3 Ways The LEAD Strategy Helps Impart Effective Induction Training

Imparting effective induction training goes a long way in reducing employee turnover and enhancing the performance of new staff. Read this article to discover to how the LEAD Instructional Design strategy can deliver effective online induction training.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

The 5 Worst Fears Of Corporate eLearning Designers

The 5 Worst Fears Of Corporate eLearning Designers

There are things that send chills down the spine of all Corporate eLearning Designers. As they say, facing your fears is the best way to overcome them. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the top 5 things that scare the living daylights out of instructional designers who specialize in corporate eLearning. Hopefully, it will give you the chance to face your professional fears head on and bid them farewell, so that you can develop the best possible corporate eLearning experiences for your employees.

  1. Employees who are terrified of technology. 
    It’s true that we live in a tech-centric era, but there are some corporate learners who aren’t ready to hop on board the digital bandwagon. They might be afraid of data security or they may simply be unaware of how to use the tools and gadgets effectively. Whatever the case may be, they are terrified of participating in corporate eLearning experiences that involve technology, especially those that feature more interactive multimedia components. To overcome this fear you offer your corporate learners training on how to use the technology to their advantage. If corporate learners are tech-resistant, then stress the benefits of corporate eLearning and tie it into real world advantages and applications. For example, you can show corporate learners that online forums and social networking sites can benefit every aspect of their lives, including their careers and personal relationships. You should also be ready to offer them assistance after the fact if they run into any issues along the way.
  2. Your corporate eLearning program completely misses the mark. 
    There are few things worse than spending countless hours and resources on developing your corporate eLearning course, only to realize that it doesn’t meet any of your goals or objectives. If your corporate eLearning course misses the mark then it lacks real value and does not offer a significant ROI. To ensure that your corporate eLearning course makes a difference and hits the target you should consider audience research, training needs analysis, and even task analysis for corporate eLearning, if necessary. You must find out as much as possible about what they need to learn, what they’ve already learned, and how you can successfully fill their knowledge or performance gaps long before you begin the development process.
  3. Your training facilitators are completely unprepared. 
    For your corporate eLearning course to be effective you must have trainers, facilitators, and leadership who are well informed and fully prepared. If they don’t know how to use the technology, are unaware of the goals, and do not know how to connect with your corporate learners then, chances are, your initiatives will fail. Keep in mind that they are the face of your corporate eLearning program; the human element that ensures everything is on track and on target. Thus, you should make certain they have a complete understanding of what needs to be done and how to do it with the tools at their disposal. In other words, the trainers have to be trained in ahead of time. This may come in the form of online tutorials or walkthroughs, orientations, or other corporate eLearning activities that get them in-the-know.
  4. Employees don’t have room in their schedule for corporate eLearning. 
    Many corporate learners list lack of time as their number one reason for not enrolling in corporate eLearning courses. Employees can simply opt out of the corporate eLearning program, due to lack of time, even though it may benefit their on-the-job performance. The key is to make your corporate eLearning course convenient and quick, so that corporate learners can fit it into their busy schedules. Ideally, you should create mobile learning experiences that employees can complete in just a few minutes. For example, a half-hour corporate eLearning course can be broken down into three 10 minute modules that they can access on-the-go. You may also want to opt for a self-paced asynchronous approach that allows your corporate learners to develop their own training schedules. If they still don’t have room in their weekly agendas, be sure to stress the real world benefits of the course to boost their motivation. It may just be the nudge they need to actively participate.
  5. You have not developed a sound eLearning assessment strategy. 
    Developing a sound eLearning assessment strategy may take time, but it is well worth the time and investment. The only way to determine if your corporate eLearning is truly effective is to assess your corporate learners and the overall corporate eLearning strategy. Online exams, scenarios, simulations, and even feedback, such as surveys and focus groups, can give you clear idea of whether your corporate eLearning course is on target. It can also help you fill any performance gaps by identifying what your employees know and what skill sets still need to be developed. Be sure to include a good mix of eLearning assessment types in order to test every aspect of the corporate eLearning course or corporate learners' progress. Simulations, online scenarios, eLearning games, and traditional multiple choice/short answer exams are all effective eLearning assessment tools for corporate eLearning. Audience research can help you determine which methods are best for your employees’ needs and preferences.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". So, why not recognize your fears and overcome them in order to create memorable online training initiatives for your corporate learners. Use this article to defeat the fears that are preventing your corporate eLearning course from meeting its true potential.

Do you want to know the most common mistakes you should avoid when creating corporate eLearning courses? Read the article Top 9 Online Corporate Training Mistakes You Should Avoid to discover corporate training pitfalls that you should steer clear of during your next corporate eLearning project.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Getting To Know ADDIE: Part 1 – Analysis

Getting To Know ADDIE: Analysis

In a nutshell, ADDIE is an acronym where every letter corresponds to one of the model’s main phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The ADDIE methodology was developed in Florida State University’s Center for Educational Technology back in the seventies. Initially, the model was meant to be used in the US armed forces, a fact to which it owes its streamlined processes and clear delineation of phases. Despite being nearly forty years old, the methodology has not fallen out of use; indeed, it has remained the leading eLearning methodology to this day.

This popularity is owed to the fact that ADDIE is simple to use, flexible, and versatile. It is easy to learn, whether you are an eLearning master, or have just recently entered the industry. Another benefit of ADDIE is that it is cyclical; that is, it enables you to correct the errors made in previous iterations, thus improving the quality of the end product.

