources

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Use Cases
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  • Research Skills Development: While students might not be able to fully perform an experiment, students can develop important skills such as making predictions, interpreting data, and writing reports.
  • Pre-Lab Quiz: Create a quiz in the Quizzes tool to assess knowledge prior to starting the lab or simulation.
  • Simulated Interviews: Students can practice their interview skills and receive feedback using the Video AssignmentQuestion and Answer option. 
Resources
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