Planning learning activities

When planning the content of your lesson, consider the constructivist theories outlined earlier. Remember the content of your session must be constructively aligned to the intended learning outcomes you designed. For example, if you have said that ‘by the end of the lesson students will be able to discuss the pitfalls and drawbacks of the web as a source of quality academic information’, they must be given opportunity to demonstrate they can do this either within or after the lesson or through assessment.

Think about ways you can involve learners and facilitate them to construct their own meaning:

  • As far as possible, enable learners to ‘learn by doing’.
  • Include opportunities for learners to review and reflect on previous learning.
  • Vary your learning activities and change them regularly – a good rule of thumb is to have a new activity at least every 20 minutes, as it is commonly accepted that this is the maximum length of time most people can give their attention to a task.
  • Draw on freely-available resources e.g. videos and learning objects made available under Creative Commons licence.
  • Consider whether the activity requires a learning aid in the form of a handout.

A useful list of ideas for active learning activities can be found the University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence page on Active Learning Activities.

Other active learning methods used in IL:

  • Hands-on activities/tasks: This involves setting tasks and activities which enable students to practise techniques and apply their learning to a realistic task. Ideally, the tasks require students to use their own subject matter.
  • Games: The use of game-based learning is a fairly recent development in Information Literacy, and has been gaining in popularity with practitioners. They can be used in various ways to enliven and add interest to classes and increase student engagement. An example of a freely available information literacy game is Andrew Walsh’s Sources. You can download the file from the web page, and this contains the rules of the game and printable cards. The American Library Association has more information on gamification of information literacy teaching (pdf).


The next section looks at choosing a lesson format.