Of course, the model is not without its drawbacks. The linearity of the content creation process is considered its main drawback, as it can negatively affect both the course creation cost and the time requirements. This led to the development of alternative, agile development-based course building methodologies, which lack this drawback, but have other drawbacks of their own. Besides, they are neither as easy to use nor as well-known as ADDIE, so let us get back to ADDIE for now and see what makes it tick.

A Is For Analysis 

The first ADDIE phase we will examine is Analysis. Unsurprisingly, the better you study the requirements prior to the course creation, the more effective the resulting course will be. Analysis helps you gain a clear understanding of the following:

  • Who is the primary target audience for the course.
    Who will be using the learning materials you produce for studying? Are those learners domain experts looking to broaden their knowledge, or newcomers just making their first steps? Certain common traits shared by the members of the target audience (e.g. knowledge from an adjacent domain, or the overall computer literacy level) can greatly impact the way the finished course looks. Age, gender, socioeconomic status, experience, education; all of those inform the way the learning materials have to be presented to achieve maximum learning efficiency.
  • What are the learning goals you aim to achieve.
    Before starting to work on teaching materials, it is vital to determine the main learning goals and clearly communicate them to everyone involved in the creation of the course. What does your course aim to teach? What knowledge and skills it will impart to the learners who complete it? Having unambiguously set these goals right at the beginning, you will make your life much easier, as it will enable you to ask yourself “Does this page meet the needs of the course? Do the materials presented on it help advance one of the course’s goals?”. The goals must be described in detail from the outset, and they must be measurable. Another way analysis can help you is by enabling you to discover early that skills you aim to impart in your course are ill-suited for eLearning and require live courses with workshops. Thus, establishing this early will help save you a lot of time that would have been wasted otherwise.
  • What are the physical and organizational constraints.
    It is important to understand in what environment the course will be consumed. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are there any limitations imposed by the rules of the organization you design for that need to be taken into account?
    • Is the overall length of the course or the time allotted to the study of individual modules limited in any way?
    • In what setting the education will take place? In a physical classroom/auditorium, or remotely?
    • Do the physical rooms meet all the requirements of the course, or can those requirements be met should the need arise?
    • Will the setting impact the effectiveness of education?
  • What are the technical requirements of the course.
    During the analysis phase it is necessary to formulate any technical requirements and limitations of the course, especially if it is planned to use the course for online learning. Make sure that you know the following details before starting to work on the course and take them into account:

    • The bandwidth of the learners’ internet connections.
    • Whether the learners are equipped with the devices necessary for audio playback (sound cards, speakers, headphones, and/or microphones).
    • The list of software pre-installed on the learners’ computers.
    • The list of browser plugins necessary for participating in the course (Java Virtual Machine, Flash, etc).
    • What browser(s) the learners will be using to access the course.
  • What are the structural characteristics of the course.
    Information gathered during the preceding steps of analysis will help you establish the structure of the course. Have answers to the following questions ready before you begin:

    • Do you need to split the course into individual modules and include step-by-step instructions?
    • At what key points do you need to test the acquisition and retention of knowledge?
    • What weight is to be assigned to each test?
    • Will the modules differ in size and importance?
    • How will the learners use the course material in the future?
  • How accessible are the requisite knowledge sources.
    During the analysis phase it is important to assess the accessibility of materials you will use during the creation of the course. Answer the following questions:

    • Who or what will serve as the main source of information?
    • Are the necessary information sources available in-house, or will they have to be found elsewhere?
    • Is information about the course’s topic available on the Internet? Is it easily accessible?
    • Are there any materials on the topic that have already been written/created? Perhaps a different course that was used in the organization before?
    • Are there Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) within the organization that can help you work on the course by sharing their knowledge and expertise?
    • Will the said Subject Matter Experts be available to assist you with preparing the course?
  • What criteria will be used for assessment.
    You need to determine the way to assess the knowledge acquired by the learners. Having answers to the following questions will be helpful:

    • How exactly the students will be graded after the completion of the course? Will you use small timed tests that will be graded, or will the effectiveness of the course measured by the practical skills the learners acquire after completing it and the corresponding increase in productivity?
    • If you plan to assign grades to learners, what will be the passing grade, and will a learner be able to pass a failed test again to improve their result?

This will be all for today. In my next article I will tell you about the second ADDIE stage - Design. And if this article was of interest to you, you may also be interested in learning about alternative Instructional Design models in the meantime. Try searching for information on RAD (Rapid Application Development) or SAM (Successive Approximation Model).

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Models And Theories: Anchored Instruction

The Quintessential Of Anchored Instruction

Anchored instruction is directly linked to the idea of inert previous knowledge, that is knowledge people already have but they do not recall unless they are prompted to do so. Anchored instruction urges learners to retrieve this knowledge in order to solve problems related to the subject matter under study. Learning is enhanced when learners are able to collect information and acquire knowledge while they are striving to understand and solve problems that may arise within specific scenarios or situations based on the previous knowledge they probably have. When they lack previous knowledge, they can only memorize new facts. An anchored-based instructional design gives learners the opportunity, from the very beginning, apart from memorizing new information, to also understand how and where newly acquired knowledge can be applied, minimizing this way the possibility of its becoming inert.

