5. Designing great activities

Guide: Content & Activities - Contents

  1. Start with learning outcomes
  2. Setting up your course modules
  3. Understanding course pages
  4. Adding content and resources
  5. Designing great activities
  6. Setting up your course homepage
  7. How do I use page templates and learning design patterns?


High quality learning activities:

  1. Are relevant to the learning outcomes
  2. Are relevant to course and page topics
  3. Capture learners' interest, intrinsic motivation and foster enjoyment in learning
  4. Enable interaction and social learning among learners (e.g. discussions, sharing, group work, projects)
  5. Enable learners to connect concepts authentically to their own world
  6. Allow learners to reflect on their learning
  7. Invite learners to apply concepts in personally meaningful ways
  8. Encourage self-expression and open-ended contribution (e.g. using share widgets, such as share text, share an image, share a file, post a comment)

- OpenLearning Course Quality Criteria

Now that you are clear on the content and resources you would like learners to learn about in each module, it's time to design some great learning activities.

Learning activities are experiences you design, that enable learners to more deeply understand a topic. The best activities are ones where learners are active - e.g. where they are sharing, discussing, creating, constructing, reflecting, applying.

Watching videos, reading written content, listening to podcasts and reading articles (which we covered in Content and Resources) are also forms of activity, but they are more on the passive end. Deep learning happens with activities where the learners are active and doing.

For example, in the Sustainable Thinking course, some learning activities where learners are active might be:

  • Getting learners to review all of the products in their pantry and audit them based on their sustainable practices
  • Getting learners to track their ecological footprint for 24 hours and write a reflection
  • Getting learners to design and pitch a product or service that supports sustainability

3 steps to activity design


1. Start with your learning objective

What do you want to achieve with the learning experience? This is your learning objective - it's the why of the activity. (It should connect to your learning outcome/s)

2. Brainstorm all the possible activities

Once you've decided on your activity's learning objective, there might be a number of different ways you could design the experience to achieve it.

Some activity types could be:

  • reflections
  • role plays
  • scenarios
  • discussions
  • creating something
  • applying concepts to a particular interest project

3. Choose the best learning experience

Now that you have a list of all possible activities, you need to choose the best learning experience or experiences to achieve your learning objective.

Put yourself in the shoes of your learners. What would they find fun, meaningful, and relevant to their lives? Which activity fits best?

Tip! Coming up with the best activity can take some time, so don't rush this step.

How to create activities in OpenLearning via widgets

Widgets are the basic building blocks of a page.

You can use widgets to add text, media, activities, project galleries, feeds, and much more. Most of our widgets are interactive and can be used to engage learners in active learning.

Step 1

Go to the page you would like to add an activity to and click Edit

Step 2

Select the widget you would like to use (we recommend Share widgets!) and drag the widget onto the page

Step 3

Update the settings on the widget as required


Learn more about widgets

OpenLearning offers a wide range of widgets which are added to and improved on a regular basis. Learn how to make the most of them here:  

What are widgets and how do I use them?


Next: Setting up your course homepage



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