7 – Content

Blending Content-Driven Learning Activities

About this chapter

Chapter 7, Blending Content-Driven Learning Activities explains and illustrates how to design and create learning activities that are driven by content in order to enhance flexibility, effectiveness, and engagement — whether online or onsite. This chapter emphasizes learning activities that are backed by research in both modes.

From the guide…

To Do

Many chapters of this guide feature a “to do” item to help you focus your own blended course design:

…Continue to use the course design map (see chapters 4 and 5) as a place to plan and make notes about the kinds of activities that will lead students to perform successfully on assessments, and reach course goals and outcomes.


Some chapters of this guide feature a “reflection” task to activate your background experience to inform your blended course design:

Think back on a complex skill that you have learned, or a concept you have mastered and put into practice. Choose something that you are good at and, indeed, proud of. How did you learn that skill or understanding?

In the case of a skill:

    At what point did you try to do it yourself?

  • How authentic or real-world was the situation in which you first tried it?
  • How did you determine if you’d done well on that first attempt?
  • How important was feedback in helping you try it again and improving?

In the case of knowledge:

  • How did you first recognize that you needed to understand this thing?
  • How did you begin learning about it? Did you ask an expert? Consult a book? Search the web?
  • How did you test the knowledge that began to develop? Did you try to apply the information in social situations, with colleagues, or on a project?
  • What feedback helped you recognize where your understanding was insufficient? How did you know where to go to learn more?

This reflection should help you understand what was personally effective or ineffective in a learning experience. Remember that no two learners are exactly alike, and how quickly you are able to learn something depends in large part on your background knowledge.

References & Readings

Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Edmonton, Canada: Athabasca University Press. Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J. (2006). Efficiency in learning: Evidence-based guidelines to manage cognitive load. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer. deWinstanley, P. A., & Bjork, R. A. (2002). Successful lecturing: Presenting information in ways that engage effective processing. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 89, 19–31. doi:10.1002/tl.44.

Ebert-May, D., Brewer, C., & Allred, S. (1997). Innovation in large lectures: Teaching for active learning. BioScience, 47(9), 601–607.

Holmberg, B. (1999). The conversational approach to distance education. Open Learning, 14(3), 58–60.

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6018), 772–725. doi:10.1126/science.1199327.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86.

Medina, J. (2009). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Muller, D. A. (2008). Designing effective multimedia for physics education (doctoral dissertation). University of Sydney, Australia.