Section 5.2: Instructional Strategies

Instructional Strategies should be designed to produce a precise learning experience (Horton, p. 38). “Learning activities exercise basic skills, thought processes, attitudes, and behaviors” (p. 38). A simple act does not equate to a learning activity such as clicking a mouse or discussing personal matters in an online forum (Horton). Activities should “support learner progression through the content material and include real world experiences and active learning strategies” (O’Neil, Fisher, Newbold, 2004, p. 88). Students learn by reflecting, applying, synthesizing, constructing, discussing, evaluating, and applying. In addition, learning activities in and of themselves are inadequate to achieve learning objectives. According to Horton, to realize learning objectives, three distinct types of learning activities are required (p. 9):

  • Absorb – the learner absorbs knowledge by reading or watching
  • Do – the learner does practice or discovery activities to deepen learning
  • Connect – learners complete activities designed to connect what they are learning to their lives and work

Absorb Activities

Absorb activities primarily inform, yet they can inspire. They enable motivated learners to obtain crucial information required to advance learning in the classroom or workplace. Absorb activities require learners to read, listen, and watch. Such activities sound passive, but they are an active aspect of learning (Horton, p. 47).

Absorb activities are closest to pure information within the framework of the three types of activities (absorb, do, and connect). Learners must act to extract and comprehend knowledge from absorb activity information. While the learner appears physically passive, they are yet mentally active. Information must be “perceived, processed, consolidated, considered, and judged.” The content, actually the writer/designer of it, is in control. Learners “absorb knowledge offered by the content” (Horton, p. 47).

The following Absorb-type activities have been established in the face-to-face classroom. The following are best practices for incorporating Absorb activities into the online classroom (Horton, p. 47-104; Ko and Rosson, 2004, pp. 48-57; University of Maryland University College, “Teaching/Learning Activities;” Illinois Online Network, “Instructional Strategies for Online Courses”):


Presentation Presentations

Description: The learner watches or listens to a slide show, demonstration, or podcast. Presentations convey information, demonstrate procedures, and model human behavior. Presentations provide key information or salient points (Horton, p. 49). Presentations include instructor lectures, simulations, charts, and graphs. They can be uploaded to and delivered through Blackboard using presentation tools such as PowerPoint and Panopto. Guest lecturers and subject matter experts can also be invited to participate through presentations (Ko and Rosson, 2004, p. 48).

Types of Presentations:

Slide Shows/Multimedia Presentations. An effective slide show uses just enough text and graphics to convey the main points. Slide shows work well for conceptual learning activities such as ideas, theories, principles of information systems, bodies of knowledge. Using a recorded voice narrative allows the instructor to convey more information and reach students who are visually impaired. A narrated slide show such as a PowerPoint presentation is appropriate for taking students through a series of steps (Horton, p. 50).

    1. Best Practices
      1. Improve learning by using relevant visuals to illustrate content. Design relevant visuals based on their functional properties rather than on their surface features (Reiser et al., p. 315). The graphics should carry the load and convey the point when possible. Replace wordy bullet lists with illustrations or diagrams.
      2. Narrate clearly. Make a transcript available for students to later review and for hearing impaired students.
      3. Animate graphics. Show how concepts move and evolve.
      4. Avoid clutter. Do not overload the learner. Add each item at the time when it is discussed (Horton, p. 52).
      5. Consider the “Multimedia Principle.” Students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone (Mayer as cited by Reiser et al., p. 315).
      6. Minimize irrelevant audio. Moreno and Mayer (as cited by Reiser et al.) found learning was better from lessons that omitted music and environmental sounds. Three sources of sounds – narration, environmental sounds and music – overload the limited capacity of working memory (p. 318).

Resources for Online Presentation Development

PowerPoint Tutorials

How to Create Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

Create Presentations on the Web with Prezi

Good and Bad Web Design Features

Instructor Presentations: Lectures in Text Format. Text in the form of web pages is the best choice for converting lecture materials when other forms of presentations or closed captioning are not available. Text on a web page has the advantage that students can copy the materials and make their own notes having more time to reflect on what the instructor has said (Ko et al., p. 49).

    1. Best Practices
      1. Do not create documents that are tediously formal or appear as overly long blocks of text.
      2. Strive for a style between casual speech and formal writing.
      3. Use headings, italics, colors, and other indicators to allow the eye to quickly take in the general idea of the presentation.
      4. Intersperse relevant graphics or present them via links (p. 49).
      5. Link to related resources and other Web sites .

