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1 Definition

The term E-tivity was coined by G. Salmon of Open University (England). It means "task online"; it is a framework to learn something in a dynamic and interactive way. This activity is based on intense interaction and reflective dialogue between a number of participants, such as learners / students and teachers, who work in a computer-mediated environment. E-tivities are text-based and led by an e-moderator (usually a teacher).

See also: E-moderation five-stage model (also by G. Salmon) and more general entries like activity, pedagogical scenario, learning activity and pedagogic strategy.

2 Structure

All e-tivities "are designed to engage online students in meaningful work that captures their imagination and challenges them to grow" (Salmon, 2002). All the participants cooperate in order to get used to computers and, in particular, the Internet. They follow a basic structure:

Spark: a small piece of information, a sort of "input".

Task: the moderator asks participants to do an activity online. In doing the activity, participants have to complete a task and try to solve a problem by themselves.

Timeline: the moderator, who orchestrates the whole process, gives participants a deadline to do the activity. This timeline is useful to organize work and make sure that all participants will complete it by the same time. The timeline should give participants a little time to complete the "respond" part before the assignment of the following e-tivity.

Respond: participants are invited to read other participants' e-tivities and comment on them whenever they have something interesting to add or disagree with some observation; constructive criticism is a key aspect of online activities. This last part plays an important part in the overall process for it fosters collaboration between participants. It is quite helpful for everyone as it gives each of the participants the possibility to improve their work method quality.

3 Examples of e-tivities

There are some examples of e-tivities below, each related to one stage in Gilly Salmon's five-step process. (see also Learning technologies)

E-tivity 1 (related to Stage 1- Access & Motivation)
Purpose - to be able to access the VLE Asynchronous Discussion tool
Task - to post an initial message introducing yourself to others
Interaction - the e-tutor checks that students can access and provide feedback for motivation.
E-tivity 2 (related to Stage 2 - Online Socialisation)
Purpose - to introduce yourself to others in your group
Task - to post a message introducing a topic of the student's choice via the Conference Room tool
Interaction - contributions from others in the group within a 'threaded' discussion. Participation and summary by e-tutor.
E-tivity 3 (related to Stage 4 - Knowledge Construction)
Purpose - to analyse your preferred methods of learning and to consider alternative processes or models
Task - to post thoughts on a particular piece of reading on learning methods
Interaction - others members of the group provide their own interpretations and thoughts. E-tutor moderate and summarise.

3.1 E-tivities in the context of foreign language teaching

In my opinion (Maria Chiara) the use of e-tivities is an innovative teaching method which has three important consequences:

  • it renders English classes more dynamic and, therefore, more stimulating;
  • it gives students the possibility to get used to the computer, in particular to social softwares;
  • it fosters team work and collaboration between students and between students and their teachers. What really counts is not only the single work of one student, but above all the way he/she interacts with the other members of the group. The final "output" is like a jigsaw puzzle made up of the "material and human contributions" given by the group as a whole.

By clicking on the following links you can look at a few examples of e-tivities

4 References