3 Main Principles Of The Anchored Instruction Educational Model And Its Application To eLearning Course Design

Anchored Instruction is also closely tied to Case-Based Learning and Situated Learning. In essence, learners are immersed in a story or scenario that allows them not only to explore a particular problem, but also to acquire skill sets that can be used in the real world. Principal elements of an instructional design based on the Anchored Instruction Educational Model are:

  1. Anchor-based scenarios.
    All lessons should be centered around what is known as an “anchor”. This anchor is typically a problem solving scenario or case study. For example, one story may revolve around a mystery that must be solved, which includes the use of mathematical equations. Applied to eLearning, today, although today it’s not called anchored instruction, the model forms the basis for scenario-based learning, which allows learners to follow different learning paths and to obtain experience in alternative solutions in a risk-free environment.
  2. Discovery learning.
    Another basic principle of the anchored instruction approach is that the curriculum that is used should always allow learner to explore and delve into the problem or scenario. The same principle can also be applied to the instructional design for eLearning, by following a constructivistic approach where knowledge is constructed, by integrating eLearning activities that turn each learner into an active participant in the scenario, rather than a passive overlooker.
  3. Extensive use of multimedia.
    The use of multimedia programs or tools is highly encouraged when following an anchored instruction approach. The Cognition and Technology Group explained that the videos created, had been intended to recreate interesting, engaging, and realistic content that encouraged “active construction” of knowledge. Their videodiscs, of that time, when compared to verbal presentations, lectures, or textbooks, provided learners with a way to explore a particular topic in a more interesting way, instead of merely reading about it or being relayed the information from the instructor. Today, the use of multimedia is taken for granted in eLearning. Smaller file size and more advanced technology have improved the quality of the eLearning content and have a positive impact both on the effectiveness of the eLearning course and learners' satisfaction from their eLearning experience.

Last, but not least, in order to be effective, “anchors” should enable learners to identify critical elements of the learning situation that need further investigation or activation of their previous knowledge. Anchored instruction must also intrinsically motivate learners by providing interesting activities within context, challenging enough to initiate the discovery learning process.

Today, anchored instruction can be used in a wide variety of subject matters, particularly those designed to encourage the development of reasoning skills. Its principles are still in use in instructional design, especially for case-studies presented as branching scenarios and other type of eLearning activities that require learners’ active participation. In such cases, the instructional design normally follows a constructivist discovery learning approach appropriate for all age groups that is strongly recommended for eLearning courses addressing to adult learners.

Join us at the Instructional Design History Journey

A New Instructional Design Model Will Be Added Every Week! You are more than welcome to let us know if you would like us to cover an instructional design model and theory that is not included at the Instructional Design Models and Theories. Simply leave a comment at the Instructional Design Models and Theories.


  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (2000) Adventures in Anchored Instruction: Lessons From Beyond the Ivory Tower. Advances in Instructional Psychology (Volume V. pp. 35-100). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
  • Zech, L., Vye, N., Bransford, J. Goldman, S., Barron, B., Schwartz, D., Hackett, R., Mayfield-Stewart, C. & CTGV (1998). An introduction to geometry through anchored instruction. In R. Lehrer & D. Chazan (Eds.), New directions in teaching and learning geometry. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1996). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. In H. McLellan (Ed.), Situated learning perspectives (pp. 123-154) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publishers. Reprint: Educational Technology, 33(3), 52-70.
  • Bransford, J.D., with the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1994). Generative learning and anchored instruction: Design, research and implementation issues. In B. P. M. Creemers & G. J. Reezigt (Eds), New directions in educational research: Contributions from an International Perspective (pp. 33-62). Groningen: ICO.
  • Bransford, J.D. with Moore, J.L., Lin, X., Schwartz, D.L., Petrosino, A., Hickey, D.T., Campbell, J. O., Hmelo, C. & Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt [CTGV] (1994). The situated perspective: A reply to Tripp. Educational Technology, 34, 28-32. --Reprinted: The relationship between situated cognition and anchored instruction: A response to Tripp. In H. McLellan (Ed.), Situated learning perspectives (pp. 213-221) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publishers.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993, March). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. Educational Technology, 33, 52-70.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993). Toward integrated curricula: Possibilities from anchored instruction. In M. Rabinowitz (Ed.), Cognitive science foundations of instruction (pp. 33-55). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). Anchored instruction approach to cognitive skills acquisition and intelligent tutoring. In W. Regian & V. J. Shute (Eds.), Cognitive approaches to automated instruction (pp. 135-170). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27, 291-315.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). Anchored instruction in science and mathematics: Theoretical basis, developmental projects, and initial research findings. In R. A. Duschl & R. J. Hamilton (Eds.), Philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, and educational theory and practice (pp. 244-273). New York: SUNY Press.
  • Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher, 19(6), 2-10.
  • Dr. John D. Bransford - University of Washington
  • THEORY NAME: Anchored Instruction
  • Cognitive Constructivism & Social Constructivism: Anchored Instruction

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Models And Theories: The Situated Cognition Theory And The Cognitive Apprenticeship Model

The Quintessential Of The Situated Cognition Theory And Its Application in eLearning Course Design

The Situated Cognition Theory is based upon principles related to the fields of anthropology, sociology and cognitive sciences. Its main argument is that all knowledge that a learner acquires is somehow situated within activities that are socially, physically or culturally-based.

The Situation Cognition Theory mainly supports, that the acquisition of knowledge cannot be separated from the context in which this knowledge is collected. Therefore, a learner must grasp the concepts and skills that are being taught in the context in which they will eventually be utilized. As a result, instructors who are trying to apply this theory in their classes are encouraged to create an environment of full immersion, wherein students must be able to learn skills, as well as new ideas and behaviors that are taught in the context in which they will be used at a later time.

Applied to eLearning course design, it is obvious that the Situated Cognition Theory is directly related to the way that eLearning content is presented to the audience. This implies that all type of new information learners are exposed to, should be given within context. In practice, from an instructional designer’s point of view, this can be translated to the incorporation of case studies and interactive branching scenarios and simulations of real life settings in which the particular piece of knowledge would apply. By all means, all eLearning activities should make explicit to the learners the connection of what is actually presented as part of the eLearning content with its practical application in real life.