Physical Demonstrations. Physical demonstrations show a person performing a physical task such as how to properly clean a wound. This type of demonstration can be live or recorded as video (Horton, p. 53).

    1. Best Practices
      1. Preview the action. Be sure to state the purpose of the demonstration.
      2. Use close-ups to draw the learner’s attention to individual actions.
      3. Move smoothly and slowly.
      4. Keep the demonstration short. Show a single action or phase of a task. Divide complex tasks into its component actions.
      5. Let learners control the demonstration. For recorded demonstrations, give learners control buttons to replay, stop, pause, etc. the demonstration (p. 53).

Suggestions: Create physical demonstrations using Panopto software and upload to Blackboard. (Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Panopto for instructions on how to download and video presentations with Panopto).

Software Demonstrations. Software demonstrations show an expert performing a complex procedure with a computer program or software (Horton, p. 54).

    1. Best Practices
      1. Introduce the demonstration. Provide a preview of what the student will learn and what the demonstration will cover.
      2. Keep demonstrations simple and to the point. Do not give the learner too many alternatives to perform a task. This will cause confusion.
      3. Make it clear to your students this is a demonstration, not a simulation. Learners just watch during a demonstration.
      4. Follow the demonstration with simulation, a “do-type” of activity, allowing students to practice.
      5. Provide a low-bandwidth alternative with still pictures and a transcript of the narration (Horton, pp. 55-56).

Suggestion: Software demonstrations can easily be captured on the screen using Panopto software and uploaded to Blackboard. (Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Panopto for instructions on how to download and create video presentations with Panopto).

Informational Films. Informational films can include documentary films, now digitalized video.

    1. Best Practices
      1. Borrow it if you can. If possible, re-use an existing documentary film.
      2. Get permission.
      3. Reduce download times by designing for a small video window.
      4. Be aware of bandwidth requirements. For students with a low bandwidth, provide a sequence of still pictures accompanied by the text of the narration or dialog (Horton, p. 57).


Independent Documentary Films

The Media Burn Archive is a collection of over 6,000 independent, non-corporate tapes that reflect cultural, political and social reality as seen by independent producers, from 1969 to the present.

Documentary Films

Using Videos in the Classroom: Pedagogy and The Sociological Cinema

Dramas. Dramas depict people in a fictional scene. Dramas can be used to illustrate an interview or reveal team dynamics.

    1. Best Practices
      1. Write credible dialog. Read your dialog aloud before recording or performing and revise, revise, revise until it sounds right.
      2. Recruit players who can put emotion into their voices and who body language and gestures reinforce what they are saying.
      3. Don’t forget the drama. If the sequence is predictable, there is no drama. Keep the learner wondering how things will work out.
      4. Tell a story. We expect a story with an introduction of characters, a crisis, and a resolution for good or bad (pp. 58-59).

Podcasts/Audio Presentations. Learners can download and play audio presentations on their computers or IPods. Podcasts are often lectures explaining a subject directly.

    1. Best Practices
      1. Keep everything simple. Do not require learners to write anything down. Keep segments to ten minutes.
      2. Make what you say memorable. Repeat. Give mnemonics. Emphasize key points. Post URL’s, names, and other details to Blackboard.
      3. Keep the introduction and closing comments short.
      4. Do not mimic radio. Entertainment podcasts are radio.
      5. Downplay the music.
      6. Keep information current. Publish a reusable, timeless version that does not contain information that is likely to go out of date.
      7. Invest in a good microphone. Speak in an upbeat, emotional voice.
      8. Smooth the flow. Edit out mistakes and long pauses (Horton, 62).

Suggestion: Audio podcasts can easily be created and uploaded to Blackboard. (Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Podcasts (Audacity) for resources on how to create audio files).
A final note on accomodating the learner’s characteristics or learning style with rich media. The single most important factor in learning is the learner’s level of prior knowledge. Mayer (as cited by Reiser et al.) found multimedia presentations which used text, images, and illustrations effectively were helpful to low-knowledge learners and improved learning. High-knowledge learners were found to “learn well under all conditions and able to compensate for poor presentation methods whereas low-knowledge learners are not” (p. 320).


Storytelling Storytelling

Description: “Good instructors often tell stories and effective learners frequently remember stories better than any other part of the course. Such stories are an indispensable part of much soft-skills training” (Horton, p. 70). Words and voice inflection are essential ingredients in face-to-face classroom learning, thus it is important to find ways to include them in the online course. One of the most important uses of audio is to tell stories. Storytelling shows the human dimension of a subject. Stories, as told by the teacher (presented here), are Absorb activities. Stories told by the learner are Connect activities. The instructor should model and provide examples to assist students in developing storytelling skills for connect instructional activities.

