Planning Online Lessons
BOPPPS is a method of lesson planning that helps instructors align their learning outcomes with learning and teaching activities and assessment. BOPPPS as a lesson planning tool emphasizes:
B - Bridge in: How can students be “hooked” into the lesson?
O - Learning Outcomes: What will students be able to do, know, or value by the end of the lesson?
P - Pre-assessment: What do students already know and how can that be used to strengthen instruction?
P - Participation: How will students be active in their learning, and what tools and methods of instruction can we use to support that learning?
P - Post assessment: How can we assess the learning that has taken place?
S - Summary: How does the lesson link to future learning activities?
For effective online lesson design, consider splicing lessons into small sections, each with the BOPPPS framework. For more on how BOPPPS applies to online lesson planning, view the learning object below. Turn on the speakers to hear the narration, and use the arrows to advance or move back through the lesson. Descriptive text version and infographic versions of the lesson are also available.
What are the components of a great lesson?
Ask yourself, what are the components of a great lesson? What special things do you do in your lessons that help students learn or capture their attention? How do you make sure you include all of the components of a great lesson in every lesson?
BOPPPS Online Lesson Planning
Today, you will learn about BOPPPS, which is a lesson planning tool that is aimed at increasing student engagement and deepening student learning.
BOPPPS is an acronym for 6 components of a lesson.
The components are: Bridge-In, Outcomes, Pre-assessment, Participatory Learning, Post-assessment, and Summary.
BOPPPS is especially useful for planning short lessons or segments of longer lessons. This makes it ideal for planning lessons for the online learning environment, where lessons that are divided into short segments often lead to greater student engagement.
Follow along for more on each component, and then you will have a chance to plan your mini-lesson using the BOPPPS model.
- gains learner attention
- builds motivation
- establish relevance
Learners find out
- What’s in it for me?
- Why does this matter?
- Why should I learn this?
Ideas for Bridging Online
- share a relevant story using an audio or video clip.
The learning cycle begins with "Bridge In”. This is your chance to capture the learner’s attention. Use the Bridge as a way to build motivation or establish the relevance of the lesson.
From the student’s perspective, they get to find out from the beginning “what’s in it for me?” “Why is this important?” or “Why should I learn this?"
There are lots of ways to Bridge-In to your lesson online. Why not try sharing a relevant story using an audio or a video clip? This also helps to add a human dimension to your course.
- clarify what the learner will “get out of” the lesson
- streamline the planning process to focus on the outcomes.
Learners find out..
- What will be expected of me?
- “Learning is enhanced when students are aware of the mastery expectations for their courses…” (Marsh, 2007).
The O in a BOPPPS lesson stands for Learning Outcomes.
The learning outcomes are typically the second component of a lesson from the student perspective, but writing learning outcomes is the first step from a planning perspective.
Definition of a Learning Outcome
Remember that a learning outcome is a statement that specifies, in a measurable way, what the learner will know, value, or be able to do by the end of a lesson.
Learning outcomes first
Writing learning outcomes takes careful thought and some time, but is a critical first step for course and lesson planning. Your task as instructor is to clarify what the learner will “get out of” the lesson. In the process of writing learning outcomes, you also begin to streamline your lesson planning process by focusing activities and assessments on the outcomes you have set.
Steps for writing learning outcomes
Let's review the 3 steps for writing learning outcomes.
Writing Learning Outcomes Step 1: The Stem
- introduce the learning outcome
- provide a timeline for achieving the outcome
- e.g., by the end of this lesson/ module/ course/ program, participants will be able to…
The first component of a learning outcome is the stem, which introduces the learning outcome and provides a timeline for achieving the outcome. An example would be: “By the end of this mini-lesson, participants will be able to…"
Writing Learning Outcomes Step 2: Action Verb
- identify the ability that will be measured (in relation to knowledge, skill, or value)
- e.g., illustrate, define, compare, arrange, sketch, create, indicate, coordinate, assess, advocate, tolerate…
The second component is the action verb. This verb identifies the ability that will be measured when the student successfully completes the learning outcome. For example, the students might illustrate, define, or compare.
Writing Learning Outcomes Step 3: Learning Statement
- set the context under which the student demonstrates the knowledge, skill, or value
- g., By the end of this lesson, the learner will be able to describe all 6 components of a BOPPPS lesson.
