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, Conceptual Design

The conceptual design is for the students ( year seven students) to learn about earthquakes. The students will learn what causes earthquakes, the types of earth quakes, areas in which earthquakes occur and the effects of earthquakes.

Topic Focus and suitability

The learning activity is geared towards designing of an appropriate website that will serve as an earth science lesson curriculum for year seven students. Given that this activity will take place outside classroom instruction some preparation will be required before the students embark on the activity to ensure success. Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the topic by identifying earth quakes formed thorough pictures of the three ways in which tectonic plates move to cause earth quakes, discussing causes of earth quakes and identifying areas in which earth quakes have occurred according to the learning objectives for the age group (Discovery Education, 2010). The students will also be required to comment on (review) one another’s work.

Intended Learning Outcome

The activity is mean to assist the students to achieve cooperative learning and through the activity the expected outcome of the learning activity will be:

Ø At the end of the activity the students will be able to use online resources to search for causes of earthquakes which will be the relevant information.

Ø The student will also demonstrate knowledge about earth quakes namely their causes, types and areas in which they have occurred.

Ø The students will be able to navigate the pages of the website and interact with the materials provided including posting information and answering questions on the web page.

Ø The students will be able to review their peers work by commenting on one another’s work pointing out areas of improvement and interact with the instructor incorporating the instructor’s contribution to their work.

Rationale and explanation for pedagogical strategy employed

Using the ‘website’ was chosen since it offers the best opportunity for the students to have discussions among students and the instructors. It is also a good tool to facilitate electronic exchange. (Mantyla, 1999). ‘website’ is available for unlimited time allowing for asynchronous mode of learning to be used for this activity. There are diverse tools at ‘website’ which would allow the student to interact with others and the instructor without limit. In addition the site allows for easy uploading of information, diagrams and pictures. The website gives students various ways in which to upload, for example from their computers making it easier for them to share this information.

Before the commencement of the online activities, the instructor will have a classroom session with the students. During this class the instructor will access the students’ level of understanding on the subject of earthquakes. This is important to establish the comprehension level and ensure that the online activities correspond to the students’ level. In addition the instructor will inform the students about the online activity and pas along necessary information that the students need or answer questions they may have. This will further allow the students to be prepared for the activity. The online activity will be divided into several related activities for the students to engage in. The activities will correspond with the expected outcomes where each activity will be geared towards delivering corresponding outcome.

Activity A

This will involve the students in looking for definition of earth quakes and the causes of earth quakes. Students will be guided through hyperlinks to websites that provide information on earth quakes and from which they have to seek the particular information they need. When they get to the website, they will read, analyze the information and extract what they need to give the definition and causes of earth quakes.

Activity B

The students after extracting the information they need will answer the questions asked about the earthquakes. They will post pictures/diagrams of the three causes (movements of tectonic plates) of earthquakes. In addition they will be asked to post pictures of an area affected by earthquake and give details of background information about the area i.e where it was, the strength of the earthquake, when the earthquake occurred. This will allow student to connect what they have learnt in their research to real life situation.

Activity C

The student will be asked to read teachers comment and respond about their progress to the instructor. In addition they will make corrections if applicable that the instructor suggests. Activity D

The students will be asked to respond to the work of their peer. This response will be an assessment of the pictures posted by other students. They will be required to ask one question about the earthquakes witnessed in the pictures, one explanation as to the causes of the earthquake in the picture and explain what they find helpful/not helpful about another student’s discussion of the picture. This activity will give the students an opportunity to participate freely and to grow in positive criticism.

How the heuristics inform the design

These learning activities are based on heuristics. Online learning strategy has unique challenges since it is not like the traditional classroom setting (Mantyla, 1999). To foster maximum benefits the learning for students of this age the learning design was chosen because of the simplicity of use by the participating students (Greenberg, 1998). This is important because if the students cannot use the designed online activities they cannot learn. Thus this design offers a simple way in which students can learn using internet skills they already have.