Types of Storytelling

Stories told by the instructor. The learner listens to a story told by the instructor or another expert. The learner may be given the opportunity to tell a comparable story. The activity ends with a summarization of the points made within the story. Stories told by the instructor can include:  Hero Stories, Love Stories, Disaster Stories Tragedies, and Discovery Stories (Horton, p. 70).

    1. Best Practices
      • Story is credible.
      • Story is important. The story must make a valid point and is applicable to the topic at hand. It must help accomplish the learning objective.
      • Story is short and focused. In the online classroom, stories should be about one-third or one-half the length of a story told in the classroom.
      • Story is dramatic. The result is not clear until the end of the story. Learners want to know how the story ends.
      • Learners care about the characters. There is a hero the learners can identify with, a victim they can sympathize with, a villain they can despise, and others who make the learner feel joy, fear, or anger.
      • Moral is clear. The learner does not have to ask what the point of the story was, nor is the point made explicit by the storyteller (Horton, p. 76).
      • Storyteller cares. The instructor tells the story with emotion. The voice is well modulated and rhythmical. Use clear language, imagery, and stylistic devices such as metaphors, analogies, alliterations to create vivid mental images. Avoid ambiguous words and euphemisms (Hamilton, 2011, p. 221).



Reading Reading

Description: “Sometimes the best e-learning is a good book . . . or a good e-book” (Horton, p. 78). Reading assignments are important to facilitate greater in-depth study of a topic. Students can be directed to books, e-books, electronic libraries, or individual documents that are well researched, organized, and written. Written documents provide the student with information that is visually organized and constructed in a straightforward sequence. Reading activities are appropriate when careful study and analysis is required. Use reading instructional activities when (Horton, p. 78):

  • Learners need deeper knowledge on a subject.
  • The instructor does not have time to develop more interactive material and have well-written documents readily available.
  • Learners are skillful readers and motivated to read on their own.
  1. Best Practices
    1. Grow your library.
    2. Publish a usage policy.
    3. Simplify obtaining documents.
      1. Link to sales site where learners can order a copy or purchase access.
      2. Link to Amazon (, Barnes & Noble (, or other online bookstores.
    4. When possible provide an online library of examples students can manipulate and use:
      1. Programming code.
      2. HTML, XML, and other tagging languages.
      3. Templates used to create slides, documents, etc.
      4. Forms to print out and fill in.
    5. Provide documentation or tutorials on how to use library resources such as ASU’s electronic databases. Basic Information Literacy Tutorials for students can be found at:
    6. Supplement presentations with reading activities to provide more depth and detail (Horton, pp. 87-89).

It is important to provide multiple examples for Absorb type activities. Many lectures have too much theory and not enough concrete or practical examples. Examples can help students reason from general concepts to specific applications.

Do Activities

Do activities transform information from Absorb activities into knowledge and skills (Horton, p. 105). Do activities require learners to discern, parse, decipher, examine, prove, synthesize, organize, debate, evaluate, condense, refine, and elaborate. Learners apply knowledge through Do activities (Horton).

The following Do-type activities are presented in this section (Horton, p. 105-166; University of Maryland University College, “Teaching/Learning Activities;” Illinois Online Network, “Instructional Strategies for Online Courses;” Carnegie Mellon, “Identify Appropriate Instructional Strategies”):

Practice Practice

Description: Practice activities give learners experience applying information, knowledge, and skills. Practice helps learners strengthen and refine skills, knowledge, and attitudes by applying them and receiving feedback. Practice activities provide learners the opportunity to exercise newly acquired abilities (Horton, p. 106).

Types of Practice Activities

Hands-On. Hands-on activities give learners real work to perform. In a hands-on activity, the learner completes a task outside the lesson, such as performing a calculation with an on-screen calculator, designing something on paper, or operating a piece of machinery. The hands-on activity guides learners through the real-life task, provides feedback on their success, and may test what they learned (Horton, p. 110).