The Cognitive Apprenticeship Model and Key Teaching Strategies For Applying It in eLearning

In 1989, Brown, Collins, and Newman developed the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model, which is closely linked to the Situated Cognition Theory. This model also relies upon practical teaching methods, whereby context learning is key. For example, if learners were trying to acquire the basic concepts of architecture, they would not only take theoretical courses associated with the specific topic, but they would also seek out real world experiences which would allow them to become fully immersed in the field.

As the name implies, in the case of the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model, learners are encouraged to acquire the necessary skills by working alongside a master that serves as the subject matter expert in the field, next to whom they are expected to develop their cognitive and metacognitive skills. Some of the key teaching strategies for applying the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model, as well as its possible application in eLearning course design, are presented below:

  1. Modeling.
    Modeling involves an expert demonstrating a concept or task so that learners are able to gain in depth understanding of how it is done. This builds upon their previous experience and allows them to build a mental conceptual model of the specific process. Tutorials can serve as models in eLearning course design. Learners, before performing a specific eLearning activity, are able to watch tutorials, either in the form of videos, in which a subject matter expert explains the concept or process, or as screen recording demonstrations, that give step-by-step guidance on what learners are expected to achieve themselves in order to meet the learning objectives of the online course. In practice, the latter is widely used in the instructional design of online software training courses.
  2. Coaching.
    Coaching occurs when a subject matter expert allows learners to perform the task in question and then offers them feedback on their performance. This enables learners to understand what they may want to do differently to improve upon their skills and how they may advance to the next level in their field. Applied to eLearning, the integration of social media elements, such as chats and discussion boards, in which learners can get feedback not only from the online facilitator, but also from their peers, works towards this direction. The same is applicable for any type of synchronous eLearning via virtual learning sessions.
  3. Scaffolding.
    Scaffolding refers to the act of implementing strategies and methods that serve to enhance learners’ educational experience. This can be in the form of activities, group tasks and games. During the activity, instructors observe learners and assess their skills and knowledge acquired. Any type of social interaction in eLearning, through online group projects and joint activities, may be considered as application of the scaffolding strategy, with the online instructor serving as a facilitator during the learning process. Gamification is another possible application of scaffolding in eLearning, as learning objectives can be mastered through learners’ interaction with the eLearning content in an amusing way and their comparative results with peers in leaderboards may motivate them to try harder.
  4. Articulation.
    Articulation occurs when the instructor encourages learners to articulate what they know about the eLearning content or concepts, as well as what they did during the problem solving process. The more frequently used types of articulation are: inquiry learning, critical thinking and thinking out loud. In synchronous eLearning settings, articulation may occur in exactly the same way, as the online presence of the instructor makes no particular difference to the application of the strategy. Online facilitators are still able to ask learners to express their way of thinking in order to solve problems presented in the eLearning course. They are also able to provide feedback and guide learners towards the correct direction by giving them tips on how to proceed. In asynchronous eLearning, however, although articulation is difficult to be applied in terms of “thinking aloud”, the aim is for learners to rationalize upon the answers they have selected during problem-solving oriented eLearning activities and give reasons why they have selected a particular answer or approach. Their reasoning should be of equal importance for the online course facilitators as the answer itself. On the other hand, an instructional design for eLearning based on Discovery Learning is an obvious application of the Inquiry Learning approach, based on which, eLearning tasks and activities should provide learners with opportunities to go through a series of questions that need to be answered, in order for them to be able to formulate an explicit conceptional model for the situation under study. Such an approach could be applicable both to synchronous and asynchronous eLearning.
  5. Reflection.
    Reflection enables learners to compare their problem solving skills to those of an expert or peer. One way to do this is for the instructor to analyze how a student solved a problem, followed by an explanation of how the expert solved the same problem, then noting what was done differently or the same. In eLearning, again this may happen via tutorials that can be accesses by learners as many times as they like, in order for them to compare their actual performance with the one proposed by the subject matter expert.
  6. Exploration.
    Last, but not least, exploration takes place when learners are encouraged to solve problems on their own, as well as instructing them on new strategies that they can use to explore the problem. This enables learners to contextualize problems and then work to solve these problems in real world settings. Discovery learning designs in eLearning also work towards this direction. Learners are presented with challenging online tasks with the potential use of a pedagogical agent serving as online help, giving them tips on how to proceed, when needed. The pedagogical agent can adapt the frequency of its appearance depending on learners’ progress on the task.

Apply the principles of the Situated Cognition Theory and use the eLearning tips I gave you for integrating the teaching strategies involved in the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model to the instructional design of your next eLearning course, to provide your audience with a memorable eLearning experience.

Join us at the Instructional Design History Journey

A New Instructional Design Model Will Be Added Every Week! You are more than welcome to let us know if you would like us to cover an instructional design model and theory that is not included at the Instructional Design Models and Theories. Simply leave a comment at the Instructional Design Models and Theories.


  • Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
  • Carraher, T.N., Carraher, D.W., & Schliemann, A.D. (1985). Mathematics in the Streets and in Schools. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3, 21-29.
  • Collins, A. (1988). Cognitive Apprenticeship and Instructional technology. (Technical Report No. 6899). BBN Labs Inc., Cambridge, MA.
    Greeno, J. G. (1998). The Situativity of Knowing, Learning, and Research. American Psychologist, 53(1), 5-26.
  • Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Salomon, G. (1996). Unorthodox Thoughts on the Nature and Mission of Contemporary Educational Psychology. Educational Psychology Review, 8(4), 397-417.
  • Schell, J. W., & Black, R. S. (1997). Situated learning: An inductive case study of a collaborative learning experience. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34, 5-28.
  • Lave, J. (1991). Situated learning in communities of practice. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine, & S.D. Teasley (Eds). Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 63-82). Washington, DC: American Pscyhological Association.
  • Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning.
  • Cognitive Apprenticeship
  • Cognitive Apprenticeship, Technology, and the Contextualization of Learning Environments. Article by Ghefaili.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Models And Theories: The Cognitive Flexibility Theory

The Quintessential Of The Cognitive Flexibility Theory And Its Application In eLearning

The Cognitive Flexibility Theory relies upon the idea that learners must not only be able to manipulate the means by which knowledge and content are being represented, but also the processes that are in charge of operating those representations. The main principles of the Cognitive Flexibility Theory are:

  1. Knowledge is “context-dependent”.
    Knowledge cannot be perceived out of context. It is the context that allows learners to see any possible relationships between various components of the subject matter presented. In addition, learning activities in any educational setting should be able to provide several different representations of the same instructional objectives in different contexts. Practically speaking, the Cognitive Flexibility Theory suggests that, by doing so, learners have the opportunity to better understand the specific concept or idea because its practical application is clear to them. This is very important, especially for adult learners who usually want to know not only “what”, that is new information, but also “why” they learn something, as well as “how to apply” it in real-life settings.With respect to eLearning course design, this would signify an instructional design, in which for each one of the learning objectives to be mastered, learners would be provided with several examples and online activities, as the Cognitive Flexibility Theory claims that learners’ multiple exposure to the same concept in different contexts facilitates the learning process. Furthermore, offering many different ways to represent the same concepts or eLearning content is of extreme value to the learners and this could be translated to an instructional design that makes extensive use of multimedia, giving learners enough opportunities to get exposed to the same concepts, though at the same time would accommodate to all learning preferences and could motivate learners by offering them variety in the eLearning course. Repetition would facilitate the process of mastering the eLearning content, as increased exposure and practice would definitely have positive effects on learners.
  2. Knowledge cannot be oversimplified.
    Instructional materials to be used must not oversimplify a topic neither in terms of content, nor in terms of structure. Simply stated, knowledge cannot be reduced to its basics.With respect to instructional design for eLearning, this means that the eLearning content should be challenging enough in order to engage the audience in the learning process. Oversimplification of concepts gives adult learners a sense that they already know the eLearning material and therefore, they may consider the specific eLearning course as a waste of time. In terms of structure, problems should be presented to students in more complex and involving structures, rather than linear or simplified ones. Therefore, it’s better for instructional designers to provide learners with opportunities to make their own connections between concepts and principles that are being explored, even if these concepts may be of high complexity.
  3. Knowledge is constructed.
    The instruction that takes place should be “case-based”, wherein there is an emphasis on the construction of knowledge rather than on how it is transmitted to learners. The Cognitive Flexibility Theory follows a constructivist approach to learning, according to which learners are actively engaged in the learning process and they are responsible for their own learning. This principle is particularly applicable to eLearning course design, as it takes advantage of learners free navigation in the eLearning environment through the use of hyperlinks, and gives them the opportunity to explore the eLearning content and learn through multiple case studies and real-life interactive scenarios that expose them to how a particular concept or idea can be applied in different real world settings.
  4. Knowledge is interconnected.
    In order for the learner to grasp what is being taught, the knowledge sources that are used should be “interconnected”, rather than separated and “compartmentalized”.  In other words, this means that knowledge should never be isolated from what learners already know; far from previous experience. Applied to eLearning course design, instructional designers need to take into account learners’ previous knowledge on the subject and try to find ways to connect the new piece of information presented, to learners’ current frame of reference. A quick and easy tip to do so is by presenting a brief summary of prerequisite knowledge before presenting new information. This may serve two ways: first, it reminds learners what they may already know, but they may not remember; second, this summary may make some learners realize that it might be better for them to acquire prerequisite knowledge first, before attending the specific eLearning module. By providing the corresponding links in the summary section, for those who need them, instructional designers guarantee the effectiveness of the eLearning course.

The foundation of the Cognitive Flexibility Theory is that learners are better able to acquire and retain knowledge if they are encouraged to develop their own representation of it. By following the principles and corresponding eLearning strategies mentioned above, instructional designers can give learners the opportunity, to absorb information in a manner that better suits their personal needs, increasing the effectiveness of their eLearning course.

Last but not least, you are more than welcome to view the following video that Rand Spiro, professor of educational psychology at College of Education, Michigan State University, talks about Cognitive Flexibility Theory (CFT).

Join us at the Instructional Design History Journey

A New Instructional Design Model Will Be Added Every Week! You are more than welcome to let us know if you would like us to cover an instructional design model and theory that is not included at the Instructional Design Models and Theories. Simply leave a comment at the Instructional Design Models and Theories.


  • Jonassen, D., Ambruso, D . & Olesen, J. (1992). Designing hypertext on transfusion medicine using cognitive flexibility theory. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 1(3), 309-322.
  • Spiro, R.J., Coulson, R.L., Feltovich, P.J., & Anderson, D. (1988). Cognitive flexibility theory: Advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. In V. Patel (ed.), Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Spiro, R.J., Feltovich, P.J., Jacobson, M.J., & Coulson, R.L. (1992). Cognitive flexibility, constructivism and hypertext: Random access instruction for advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains. In T. Duffy & D. Jonassen (Eds.), Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Spiro, R.J. & Jehng, J. (1990). Cognitive flexibility and hypertext: Theory and technology for the non-linear and multidimensional traversal of complex subject matter. D. Nix & R. Spiro (eds.), Cognition, Education, and Multimedia. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Cognitive Flexibilty Theory and the Post-Gutenberg Mind: Rand Spiro's Home Page

