Ideas for the cash strapped elearning fan.

You will need: paper of varying sizes and colours, blue tack, post it notes, assorted pens and board markers, staplers, glue and sticky tape.

The interactive whiteboard drag and drop activity.

This one is easy. Let say you are matching vocabulary to a definition. You write the words on (e.g.) blue paper, and the definitions on red. You copy this several times to make one per pair of students, they then match the words. To get the Interactive Whiteboard Experience, do it on larger cards to do it on the whiteboard, and get the learners to come up and match them on the board using blue tack.


This may sound familiar: you get the learners to write an “email” on a piece of paper, pop it in an envelope, then “send” it to someone else in the room, who then writes their reply on the same piece of paper and returns it. Brilliant.


Give ss different coloured post it notes. They then write a statement or comment on it (you could choose the topic or the ss could), then stick it on the wall. They then go round and write responses to any that take their fancy, then responses to those responses, etc.


Learners make profile posters of themselves including carefully selected personal info, likes and dislikes, etc etc. They leave a space in the middle and use post it notes to write on their “wall” and comment on each others “walls”. (Of course, to get the true Facebook experience, pin it up in the local town centre for all to see. [joke])


Staple together a bunch of bits of paper and students write on them every day. These are then pinned to a notice board. Using post it notes, ss are encouraged to read one another’s posts and reply with brief comments and ideas.

A Wiki

Again, a piece of paper, but this time pencils and rubbers not pens. Alternatively mini whiteboards would work here too. Ss write and draw their content onto the paper. They then photocopy it – this forms the “history”. They then give it to their colleague who can change anything they want by rubbing it out and altering it. It is copied again and passed on. You could either pass it to another learner in the group, but eventually it should be reread by the originator, who again can add or alterwhat is there.

The PowerPoint presentation.

You could use a whiteboard here, and simply get ss to rewrite their “slides” as they go (would be a good lesson in effective use of content in presentations)’ or alternatively A3+ sheets which ss can prepare in advance. If you wanted to make a truly PowerPoint experience, of course, you could put “funky yet professional” colour schemes and designs on the sheets first.

Of course you could always dust off the OHP. I once saw a teacher use a series of slips of paper stuck to an OHT which he could then pull back one by one to reveal bits of text.

Whole class gap fill

Write the text without gaps onto a whiteboard. Rub out the key words or phrases wanted for the gap fill. Ss work to guess / work out what words to in each gap. Then discuss as a whole class.

The Internet

Choose a topic to be researched. Send the half the learners to the library, and the other half to interview random people on the streets to find out what they know about the topic. If you can, get some learners to phone a company which is involved in that topic in some way and find out what they think. After an hour or so, come back together and compare notes, discussing the validity of what they have found.


What’s really funny here is that I started this as a send-up but as i was writing it, found myself thinking “actually some of these are quite good ideas”. The last one, if you could adapt or set it up, would be a valuable lesson for, say, EAP learners in what constitutes valid online research. I stole the Twitter idea entirely from my fabulous colleague Cathy Clarkson ( @cathywint ) so credit to her there.

The thing for a lot of these ideas is that for most of them they work better with technology than they do without. There’s that old anti-tech adage “I can do it just as well without” but writing this has raised my awareness of how wrong that statement can be. Yes, when it comes to quickly scribbling notes and diagrams on a whiteboard, IWBs have a way to go (but not far) but by and large the time spent preparing and developing most of the resources and ideas above would be half the time if done online, with double payback in motivation and engagement, and the added bonus that they can be used again and again without having to laminate cards, carefully roll up large sheets and store them in a box somewhere and all the other faff associated with keeping paper based activities neat and tidy. Worth remembering when you look at that shelf full of folders of stuff you never use but dutifully copied and kept nice copies of.



  1. Hi Sam ,

    Great post! I really like these ideas, and already use variants of some of them myself.

    You are completely right in your last paragraph though, that with the technology we can do all of these (and more) with less fuss and bother. I don’t have an IWB, or even a computer in my classrooms (although some of our classrooms do have PCs and projectors, just not the ones I am in at the moment!) I make use of my students smartphones as much as possible for research etc… and I wish I had a bit more technology to play with sometimes, but being creative and coming up with ways around it can also be fun!

    Thanks for some new ideas, will let you know when I try them out.


  2. Glad you liked them. Sometimes teaching is about making use of what comes to hand! The other thing I noticed reading back on these is how many of them require learner generated content, rather than teacher generated, which I think is a reflection of how the modern web works – which is why perhaps social media and the rest are so good for developing learning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s