    1. Best Practices
      1. Use gatekeeper tasks. Control advancement to the next step by asking questions about things learners can only observe by successfully performing the current step.
      2. Allow learners to print out instructions and materials they might need if the activity must be performed away from the computer.
      3. Require evidence by having learners submit digital photographs of the results of any hands-on activity the produces visible results. One way to monitor learning of computer skills is to require learners to e-mail screen snapshots of the results (Horton, p. 113).
    Group work/Collaborative Activities. Group task activities are good to teach teamwork—or any skill that is practiced by a group rather than just an individual. Such group activities require learners to work as a coordinated team to share knowledge, make decisions collectively, develop learning communities generally to resolve a single, complex problem (UMUC, “Teaching/Learning Activities”). Group members communicate using online meetings and discussion forums in order to complete their assigned tasks (Horton, p. 121).
    1. Best Practices
      1. Make clear the grading criteria. Will grades be awarded to the class as a whole, to separate teams, or to individuals? Some learners may feel uncomfortable that largely unseen colleagues determine their grades.
      2. Provide a suggested timeline for progress on the project. Lacking face-to-face contact, learners may not feel fully obligated to complete their share of work on time.
      3. Challenge, but do not overwhelm. The goal of a teamwork activity must be appropriately challenging – not too difficult and not too easy.
      4. Virtual teams often require twice as much time to complete a group project as they would together in a face-to-face classroom (Horton, p. 122).
      5. Divide groups into teams of three to five students. Provide a space for each group on Blackboard so that they can communicate and collaborate.
      6. Provide instructions for students on how to use such tools as Wikis, WordPress, Blogs, or other presentation software required to complete and present the project.

Suggestion: Wikis are a Web-based tool that allows the instructor and students (many authors) to work on projects together, share resources, and collaborate. Wikis are a suitable tool for collaboration. (Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Wikis for more information and resources on Wikis).

Resources for Wikis and WordPress

Wikis for Everyone (How to Create a Wiki)

How to Start a Wiki Site

WordPress Download

Get a Free WordPress Blog


Discovery Discovery

Description: Discovery activities lead learners to make discoveries. Use discovery activities for exploratory learning, to reveal principles, trends, and relationships, and to inspire curiosity about a topic. Discovery activities include virtual laboratories, case studies, and role playing activities (Horton, p. 125).

Types of Discovery Activities

Virtual Labs and Field Trips. Virtual labs and field trips include the testing and evaluation information through experiments and examination (UMUC, 2011). Learners can try all kinds of experiments without the risk of damaging equipment or injuring themselves and others in a virtual lab. They can also conduct experiments not possible in even the most generously funded real laboratory (p. 128).

      • Best Practices
        • Challenge learner’s assumptions. Design experiments to challenge what learners believe to be true.
        • Prescribe experiments. Do not just give learners a laboratory and assume they will make up their own experiments. Assign experiments to perform.
        • Reuse your virtual laboratory. Developing a simulated laboratory is a lot of work. Consider using the same laboratory in multiple activities or courses.
        • Use virtual laboratories to prepare students for real-world laboratories by beginning with simple, limited representations of the real lab (Horton, p. 128-129).
        • Approaches to teaching labs resource:

      Suggestion: Second Life is a resource for virtual labs and field trips where numerous worlds have already been designed for students to explore. Also, Second Life allows students to collaborate online. (Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Second Life for more information and resources on Second Life).

      Example of a Virtual Genetics Lab

      SWIFT Project at the University of Leicester Genetics Lab YouTube Video

      University of Leicester Virtual Genetics Lab Second Life Website

      Case Studies. Case studies involve the evaluation of systems by observing and analyzing simulated situations or processes. Case studies provide relevant, meaningful experiences in which learners can discover and abstract useful concepts and principles (Carnegie Mellon, “Case Studies,” para. 1). Case studies are effective discovery activities when learners must actively apply analytical and problem-solving skills to the events cited in the case study. “Cases are the building blocks of problem-solving learning environments,” and can also be categorized as a Connect activity (Jonassen, 2011, p. 184). Case studies are especially well suited for “teaching judgment skills required to cope with ambiguous situations commonly faced in real life” (Horton, p. 131).

      • Best Practices
        • Provide a rich mixture of case materials such as reports, contracts, instruction manuals, drawings, blueprints, spreadsheets, charts, graphs, diagrams, video or audio interviews.
        • Guide study of the case by prompting discovery of critical principles of the case study. Mayer (as cited by Reiser et al.) found “people learn better with guided discovery methods in which the instructor imposes some structure on the task than with pure discovery methods in which students are free to interact as they please” (p. 321). Provide learners with:
        • What the case study shows.
        • What to notice.
        • Questions to answer. They direct learners’ searches and control what discoveries they are likely to make.
        • What to think about. Ask questions that guide learners to think about how the case relates to the subject of the lesson or course (Horton, p. 134).




