In Chapter 8 from Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction, Conrad and Donaldson (2011) describe authentic activities their benefits for online courses. Authentic activities allow students to practice skills in simulations of actual experiences outside the classroom. They give the example of a surgeon practicing a procedure on a cadaver, a safer alternative than practicing on living humans. Effective authentic activities simulate real experiences, allow learners to use their existing knowledge to solve problems, and are useful in real situations.
The authors provide a number of examples. Case studies are actual cases students examine, and use their knowledge and skills to come up with solutions for a problem. For my ED TECH 512 course, I will incorporate something similar; learners look at examples of socialization activities for foster dogs, decide whether these activities are safe, and provide alternatives to unsafe activities.
The “celebrity chat” involves having an expert in the field respond to learners’ questions. Experienced rescue volunteers have much information to share; the most educational aspect of the existing training, which I’m modifying for my course, is reading their stories. It would be extremely beneficial to bring learners and experienced volunteers together for this kind of interaction.
Another example is the social responsibility activity, in which learners identify a social problem and come up with solutions. This could work well as an activity for my training program, modified so that learners come up with ways to fundraise to support the organization or specific dogs.
Conrad, R. M., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (updated ed., pp. 92-100). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. EBL e-Book Collection.