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Introductory video: Activity Profile

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Welcome to the OULDI Activity Profile activity.

The activity profile is a bar chart representation which aims to support teachers (and learners) map different types of student learning activity across a course or module.

The activity profile tool can be used at different times in the design process from first ideas to evaluation and review.

This representation is also useful for sharing with learners and other stakeholders exactly what they will spend their time doing while learning.

The categories derive from a learning activity taxonomy that characterises the tasks learners undertake to learn into 6 types.


Read, Watch, Listen, Think about, Access, Observe, Review, Study

Finding and handling information

List, Analyse, Collate, Plot, Find, Discover, Access, Use, Gather, Order, Classify, Select, Assess, Manipulate


Communicate, Debate, Discuss, Argue, Share, Report, Collaborate, Present, Describe, Question


Create, Build, Make, Design, Construct, Contribute, Complete, Produce, Write, Draw, Refine, Compose, Synthesize, Remix


Practice, Apply, Mimic, Experience, Explore, Investigate, Perform, Engage

Interactive/ adaptive

Explore, Experiment, Trial, Improve, Model, Simulate


Summative (graded) assessment. For example Write, Present, Report, Demonstrate, Critique

 The example above is from an open online maths course.

You can see quite easily that learners spend about 30 hours attending to and understanding course content (assimilating).

Just over 25 hours producing their own work – it this case it was mainly written.

About 25 practicing maths in ‘real life’.

And about 10 hours completing assessment tasks – in this case pre- and post- unit quizzes.

In this activity you will use the representation to help you think about what you intend learners to be doing to study and plan how you might implement the profile in your design . You can also use the tools to review a module or course prior to redesign.

In doing this you can not only discover what learners are actually spending their time doing in comparison to what you hoped or thought they’d be doing but also explicitly and thoughfully plan how they will spend their time once the module or course is redesigned.

You can either use the pre-designed spreadsheet or just paper and pens is fine – either works just as well.

In fact if you are working as a design group around a table, you may find paper and pens a better solution.

You can download the OULDI spreadsheet  from the project website at .

There are 3 worksheets in the spreadsheet. Called Predict, ‘As is’ ad Plan.

In this activity we will use 2 – Predict and Plan.

By the end of this activity you will have 2 bar chart representations showing you the proportion of time learners spend engaged in each activity type.

The first will show you what you expect the overall distribution to look like and the second will show you how activity types will be distributed across the module, unit or course you are working on.

As with all the OULDI learning design tools, the process you go through in sketching out the representation – the conversations you have, te decisions you make, and the implicit assumptions you reveal are important activity outputs – so make sure you jot these down as you work through the design activity.

Begin by quickly calculating how many taught and directed study hours there are in your module or course as a total.

Then quickly sketch out what you anticipate students will be doing through the module or course.

Will they be collecting and analysing data?

Communicating their ideas and learning through discourse?

Will they be engaging in  role play or adaptive scenarios?

Learning experientially through practice?

Producing texts, presentations, music, video, sculpture...

Reading texts, or watching podcasts or lectures?

How long will assessment tasks take them to do across the unit or course?

Check that your total numbers add up to the right amount and make changes in necessary.

Next take a step back and look at your work.

Begin, to ask questions about some of the assumptions you’ve made and check these out. 

Make some notes as you go.

Next use the Plan worksheet.

You decide how you want to break the student journey down. For example you may want to break the course or module into themes, topics, phases, weeks or sessions. It doesn’t really matter how you do it but aim for about 10 manageable chunks.

Then begin to distribute activity hours across the course

You might decide there should be more assimilation type activity at the beginning of a course, data gathering and communication in the middle and more production and assessment at the end. 

This activity is also an opportunity to consider your learners workload. Will study hours be spread equally through the module or course as is the case here?

Remember that in addition to contact/teaching time and self-directed study, learners will also have a number of other things to do in relation to their learning such as administrative tasks (emails, time management planning, printing etc), refreshing skills, extra reading and extension activities. 

This 'self-directed study' is likely to add up to 10-20% of the total study time and is an important consideration for designers.

When you have finished, copy and paste your design notes into the notes panel here -  and save the file so you can continue to work on it and refine it over time.

This representation and activity was originally developed as part of the JISC funded Open University Learning Design Initiative or  (OULDI) project. the activity, tool and resources are all available on a creative commons Attribution, Non-commercial Share-alike licence.

Thank you for reading this video transcript.

Let us know what you think of the activity and any suggestions for changes.