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Models And Theories: Keller’s ARCS Model Of Motivation

The Quintessential Of The ARCS Model Of Motivation

Keller’s ARCS Model of motivation can be perceived as a problem solving approach to learning that instructional designers can use to develop even more engaging eLearning activities. Let’s start by analyzing its components:

The ARCS Model: Attention

Keller suggested that attention could be obtained either by perceptual arousal or by inquiry arousal. In the case of perceptual arousal, the learners' attention would be gained by surprise, doubt or disbelief. For inquiry arousal, the learners' curiosity would be stimulated by challenging problems that needed to be solved. In order to grab and hold learners' attention, a variety of methods could be employed, including:

  1. Active participation.
    Through games, role plays or other type of hands-on practice, learners are encouraged to become active participants in the learning process. As they get more engaged in the learning process, it is more likely to be interested in the eLearning content and there are higher chances of completing the eLearning course.
  2. Use of humor.
    Although humor should be used with caution, by including short humorous stories or lighthearted humor in the eLearning course, instructional designers can grab the attention of the audience.
  3. Conflict.
    Another technique to grab learner's attention is to present statements or facts that may be contrary to what the learner knows or believe to be true. This will grab their attention as they’ll want to learn more about the topic under discussion.
  4. Variety.
    Instructional designers can also grab learners’ attention by employing a variety of different media. Presenting all the information in the same way is boring. Offering alternative presentation forms is a strategy that can definitely make the eLearning course more interesting. Nowadays, the extended use of multimedia in eLearning design is offering many possibilities towards this direction.
  5. Real world examples.
    It is generally accepted that learners get more motivated if they believe that what they learn has a practical application in real life. Informing learners of the practical use of the eLearning material in their daily lives, either personal or professional, by employing real life stories or examples, will grab their attention and will make them want to know more.

The ARCS Model: Relevance

A successful eLearning course design must establish relevance in order to motivate learners. To accomplish this, eLearning professionals are encouraged to use language, analogies or stories to which the learner can relate. The following relevance strategies were suggested by Keller in the ARCS model of motivation:

  1. Link to previous experience.
    Allowing learners to establish connections of the new information presented and what they already know from previous experience, is a very successful motivational strategy because it gives learners a sense of “continuity” that keeps them motivated, as it makes them realize that they are really expanding their knowledge base. The fact that they believe that learning is successful, and not a waste of time, keeps them engaged in the eLearning course and is considered to be one of the top motivational factors.
  2. Perceived present worth.
    Adult learners usually attend an eLearning course when they actually need it, that is, when new knowledge and skills are required in order for them to be able to deal with a particular situation or problem they face in real life. They get more motivated if they see a direct connection of how the eLearning course they attend will equip them with new skills that will help them to resolve their current issues.
  3. Perceived future usefulness.
    The degree to which learners believe in how the eLearning course will help them later in their real lives is an important determinant of how much motivated will be to attend the eLearning course. So, instructional designers should communicate this message from the very beginning.
  4. Modeling.
    Set an example and offer presentations by those who may present them with a model of success. Knowing that other people have successfully applied the particular piece of knowledge or skill presented, motivates learners to perceive the eLearning course as useful and as the first step towards their personal success story.
  5. Choice.
    Giving learners choice upon their own instructional strategy is another factor that increases motivation. This occurs because of the fact that adult learners know exactly what they want to learn and how. They have preferences on specific learning methods or media that they may find more effective for them compared to others.

The ARCS Model: Confidence

Instructional designers should instill a sense of confidence in learners by helping them to believe that they can succeed. If learners feel as though they won't be able to accomplish their goals, then this will reduce their motivation. Here are some ways in which instructional designers can plan for eLearning activities that raise learners degree of confidence:

  1. Facilitate self growth.
    Encourage learners to take small steps and immediately show them their progress in the eLearning course. This will motivate them by helping them believe in themselves, fact that results in self growth.
  2. Communicate objectives and prerequisites.
    It is very important for learners to know in advance what exactly they have to achieve. Realizing that they can achieve the goals and objectives of the eLearning course is another motivating factor for them. It is also very important to know what is expected of them, throughout the eLearning course and how exactly they are going to be evaluated at the end.
  3. Provide feedback.
    Feedback is another important determinant of learners motivation. Knowing where they stand is crucial in order for learners to continue with the eLearning course. If no feedback is provided, learners feel confused as they cannot be sure about their progress in the eLearning course. Feedback, especially constructive one, is essential in order to encourage learners to proceed with confidence to the next eLearning activity or to review a previous one, making the eLearning experience even more effective. Constructive feedback may reinforce positive behaviors and skills.
  4. Give learners control.
    By providing learners with some degree of control over the learning process gives them a sense of independence and that they are in control of their own success. In other words, it makes them believe that they are responsible for their own learning. Allowing learners to choose the learning method they find more suitable, motivates them to commit to the eLearning course, as it is a strategy that actively engages them in the learning process.

The ARCS Model: Satisfaction

The last component of Keller’s ARCS Model of motivation is satisfaction. The ARCS model presents a direct link between satisfaction and level of motivation, either intrinsic or extrinsic. Learners should be proud and satisfied of what they have achieved throughout the eLearning course. Here are some strategies of how the instructional design can be adapted towards this direction:

  1. Praise or rewards.
    The learning process must present learners with some kind of reward, whether this may be a sense of accomplishment or praise from the trainer or online facilitator. They can both increase learners levels of satisfaction from the eLearning course as they will leave them with the sense of achievement and recognition of their efforts throughout the learning process.
  2. Immediate application.
    Learners should feel as though the skills or materials that they are mastering will be useful in the future. This can be achieved by encouraging learners to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in real world settings or by engaging them in real problem solving activities. This will give learners inner satisfaction as they will find worthwhile the time, money, and effort they’ve put in the eLearning course.

