CYP RCA/Workshops/Workshop 1/Draft Workshop Plan/Learning Activities

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Learning Activities

Learning Activities Handout

An Excerpt

Course design and development is a people-oriented activity that calls for creativity and innovation.


All instructional designers agree on the need for effective planning of the design and development process. The success of this process largely depends on the preparation of a document, often called a plan or a blueprint, with essential elements such as clear indications of what will be done, who will do it and by when. These are added to the general description, which has the usual study elements of content, assessment and time schedules. The following outline provides brief descriptions of the parts of a typical plan. Note that for the plan to be of most use, it should be treated as a working document that is regularly updated as changes occur in the development and production phases.


This should provide a brief overview of what is in the plan, along with any necessary background information.

Key Questions

The staff (i.e., the instructors)

This section should list those involved and answer the following key questions:

  • Who will be developing and teaching the course?
  • What support staff will be involved?
  • What will the respective roles of the team members be?
  • Who will be the project's coordinator?

The students (i.e., the learners)

This question needs to be carefully considered and should address the following:

  • Who will be studying the course?
  • What are their expected backgrounds and learning needs?
  • What learning experiences will they bring to their study?
  • What support and preparation in adapting to flexible learning will they require?

Subject description

This section should first outline any necessary institutional requirements, like the subject title, points value, level and prerequisites. The subject's relation to the rest of the course should be explained. Subject content and the approach should be briefly outlined. This information will often be readily available in existing course approval documents.

Aims and objectives

The aims are the overall goals for student learning. The objectives are more specific, setting out what learners should be able to do, understand and value after completing their study. Well-designed objectives can provide a basis for later construction of assessment items. This section can also include an outline of ways in which individual aims and objectives, set by the learners themselves, will be met. Note that the term "learning outcomes" will sometimes be used rather than "objectives". Though there are differences (Kandlbinder, 1997), they are often used interchangeably.

Content outline

This shows what the students are expected to learn in order to meet the aims and objectives. The content outline can be a list of specific main topics and sub-topics, which for a modularised course can be presented under the module headings. It can also be a diagram illustrating the relationship between major concepts.

The learning environment

This vital component determines what teaching and learning methods will be employed for students to achieve the objectives. The learning environment determines how the students are going to learn the content. By addressing this challenge, development teams can move well beyond simply presenting content and devising tests to check students' understanding. Consideration can be given to the overall approach, focusing on the learning activities or the process rather than the content. Examples of ways the learning environment can be constructed include problem-based learning, case study approaches, clinical teaching, experiential learning, videoconferencing and computer-based learning.

A useful device in designing the learning environment is to construct an organisational outline that shows the essential components of the subject, along with how they fit together. As well as describing the learning resources (online elements, multi media resources, print-based materials or lectures), it should clearly indicate the relationship between the key components. This can be done as a table, which lists the learning resources and shows the amount of time that learners are expected to spend with each resource during their study. Its value lies in its ability to show the expected total study time of the learners, and to identify areas where learning demands might exceed available time.

The structure of the table will depend on the components of the learning environment. Table 1 shows the anticipated study hours for a subject that has a base of printed study materials, along with online learning materials and a discussion group for interaction. Note that the students' independent study time should also be taken into consideration.

For more, please see: Instructional Design for Self-Learning for Distance Education