Integrate Real-World Examples in an Online Course

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Learning retention can be encouraged and reinforced through the integration of real-life examples and artifacts into course material (Chrestensen, 2007). A simple way to do this in an online course is to include a section of the course that references real-life examples. These examples should be directly related to the learning objectives and content that will be covered in that unit/ module.

Types of Artifacts to Include

  • Related multimedia (audio, video, images)
  • Link to a current news article
  • Interesting data and statistics
  • Expert interview
  • Short Case Study

Encourage Student Participation

To further enhance this experience in your course, try allowing the students to submit articles of their own at the end of each lesson/unit. This will allow students to have the opportunity to self-reflect on the content that they just learned and think critically of ways the content they have been exposed to may impact them in the real-world.

Link to example artifact(s)

Instructor(s): Adewale Troutman, MD, MPH, Desiree Rivers, Ph.D., MSPH, College of Public Health, University of South Florida
Course Title: PHC 6412 – Health Disparities

The example below is from a graduate Health Disparities course taught at the University of South Florida, where the instructors included a section called “In the News” in each module where they shared artifacts of current news events related to the content in that module. They also gave students the opportunity to discuss the artifact provided and encourage them to share their own artifacts through an “In the News” discussion board (below).

PHC6412 Example

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Chrestensen, A. (2007). Real-world context, interest, understanding, and retention. Master’s report, Michigan Technological University.



Trail-Constant, T. (2018). Integrate real-world examples in an online course. In B. Chen, A. deNoyelles, & A. Albrecht (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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