Keller’s ARCS Model of motivation has been successfully applied to all type of learning settings, both academic and corporate, and learners of all age groups.

Last but not least, you are more than welcome to view the following interview that Dr. John Keller, professor emeritus at Florida State University and originator of the ARCS model for motivating learners, gave to  Dr. Bernie Dodge, professor in the Department of Educational Technology at San Diego State University.

Join us at the Instructional Design History Journey

A New Instructional Design Model Will Be Added Every Week! You are more than welcome to let us know if you would like us to cover an instructional design model and theory that is not included at the Instructional Design Models and Theories. Simply leave a comment at the Instructional Design Models and Theories.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Models and Theories: The Component Display Theory

The Quintessential Of The Component Display Theory

According to the Component Display Theory (CDT) of instructional design, there are two basic dimensions instructional designers should consider with respect to learning.

  1. Type of content.
    Content consists of the facts, processes, procedures, and principles that are present in the educational environment. This is the actual concept that is meant to be relayed to the learner. Facts are key pieces of information, such as numbers, names, and events. Concepts are symbols or objects that have similar characteristics or properties which share a name. Procedures are a series of steps that can be used to solve the problem, while principles explain why something occurs as it does.
  2. Performance.
    Performance can be perceived as using, remembering or finding a particular concept. In the case of “remembering”, learners are encouraged to remember a specific piece of data that they have committed to memory. With “using”, the learners are asked to apply the information they've collected from their memory to a particular scenario or problem. “Finding” involves that learners are actually using the information to arrive at a new concept, idea or principle.

The Component Display Theory maintains that these two dimensions can be visualized in a single matrix and that instructional designers should fill in each one of the cells of this matrix with the respective primary and secondary presentation forms depending on the eLearning content. The primary presentation forms are related to course components such as rules, examples, information recall and practice, and they can be presented by using either explanatory or inquisitory learning strategies, though the secondary presentation forms are related to prerequisites, objectives, help, feedback and mnemonics.

component-displayIn order for instructional designers to maximize the effectiveness of their instructional design, taking into account both the type of content they want to present and learners expected performance, they should employ all primary and secondary presentation forms for the particular matrix cell. The Component Display Theory suggests that this combination would yield the best possible results with respect to learning effectiveness.

Benefits Of The Component Display Theory For Instructional Design

There are a number of different applications of the Component Display Theory in an educational setting. It sets forth a set of presentation forms that are effective in instructing virtually any learning type. The matrix may serve as a blueprint that allows instructional designers to follow specific steps for maximizing the effectiveness of their eLearning courses.

In addition, another key aspect of the Component Display Theory is that it suggests that it is possible for instructional designers to provide learners with full control of their own instruction, by letting them adapt content, instructional strategy, as well as the number of practice items they will receive. In other words, an eLearning design based on the Component Display Theory could possibly allow instructional designers to create eLearning experiences that would enable learners to individualize their lesson and custom tailor the instructional design to meet their personal needs and preferences. This is a great step towards a really adaptive eLearning course.

Last but not least, I highly encourage you to view the following brief introduction to Dr. Merrill's thoughts about instructional design.

Join us at the Instructional Design History Journey

A New Instructional Design Model Will Be Added Every Week! You are more than welcome to let us know if you would like us to cover an instructional design model and theory that is not included at the Instructional Design Models and Theories. Simply leave a comment at the Instructional Design Models and Theories.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Learner Engagement: How To Create Effective Assessment Strategies

How To Create Effective Assessment Strategies

In this article, I will share the learning strategy used by us for the “Creating Effective Assessments” course for our Instructional Designers. I will provide tips on how we can use a master scenario to drive the entire course and how we can highlight each learning aspect through a series of questions/answers and discussions.


As we know, every eLearning course includes Formative and Summative Assessments. Are there any principles that we need to adhere to while creating Assessments? Are these merely questions that evaluate the learning outcomes? How can we use the theoretical frameworks to develop effective Assessment strategies?

These are some of the questions that every Instructional Designer faces and the course addresses them in an interesting Q&A format through a simple narrative. This course was initially designed as an internal training material for our Instructional Design team. Earlier this year, we converted this into a product; our ProductLine InSight Suite that has 15 online courses for Instructional Designers. Each course featured in our ProductLine has a distinct learning strategy and is a case study for Instructional Designers on how to create an immersive learning experience.

Learning mandate

The course mandate was to outline strategies to create effective Assessments and highlight the theoretical frameworks with a focus on how they can be applied practically (through an Assessment Map).

Instructional strategy

The course strives to provide the answer to “How to create effective Assessments?” in a Q&A format (rather appropriate given the subject) through two Instructional Designers.

Cast of characters

We identified the following cast for our narrative:

  1. Tim
  2. Brenda

Tim and Brenda are Instructional Designers and they discuss their observations, questions, and tips on how to create effective assessment strategies. Their discussion and questions form a cohesive and connecting thread for the course.

While both are Instructional Designers and colleagues, they have a slightly different view on each learning element in the course. We have used the difference in their viewpoints to create a forum to:

  1. Question a given perspective or assumption.
    Question a given perspective or assumption.
  2. Discuss theoretical frameworks and how they can be used.
    Discuss theoretical frameworks and how they can be used.
  3. Deep-dive (focus on what, why, and how).
    Deep-dive (focus on what, why, and how).
  4. Evaluate strategies.
    Evaluate strategies.
  5. Introduce a new learning aid (Assessment Map) and the value it brings in.
    Introduce a new learning aid (Assessment Map) and the value it brings in.

