26 Learning Activities

Courses are composed of different types of learning activities. From attending a lecture, reading a book, watching a video, and engaging in a discussion, to completing a self-test, writing a reflection, or researching an essay, students are engaged in learning activities. Learning activities are everything students do as they participate in the learning process.


Photos, via Pexels

In general, we break down learning activities broadly into two types: active and passive.

Active learning activities are interactive; students learn through practice and the application of their skills. Passive learning activities happen to the student. Students receive information from their professors, usually in the form of a lecture, and the student’s role is just to listen. Passive learning does not promote deep learning; it can even disempower students.

Often, we can often reimagine passive learning activities in more active ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Turn a lecture into a series of short, focused videos (less than 10 minutes is best!) on just essential information
  • Break up a lecture with discussion questions and opportunities to ask questions
  • Make the students the experts and ask them to summarize and/or present what they have read
  • Incorporate discussion questions into any longer lecture period
  • Provide ample opportunities to practice problems, case studies, group work and collaborative activities during class meetings
  • Add a reading quiz after students complete their readings

Our learning activities are most successful when we think about them in the context of our learning goals and our strategy for engagement and feedback. We want students to be actively engaged in creating a learning community with us. Every time we ask students to do something, we need to make sure that what they are doing lines up with our broader course plan.



Download the Learning Activities Template. Use this to write out the activities you are planning.

Guiding Questions

  • What activities can you place in your course to advance your students toward your course goals?
  • Why do you use a particular activity? How does it relate to your broader course goals?
  • What qualities or abilities do students need to develop first in order to be prepared to advance toward the course goals?



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Online Course Development Copyright © 2022 by Teaching and Learning Centre, Mount Saint Vincent University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book