      Role Playing. Just as children learn how to be an adult through playing to be an adult. Similarly, adult learners can learn by playing the role of someone else requiring the learner to view events from a different perspective. The instructor must state the goal and assign each student with a role to accomplish that goal. Learners must research their roles and collaborate through online discussion forums to play out their roles (Horton, p. 135).

        • Best Practices
          • Introduce the scenario fully
          • Assign roles related to the subject or use generic roles
          • Match the role to the personality and skills of the learner
          • Require learners to use their assigned role names in messages (pp. 138-140).

      Games and Simulations Games and Simulations

      Description: Games and simulations let people learn by playing. Studies conducted by Clark and Mayer (as cited by Reiser et al.) found simulations help students learn. Also, a study conducted by Moreno, Mayer, Spires, and Lester (as cited by Reiser et al.) “reported students learned better from a computer-based game designed to teach environmental science than when the identical material was presented as a tutorial with onscreen text and illustrations” (p. 320). Games and simulations allow learners to practice tasks, apply knowledge, and learn principles while having fun. Learning games can be designed in the form of quiz shows, board games, and video games to inspire curiosity. Most importantly, when real-world tasks present real dangers, simulations allow learners to perform such tasks without the risks of being harmed or injured (Horton, p. 141).

      Types of Learning Games and Simulations

      • Quiz-show games
      • Word puzzles
      • Jigsaw puzzles
      • Adventure games
      • Software simulations
      • Device simulations
      • Personal-response simulations
      • Mathematical simulations
      • Environmental simulations
        • Best Practices for Games and Simulations
          • Emphasize learning, not just acting. Make sure your games require applying the requisite knowledge and skills.
          • Simulate thought-processes, not just physical actions.
          • Avoid arbitrary limitations on how the learner accomplishes the goal. If there are three ways to do the task in the real work, allow three ways in the games.
          • Challenge learners. A technique for challenging all learners is called scaffolding and fading. Scaffolding refers to the support provided to the learner to ensure they succeed. As learners learn the task, reduce scaffolding or support so they work more independently.
          • Explain the game clearly – the goals, roles, how to get started, and rules of the game.
          • Provide multiple ways to learn by linking to text documents.
          • Manage competitiveness. Design the game or activity for learners to cooperate rather than compete (p. 160-164).

      Connect Activities

      Connect activities help students apply learning to new situations they will encounter in the workplace and in their personal lives. “Connect activities bridge gaps by tying together previously learned skills and knowledge” (Horton, p. 167). The learner will gain higher-level knowledge and skills through connect activities. To determine if an activity is a Connect-type, it must “link” to and require previous knowledge or cue application of learning. Reflection and ill-structured real world problems are common Connect-type activities.
      The following Connect-type activities are presented in this section (Horton, p. 167-214; University of Maryland University College, “Teaching/Learning Activities;” Jonassen, 2011):

      • Reflection
      • Job Aids
      • Guided research
      • Problem solving (ill structured problems)

      Think Reflection

      Description: Reflection activities are simple learning experiences that prompt the leaner to examine ideas from a new perspective. Reflection activities encourage broader and more in-depth thought about a topic, and they can promote conceptual breakthroughs by getting learners to integrate separate ideas in new and different ways (Horton, p. 170).

      Types of Reflection Activities

      • Rhetorical questions ask thought provoking questions to direct attention to an aspect of the subject.
      • Meditations promote a relaxed, open consideration of the subject.
      • Cite-example activities require the learners to identify real-world instances of a concept or category.
      • Evaluations ask learners to judge the importance or value of an item under study (p. 170).
      • Summary activities require learners to identify and recap important principles, concepts, facts, tips, and other items of learning (p. 171)
        • Best Practices
          • Ask stop-and-think questions
          • Clarify the purpose of the activity
          • Require searching to find examples
          • Specify the type of reflections sought by showing a few examples as a model
          • Encourage personal examples
          • Set a context for the evaluation
          • Require criteria. Have learners state the criteria they used to judge the idea.
          • Require precision (pp. 172-181).


      Suggestion: Blogs are a great tool for students to post and log private reflections. Permission settings can be modified to allow only the instructor and/or classmates to access, read, and comment. For more information on how to set up a free blog, refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Blogs.

