Activity Overview

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Explore the needs of diverse adult learners
  • Identify benefits and challenges of online learning
  • Discuss potential instructor responses to support learning
Timeframe and Mode

This asynchronous activity will take place over 5 days of the course.

Overview of Activity

The focus this week is the needs of diverse adult learners in the online learning environment - what are some of the differences - benefits / challenges of learning online? What are some of the needs that diverse adults might experience online? What can a facilitator do to support learning?

Part 1
Your team should provide some foundation for the topic this week to the participants. Either assign reading(s) from the list of Relevant Readings and Resources in this document OR write/create something that “sets the scene” for the activity. (Hint: Keep that "thing" very small and manageable for the participants.)

Part 2
Ask participants to explore (either individually or in small groups) three perspectives of an organizational framework which will broaden and deepen the discussion around the needs of adult learners online. The three perspectives of this framework are: Social Issues, Intellectual Issues, and Management of Environment Issues. Each perspective could be represented by a coloured bucket and includes a series of questions to guide discussion. The intent is to encourage deeper analysis than an open discussion of the topic as a large group might provide.

Yellow Bucket - Social    

  •     Some learners prefer to learn "quietly" - is it an issue? Why or why not?
  •     How do learners feel safe - what level of risk is acceptable?
  •     How can learners be helped to form connections and community in the course?

Blue Bucket - Intellectual    

  •     How much effort can you spend building community in a content-heavy course?
  •     How can learners be kept aware of their progress through the learning activities in a course?
  •     How do we evaluate learners within our courses?

Red Bucket - Management   

  •     How can learners be encouraged to explore the learning environment?
  •     What should happen before a course starts?
  •     What supports could be in place to help learners manage workload?

Think about how to capture or summarize the main points that participants discuss.

Part 3
Next, ask the participants to refocus on three additional questions that target the intended learning outcomes:

  •     What supports do diverse learners need in online learning environments?
  •     What can be used to make learning more effective or interesting for diverse adult learners online?
  •     How might you adapt your teaching practice to provide supports, or to take advantage of some of the opportunities for online learners?

How will the participants discuss and collect their ideas in response to these points?

Provide a schedule of events with due dates for all parts of the activity.

Facilitation Tasks

Your facilitation should help participants think critically about the topic and stay “on time”:

  • post a clear, concise “launch” message in the week’s forum (direct participants to the detailed instructions, schedule and the collaborative tool that you've chosen)
  • monitor activities in relation to due dates - connect with participants who are lagging
  • respond to questions/confusions as quickly as possible
  • allow “space” for discussion but post prompts or clarifying questions to help the participants in each perspective achieve a deeper understanding of the focus of their topic
  • encourage participants to summarize or share highlights of their discussions
  • encourage participants to provide feedback by the weekend
Team Planning Space

You have access to a semi-private planning forum (visible only to your team members and the FLO facilitators) located in the Facilitation Teams Workspace. Use this forum to ensure that all members of your team and your FLO facilitator are kept informed. The FLO facilitator can assist you in accessing features/functions of the Moodle course site and providing assistance in your scheduling and planning.

Relevant Readings/Resources

The following readings/resources from the Week 2 Overview are particularly relevant to this activity:

  • Bates, T. (Aug 22, 2014) Key characteristics of learners in a digital age and their influence on the design of teaching and learning (blog post). Note the paragraphs discussing increasing diversity and age of students.
  • Carleton University Media Server (2014) Educational Development Centre, Benefits and Challenges of Online Education, retrieved from
  • Video  (6:09) Benefits and Challenges of Online Learning

Team Tasks
  • Connect with team members to plan the activity in your planning forum - decide on roles and responsibilities of team members. Draw upon the support of your FLO facilitator for any pedagogical or technical assistance you may need.
  • Review the sections of this Activity Plan and work together to craft instructions and share facilitation tasks to support learners. Note the activity's intended learning outcomes.
  • Determine whether to involve participants in individual reading/reflection and/or divide them into small groups to discuss, then share to the larger group. If you decide to involve participants in small group discussion, using the "bucket" perspectives described above, how will they share the outcome of their discussions? You can ask them to post a summary OR ask each group member to post one "nugget" from their discussions. If you are going to allow each individual to select a perspective to study, how will they share their ideas to the larger group? How will you ensure that each perspective is discussed? Part 3 of the activity is to engage the group in discussing the additional three questions (see above) that focus on the intended learning outcomes.
  • Organize your team members to provide support, as you decide is necessary, throughout the week.
  • After your activity has finished, encourage participants to provide feedback by the weekend.
  • Complete your FLIF individually before the next week begins.
Tools / Structures

Create an Instructions and Schedule resource which will guide participants through the steps of your activity and provide due dates for each step. You can do this in a Moodle page, a multimedia resource that you create (screencast? video?), or within the forum you have in your week. (Note: You will need to ask your FLO Facilitator to post any resources to your activity area.) Remember that you only have 5 days; be clear about who is doing the task (i.e. individual or groups), when and where.

Collaborative Tool: Choose a collaborative tool (Google Doc or Moodle Wiki or a separate Moodle Forum) to allow groups to work together or for individuals to share ideas from each of the three perspectives (Social, Intellectual, Management). Each collaborative work area should contain: topic introduction, instructions that include guiding questions, how you want them to explore the different perspectives, how you want them to share with the larger group in the forum. Ask your FLO Facilitator if you're unsure of how to use these collaborative tools.

Week's Activity Forum:  Post a very brief statement about the activity in the Diversity of Learners forum's description (i.e. the top part). Your FLO facilitator will have to update this for you once you provide them with the text.

Post your “launch” post as a new discussion topic to "set the scene" and invite participants to start the activity. (Remember that participants are automatically subscribed to the forum so each should receive an email after you post.)

Last modified: Friday, 23 September 2016, 12:07 PM