How to Use Real-World Scenarios in Activity Design

Admit it; we all spend too much time thinking about the perfect activity for our learners.

Why not include real-world scenarios in the activities that we design? By including real-world scenarios, learners find the relevance of the course they are taking with their lives. This, in turn, will motivate them to engage themselves and perform their best in the activity.

As a learner, I love it when the instructor or facilitator uses real-world examples and provides real tasks for me to do.

I remember when I was taking a course on Instructional Design, my instructor asked us to design and develop a learning product for a client.

The interesting part was the client is a real client — an author! We had to transform this client’s children’s storybook into an eBook. My team and I learnt a lot from the experience and I really appreciate my instructor’s effort to help us learn from doing real-world relevant task.

Some of you might think that this is easier said than done.

It seems easy to implement when the learning is being conducted face-to-face. However, you may ask, is it possible to implement it fully online such as on the OpenLearning platform?

My answer is, yes, it is absolutely possible!

Here are a few tips on how to use real-world scenarios in activity design.

Some of them might be more focused on the final activity but you can modify this idea to what is more suitable for your course.

Bring the living world into the online space

When designing an online activity, we could ask the learners to incorporate the world that they live in and share it with their virtual friends.

For example, if the course is about Animal Welfare, we could ask them to find stray animals and to feed them.

Ask them to do this a few times a week, and record a Vlog (video blog), recording their experience and feelings after helping the animals.

The best part, they can actually share the videos with their friends in the online course and connect with others with similar experiences.

Give authentic tasks

Instead of giving tasks just to check their understanding and skills on a superficial level, why not give them a real task that helps them explore the topic deeper? 

For example, if for a Graphic Design course, we can ask learners to help create a poster or a banner for a family member. They could help design an advertisement poster for a friend to find a tenant for their house. Or, design a logo for a family member’s new small business. Or even a digital wedding invite for a friend Learners can share their experiences with their friends along with their finished designs.

As long as the learners do it for a real event and real people, they will feel proud after they have completed the activity.

At the same time, they get to experience what designing for a client’s real project might feel like!

Publish learners’ works

Final activity sharing with the real world is a great motivator for students to perform well.

Since they are aware that their works will be published and be known to the public, they will put in a lot of effort to do it well.

A simple example would be to compile and publish poems written by the whole class of a Poetry course. Learners can share the link to their work with anyone they want. The more people who know about their works, the better!

Such an activity can help spread good messages, such as taking care of the environment, appreciating your loved ones and even healthy self-expression.

As teachers and professionals in the field, we can even help them to sell or promote their work with money collected being donated to a charity. It is both course-work and work experience in one!

Real-world evaluation

Another way to connect learning to the real world is by asking an expert in the field to help assess learner’s works.

Continuing with the poetry course example, we could collaborate with a well-known poet and have them assess and review learners’ poems. This activity could make them feel honoured, knowing that their work has been read and noticed by a notable figure in the industry.

Simple is great

My last tip would be not to underestimate any simple activity.

Something as simple as asking the learners to share a screenshot of their phone, showing their must-have apps in their smartphones, could be a great real-world introductory activity in a Computer Programming or Game Design course.

Learners could discuss their specific app preferences, likes, and dislikes. It can help them break the ice and connect over shared interests which they can continue exploring throughout the course.

How would you include real-world scenarios in your activity design? Share with us in the comments section below! 🙂