Course Activities - Project-Based Activities

Overview | Instructional Use | Tips | Shortcomings | Potential Technology | Resources

Project-based activities are exceptionally appropriate for the online environment because they allow learners to apply and transfer the theoretical knowledge covered in the course into an authentic situation.
The final artifact created by the students can vary depending on the topic being mastered and the time available. Artifacts could be: a case study, a tangible product (either digital or physical), or the solution to a problem or issue.

Ideally, project-based activities should be based on real-world situations that are relevant to the students. Moreover, even though these activities could be assigned to individual students, they are mainly intended for teams of two to four students. Working in teams has the potential to promote motivation and commitment.

The deliverable of the project-based activity can be done in multiple ways: as a video, a pre-recorded narrated presentation, a website, an audio recording, a synchronous presentation, etc.




Through project-based activities, students:

  • Participate more actively in the learning process

  • Engage in critical thinking skills having to apply the theory learned into a real situation

  • Are more aware of the content relevance and applicability

  • Might be able to remember the content longer by requiring them to transfer it

  • Learn from their peers while collaborating with them


  • Selecting the right project or problem is crucial to the effectiveness of this type of activity. It has to be as authentic and relevant as possible while at the same time it has to allow for the appropriate application of the instructional content being covered.

  • Have students working in small groups of two to four students.

  • If possible, give students the ability to choose the technology they are most comfortable working with to develop or present the project.

  • If possible, provide an example of the expected artifact or product. If it’s not possible, make a through rubric available.

  • If the project is too long, set several milestones and monitor students’ progress.

  • Project-based activities take longer than some other activities, especially when there are several students per team working in the project. The time needed to communicate and interact on the online environment is certainly longer than in face-to-face classes. For this reason, this type of activities might not be feasible for short courses that span just a few weeks.
  • Similarly to any other team activity, there is the possibility of an imbalanced participation and work load among the team members. Having students providing you confidentially an evaluation of the contribution of the other members, including their own, might help reducing this issue.


SyllabusThe nature, goal and objectives of each project should determine the type of technology to be used. There are several free online technologies which are relatively easy to use for developing and presenting a project or product.

Here are a few technologies that could be considered for project-based activities based on the final output:

Text-based projects: Wikis or Google Docs for team projects; Word for individual projects.

Video-based projects: YouTube o TeacherTube.

Multimedia projects: Google Sites facilitates the creation of a website that could have several media included (images, video, animation, etc.)

Presentations: PowerPoint, Prezi, or Slideshare