Scavenger Hunting: An Activity for Online Course Orientation

By Huei-Lien (Elaine) Chen and Greta Steber

Building a scavenger hunt into the beginning of an online course will help your students learn the basic operations of a learning management system (LMS) such as RamCT Blackboard. It’s a quick way to show them how to navigate course materials, find important course information and updates, and or use any interactive tools like discussion forums and chat rooms.

As Watson (2010) notes, when missing such supportive scaffolding and guidelines, learners will fall short of achieving the learning objective.

A scavenger hunt should:

  • be activity-centered
  • engage reflection
  • allow practice and production
  • provide feedback
  • accommodate different learning approaches

Online Scavenger HuntTo create a scavenger hunt that provides this supportive scaffolding, Cisco’s Reusable Learning Object (RLO) formula is recommended.  With minimum modifications it can be reused in all of your online courses (Chyung & Swanson, 2007).

Cisco’s RLO Formula

Overview: explain the purpose of the activity and its learning objectives.

Topics/concepts/procedures: provide students opportunity to become familiar with the:

  • course syllabus
  • assignment due dates
  • course orientation materials
  • assignment dropbox attachment procedures
  • video recording procedures
  • computer system requirement checks
  • any other required application checks

Summary: repeat what students will be taking away once completing the activity.

Practice: allow multiple accesses to the practice materials.

Assessment: quiz your students’ newly acquired knowledge and skills.

The complete scavenger hunt can be created as a “Learning Module” in RamCT Blackboard. It can include your Overview, Topics—Concepts—Procedures, and Summary pages. A combination of multiple-choice, true/false, hotspot, file response, matching, ordering, etc. questions with which to create your assessment quiz are also available.


Chyung, S. Y, & Swanson, J. (2009). A reusable learning object approach to designing online courses. In Rogers, P. et al. (Eds.), The encyclopedia of distance learning (2nd ed.) (Vol. 4, pp. 1800-1805). Hershey, PA: IDEA Group.

Watson, J. (2010). A case study: Developing learning objects with an explicit learning design. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 8(1), 41-50. Retrieved from


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