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Do Instructional Activities - 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).

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 email 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).

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.