There are many course activities that add substance to the course itself. These activities should allow the student to become more engaged in the course and to feel some sort of gratification after completion of the activities. There are three activities that I choose to present to ‘the class’. One activity is called ‘Aha’. It was developed by Rita-Marie Conrad from Florida State University and its objective was to provide a way for students to share their thoughts in a creative way. The ‘hook’ for this activity is that students are to write down every time they have that ‘Aha moment’ that makes happens when something ‘clicks’ or when they fully understand a certain concept. This activity would be great for my course it deals with a lot of algorithms that often take time to understand.
A second activity is titled ‘Team Problem Solving’. This activity was developed by Robin Lockhart from Midwestern State University. The objective of this particular activity is to provide an interactive way for group problem solving while at the same time increasing classroom discussion. The class is first broken up into small groups and every few weeks the instructor will post a problem for the group to solve. The group then has one to two weeks to solve the problem. The grading is based on not only individual participation but also the result of the group.
Finally, the third activity is one that I have used in my class and I call it ‘Reflection of Interest’. At the start of the year, when the course outline is given out, I tell the students to pick one topic that relates to the course that we are going to cover or even something that will not be covered in class. Everyone picks a different topic and they have roughly three quarters of the school year to work on it. I pick a date near the end of the course for them to present their topic just as they would if they were the teacher. This gives them a chance to do research and it gives them time to reflect their own topic. As an incentive, I tell the class that I will take a question from the best ones and put it on the final exam!
All three of these activities would work well for an online course. When you are teaching students through a CMS or other online format, you need to make sure the students are being engaged all the time. By doing these activities throughout the year, it helps not only with their attention span, but also helps them to retain the material!