The third component is the learning statement, which sets the specific context under which the student will demonstrate the knowledge, skill, or value. The learning outcome for this lesson on BOPPPS lesson planning includes a learning statement. “By the end of this lesson, the learner will be able to describe all 6 components of a BOPPPS lesson”.
Instructor finds out…
- What do learners already know?
- Do I need to adjust the depth and pace of learning?
- What are my students interested in?
- Which students could act as resources within the class?
- recall prior knowledge
- gain confidence by reviewing prior knowledge
- assess own strengths and areas for improvement.
Ideas for pre-assessments online
- send out a survey, quiz, or poll in the week leading up to your lesson.
The first P in BOPPPS stands for Pre-assessment. Pre-assessment answers the question: “What does the learner already know about the subject of this lesson”?
This information helps you determine the knowledge level of your class, and student interests. Pre-assessments can also give you an indication if there is a need for differentiated instruction.
For the learners, they jump-start the learning process and gain confidence with the subject by reviewing what they already know. They can also identify areas that need more attention.
There are many ways to pre-assess students in an online environment. You might find it useful to send students a survey, quiz, or poll a week ahead of the lesson so that you can share the results of the pre-assessment with the class or work them into your lesson.
- carefully plans a participatory learning activity that allows students to engage with the learning outcome
- communicates expectations clearly
- plans level and type of instructor facilitation to maximize student learning.
- are actively involved in achieving the outcomes of the lesson
- improve understanding and deepen learning by connecting with, testing, exploring, and mentally manipulating ideas.
Ideas for participatory learning online
- use a discussion forum for problem solving or working through a case.
The second P stands for Participatory learning.
For deep learning, students need to do more than simply absorb material, they need to participate and engage with material. During this stage, students are involved as actively in the learning process as possible. The sequence of activities is intended to help the learner achieve the learning outcome. Careful planning and clear expectations are critical in the online environment because it is difficult to redirect activities once students have started on the task.
At this stage, you should also plan your facilitation efforts. Consider that with too much teacher presence, students may expect that you will chime in with the most important points and expend less effort exploring topics on their own. With too little facilitation, the students may lose the motivation to participate.
As an example of participatory learning, you could try using the discussion forum in a purposeful way. Have students solve a problem or ask questions about a case study.
Instructor finds out…
- What did the learners learn?
- Were the desired outcomes accomplished?
- Are there any gaps in understanding?
Learners find out…
- Am I getting it?
- What do I need to work on?
Ideas for post-assessments online
- Ask students to submit a minute paper. You could use
- quiz tool
- Google form
- feed from learning object.
The third P stands for Post Assessment. As the instructor, you can use a post-assessment to find out if the students have developed the skills and knowledge required to accomplish the learning outcomes. If there are gaps in understanding, then you can either revisit these topics, offer extra resources, or perhaps dedicate an office hour to that topic.
The learners get a chance to find out if they are getting it and draw attention to areas they need to work on.
One idea for creating a post-assessment is to ask students to complete a minute paper that they can submit using the quiz tool or google form. Ask students something specific about your lesson, or ask them to reflect on something more general like, “What is the most important concept from today’s lesson?”.
- concludes and wraps up learning experience
- provide a sense of closure and completion, or set up learner for future sessions
- appreciates how the lesson ties in with the course, or the bigger picture (their discipline, their experience, etc.)
- reflects on whether outcomes were met
- review material immediately.
Ideas for summarizing online
- recap main points
- provide a clip showing application in the real world.
The ’S’ in BOPPPS stands for summary. The summary concludes the learning experience and provides a sense of closure and completion. You might also link what they learned to what’s coming in future lessons. The students get a chance to see how the lesson ties in with the course, or with the bigger picture. One example would be to recap main points and provide a short media clip showing of an application of what they learned.
For more information or research that supports aspects of this teaching and learning style, please check out the resources below. Next, try using the BOPPPS lesson planning resources to start planning your own mini-lesson.
Instructors who take part in the Instructional Skills Workshop Online have the opportunity to practice applying the BOPPPS framework to online lesson design and facilitation.
- Being there: Establishing instructor presence in an online learning environment. (Higher Education Studies, Ozgur Ekmekci)
- Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement (edX blog, Philip Guo)
- Learning Outcomes
If you need individual support in planning online lessons, please contact the CTL eLearning team.
Boultbee, G.W. et al. (2018). The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) handbook. Part one: Workshop overview (in press).