      Guided ResearchGuided Research

      Description: Research is an essential skill. Memorization of facts and data will not suffice in most fields. Guided research coaches learners to how to perform research. In individually or in teams, conduct research by gathering, analyzing, evaluating, organizing and reporting on findings. Research skills, methodology, evaluation and reporting, quantification, synthesis, and skill development are the objective of guided research activities (UMUC, 2011).

      • Best Practices for Guided Research (Horton, p. 202)
        • Assist learners in locating reliable sources of information.
        • Emphasize the importance of evaluating, selecting, and organizing facts.
        • Use probing questions to guide research.
      • Best Practices for Research Activities – ensure that research activities connect learners to life and prior learning (Horton, pp. 202-203).
        • Emphasize locating sources of information and the process of analyzing data, not just the results that answer individual questions.
        • Offer learners multiple sources of information to choose from and require them to consult multiple sources.
        • Require analysis and synthesis to teach learners to apply what they gathered through research.

      Problem Solving Puzzle PieceProblem Solving

      Description: Problem Solving activities require the learner to apply what they have learned to develop a viable solution or solution paths to a complex, real-world problem. Problem solving helps students connect theories and take responsibility for knowledge. Problem solving requires deductive powers, inferential reasoning, testing assumptions, and decision making skills (UMUC, “Instructional Strategies”). Jonassen (2011) argues that the:
      The only legitimate cognitive goal of education (formal, informal, or other) in every educational context (public schools, universities and [especially] corporate training) is problem solving. Problem solving is the most authentic and therefore the most relevant learning activity that students can engage in. Research has shown that knowledge constructed in the context of solving problems is better comprehended, retained, and therefore more transferable (p. 1)
      Types of Problem Solving Activities

      • Story Problems. Story problems are the most common kind of problem encountered by students in formal education. Story problems are normally solved by identifying key values in the short scenario, selecting the appropriate algorithm, applying the algorithm to generation a quantitative answer (Jonassen, p. 27).
      • Decision-Making Problems. Decision making is the most common form of problem solving in everyday life. We make countless decisions every day, many without conscious awareness. The various types of decisions we make are choices, acceptances, rejections, evaluation, and constructions (Yates & Tschirhart as cited by Jonassen, p. 49).
      • Troubleshooting and Diagnosis Problems. Troubleshooting is the most common type of problem solving. Troubleshooting is normally linked with the repair of physical or mechanical systems. However, organizational ombudsmen, such as employee-relations managers, customer-relation specialists, consumer advocates, public-relations specialists, and human-resource directors are troubleshooters (p. 77).
      • Strategic-Performance Problems.  Complex, dynamic decisions that frequently must be made by experienced practitioners under conditions of time-induced stress such as military commanders leading troops in battle while under fire or an arbitrator conducting negotiations among litigants (p. 106).
      • Policy-Analysis Problems. Complex, ill-structured decision-making problems that normally are not time pressured. Policy problems usually involve a host of city planners, policy analysts, community managers, local, state, and national legislators, citizens, agency leaders, and many other stakeholders, most of whom have fundamentally different positions of an issue (p. 122).
        • Best Practices for Designing Problem Solving Activities (Jonassen, p. 154)
          • Problem solving requires intentional learning. Human behavior is goal-driven. Goals for solution should be made clear for meaningful learning.
          • Design authentic problem-solving tasks which apply to students’ lives, current or future jobs. Students will be more likely to retain knowledge learned from solving an authentic, real-world problem.
          • Require learners to:
            • verify, define, and detail the problem
            • establish evaluation criteria
            • identify alternative solution paths
            • evaluate alternative solutions
            • display and distinguish among alternatives solutions
      • Require learners to make decisions made at critical junctures in a real project.
      • Provide learners with an online journal or require a blog where they can collect decisions and reflections into an ongoing document that they can review and take away at the end of the course.
      • Design problem solving activities to be student-centered. Faculty cannot dictate learning.
      • Design the problem solving activities to be self-directed where students individually and collaboratively assume responsibility for generating learning issues and processes. Students can accomplish this through self-assessment and peer assessment, as well as accessing their own learning materials.
      • Include a self-reflective component where learners monitor their understanding and learn to adjust strategies for learning.

      Suggestion: Blogs and Wikis are excellent tools allowing instructors to design complex problem scenarios and students to collaborate and design a viable solution path(s). Refer to Section Three: Online Learning Tools/Wikis or Blogs for more information and resources on how to use these tools.