Another reason for the use of this design is the continuous support that the students have with the instructor interacting with the students (Greenberg, 1998). Even when students are not logged on at the same time as the teacher, they can keep correspondence through the teacher’s comments and notes which then the students can incorporate in their work. According to Mantyla (1999) through this method students are also in touch with each other which is quite helpful. According to Greenberg (1998) the feedback and response that the students get goes a long way in helping them appreciate a different point of view and accept positive criticism. They also get trained in critical thinking through the opportunity to assess the work of others. This will boost their learning confidence. This support has been found to be most helpful even for mature learners engaged in distance learning.

Rationale for selection of the tool to implement the activity

The tools to implement the activities were chosen primarily because of the topic of study which often determines the appropriateness of a distance learning method (Valentine, 2002). To understand earthquakes well the students need to read diverse material based on the topic of earthquakes which the links will provide them with. They also need to use pictures to understand the concept of earth quakes clearly and what the effects of earth quakes are to the environment. The interaction with teacher through the site provides the timely support and corrections to improve their learning. The discussion of their fellow classmates work through the site improves what they have already learnt and helps them to synthesize it more.


For the learning activities to work the instructor and students need to fulfill certain respective roles which enable the learning to occur smoothly (Conrad and Donaldson, 2004). According the roles below are suited for this particular online learning.


The key role of the instructor is:

· Prepare the students for the online activity through assessment of their level

· Prepare the learning materials and set up for the activities on the site.

· Ensuring that each student is progressing on the learning activities by checking on their updates.

· Offering assistance according to the students need

The student

The roles for the students are:

o Log in to the website and create an account.

o Follow the website directives, identify the task to be done and follow the hyperlinks

o Complete the quizzes/ answer all questions

o Check on the instructor’s guidelines and incorporate it in their work

o Upload the necessary pictures and additional information to go with the pictures

o Make comments on their classmate’s pictures, discussion and what they found helpful/not helpful in the other students pictures.

Assessment criteria

Online Activities




Activity A

Defined an earthquake

Gave one cause of it

Defined an earth quake and gave two cause

Adequately defined an earth quake and gave three causes for it

Activity B

Posted a picture of one cause of earth quake

Posted a picture of an area where an earth quake occurred

Posted two pictures of two cause of earth quake

Posted a picture of an area where an earth quake occurred

Gave background information on the pictures

Posted three pictures of three cause of earth quake

Posted a picture of an area where an earth quake occurred

Gave adequate background information on the pictures

Activity C

Read the teachers instructions during activities

Read the teachers activities during activity and responded on time

Read the teachers activities during activity, responded on time and incorporated it in their work

Activity D

Asked a question about a classmate’s picture, offered an explanation on cause of the earthquake in the picture, commented on classmate’s work.


Asked a question about a classmate’s picture, offered a good enough explanation on cause of earth quake in the picture, commented on what they found helpful/not helpful in classmate’s work.


Asked an appropriate question about a classmate’s picture, offered a good explanation on cause of earth quake in the picture and commented constructively on what they found helpful/not helpful in classmates work.



Over all presentation

Finished all online activities

Finished all online activities on time and demonstrate good knowledge on topic

Finished all online activities on time and demonstrate excellent knowledge on topic.



Conrad, R and Donaldson, J.A. (2004). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and resources

for creative instruction. (1st ed.)San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Discovery Education. (2010). Lesson plan library: Earth science lesson Grade 6-8. Retrieved on

30th September, from http://school.discoveryeducation.com/lessonplans/earthsci.html#6-8

Greenberg, G. (1998). Distance education technologies: Best practices for K-12 settings.

Technology and Society Magazine. IEEE. Vol 17, 4: 36-40.

Mantyla, K. (1999). Interactive distance learning exercises that really work. Alexandria PA:

America Society for Training and Development.

Valentine, D. (2002). Distance learning: Promises, problems and possibilities. Retrieved on 30th

September, 2010, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/valentine53.html


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