Most instructional designers will already be familiar with the name Robert Gagne, who was an American educational psychologist. Known as one of the pioneers of educational instruction, he gave us modern eLearning professionals a treasure trove of knowledge on how learning takes place, and how to plan instruction for maximum benefit to learners. Perhaps the most well-known of Gagne’s theories is the Nine Steps of Instruction or Events of Instruction, which is a result-oriented learning process still used today by countless instructional designers. In this article, we’ll be using Gagne’s Nine Steps of Instruction as guidelines to explain how result-oriented eLearning should be designed.
- Gain Attention
“Gain attention” is Gagne’s first step of instruction, as it ensures that learner is ready to receive instruction. To do that, instructional designers often use engaging animations, or start the course with a storytelling sort of format. Gaining attention right from the beginning of the course is important, as otherwise learners may just sit through it without learning anything (happens a lot). There are various other things that can be done to gain attention right from the start of the course, just make sure that the beginning of the isn’t flat or boring.
- Present The Learners with The Learning Objective
Just what will the learners be gaining from the instruction? Gagne’s second step of instruction says that unless learners see value in the course they are taking, they won’t take it with much enthusiasm. Provide specific and concise learning objectives at the start of the eLearning course or module, so that learners can prepare themselves mentally for what is to come.
- Stimulate Recall of Prior Knowledge
Your average learner is usually not a clean-slate, and has prior knowledge about the skill or quality they’re about to inculcate through the course. Gagne’s third step of instruction says that the course’s initial sections should stimulate that knowledge by testing it. Create a simple assessment that serves as recap, as well as connection between the existing knowledge and the new knowledge the learner is about to receive.
- Present The Content
The fourth step of Gagne’s events of instruction says to expose learners to new information after the previous steps have been completed. In case of eLearning, this is where instructional designers use a variety of learning strategies and content such as text, graphics, audio, video and interactivities to deliver information to the learners. Take care not to bombard learners with too much information too quickly, as it leads to cognitive overload, which is detrimental to learning.
- Provide Guidance
eLearning differs from other learning methodologies because it guides the learners every step of the way. This is what the fifth step of Gagne’s events of instruction says. Instructional designers should storyboard in such a way that the whole course flows smoothly, without the learner getting confused or wondering what to do next. Learner experience matters a lot, particularly in our modern age, when people are distracted easily.
- Elicit Performance
This step of Gagne’s events of instruction asks designers to make sure that the learners have gained the knowledge or skill the course was meant to, by asking questions, asking the learner to demonstrate what they’ve learned, or in any way apply what they’ve learned.
- Provide Feedback
The seventh step of Gagne’s events of instruction says that the learner’s must be informed of the results of their efforts, and how they could (if possible) better their efforts. If learners performed well, either appreciation or fitting rewards should be given to them. If not, the negative feedback they receive shouldn’t be too harsh.
- Assess Performance
This step says that in order to reinforce learning, there should be multiple cycles of performance and feedback. eLearning courses should have multiple assessments, which repeatedly ask learners to demonstrate what they’ve learned at regular intervals in order for them to retain what they’ve learned.
- Enhance Retention and Transfer
The ninth and final step of Gagne’s events of instruction says to review the lesson at the end of the course, as a recap of sorts to enhance retention. In this section, you can also inform learners of similar contexts or problems and provide them with additional practice or suggestions.
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