Our solution

Using characters that the learners can relate to enables them to imbibe information comfortably and also helps them get the context to map it to their work. The characters pose appropriate questions and engage in discussions/conversations.

This approach can be used in other courses to:

  • “Inform” or “introduce” a concept in a screen
  • “Summarize” the takeaways of the concept/idea that is presented
  • Provide a walk-through on the key learning areas (process, procedure, and so on)
  • Provide interactive exercises/pause and think questions


Through the use of two primary characters (Tim and Brenda), the course is able to logically chunk and provide information about:

  • Assessments and their types
  • Tips and guidelines for creating effective questions
  • How to provide suitable feedback
  • Theoretical Assessment frameworks and how they can be used practically
  • A useful learning aid (Assessment Map) that can help Instructional Designers practically apply the learning at work

The characters raise and debate on questions that any Instructional Designer would face in a real-world setting, thereby providing “answers” to queries on how to write effective assessments for an actual course.

I hope you found our approach useful and will be able to use it to engage your learners. I look forward to your feedback.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

2015 Instructional Design Trends Compass: Calling IDs to Action

How to Put Instructional Design Trends to Action

Like most years, 2014 ended with articles about the latest trends in instructional design, e-learning, and training and development. Often these articles describe technology trends by highlighting the “cool” factor to which we should be paying attention. These pieces are important—we need to remain in touch with trends and issues in our field. But perhaps what’s even more important is that we determine how to implement these trends (or decide whether we should). Cool technology is one thing, but what does it mean for instructional design practices?

With support from my colleagues Clare Dygert (senior instructional designer at SweetRush) and Catherine Davis (SweetRush’s instructional design practice lead), I present to you the 2015 Instructional Design Trends Compass. This article will help you identify some of the hot topics and trends and help you navigate the landscape by pointing you in the direction of resources to assist you with putting them into practice. As we like to say in instructional design: it’s great that you know something, but what can you do with this knowledge?

Science of Learning

Brain science is an important and evolving field and is having an impact on instructional design trends. While it’s not important that we understand the inner workings of the brain the way neuroscientists do (although it wouldn’t hurt if we did), our designs are improved when we consider the science behind how people learn. This goes beyond learning preferences and “styles.” There are a few brain-related concepts we should keep in mind as we design instruction.

How should Instructional Designers implement this trend in 2015?

  • Consider the brain’s limits. Cognitive load theory asserts that learners can only process a limited amount of information coming into working memory from their input channels (eyes and ears) at once. We IDs can maximize the effectiveness of our learning by using schemas learners may already have in place, or by helping them to create new mental models. To simplify, you can think of schemas as prior knowledge, which is a primary consideration when teaching adult learners. Read more about cognitive load theory from Clare Dygert.
  • Remember, in your analysis, to get an idea of what the learners should already know prior to the training. Adult learners prefer to share what they already know, and they are aware of what they know via metacognition. Acknowledge what learners know, respect it, and then design in a way that allows them to tap into it.
  • Elicit emotion. Involving emotions throughout a learning experience makes it more likely that it will move from working (short-term) memory to be stored in long-term memory. Storytelling is one approach for attaching learning to emotions. Check out this two-part series about Storytelling for Complex Simulations from my colleague Cindy McCabe.
  • Learn more about cognitive load in this cool infographic, as well as in this article by Connie Malamed, The eLearning Coach.

Virtual Workplaces, Social Learning, and Team Cognition

Whereas metacognition means how people think about their own cognitive processes, team cognition is how a group of people, typically working together toward a shared goal, think about what they know and how they know it.

Team cognition has long been an important area of research and study for people working as first responders and in high-stakes medical settings like emergency rooms. But as work teams become increasingly virtual, it’s important to be aware of team cognition as it relates to the performance of workers in various industries. Social learning is one key approach to enhance team cognition in the virtual environment.

What do these instructional design trends mean for IDs in 2015?

  • Develop learning that helps virtual teams build and/or experience shared mental models, leading to greater workplace awareness. This in turn helps teams respond to changing conditions with greater agility.
  • Incorporate social learning into your designs, especially for internal training purposes. Create opportunities for sharing, collaborating, and connecting through experiences.
  • Use social learning in team training to help increase workplace awareness skills, which is what members of great teams do almost unconsciously in order to be able to jump in and help a teammate in need. This is more difficult to achieve when teams are totally or partially virtual.
  • Don’t force it. Keep in mind social learning occurs informally.
  • Beware of security-related limitations. Many workplaces do not allow the use of social media platforms. Remember, you don’t have to use social networking to achieve social learning. Just find creative ways to incorporate or encourage social learning and team cognition.
  • Learn more about how our clients are incorporating social learning by checking out “Social Learning: Connecting through Shared Experiences” by Kerri Simmons, SweetRush’s director of solution architecture.

Competency-based Education

Increasingly, employers are demanding that recent graduates be able to prove their claims of skills and capabilities; otherwise, they end up dealing with college-educated employees who fall short when it comes to practical skills and knowledge.

Students, faced with higher education costs and the demands of employers, are also insisting that their educations result in measurable skills and capabilities. And, increasingly, employers need proof that there will be a return on their investment in employee training.

A competency-based program begins with identification of desired competencies (similar to qualifications on a job description, but more measurable) and then training is designed in a way that would teach and assess those competencies.

What does this trend mean for IDs?

  • Conduct a thorough needs assessment and needs analysis. Be prepared to put on your consultant hat. Ask questions to dig into what your client defines as competencies or help them understand what defines a competency.
  • Do your homework on designing competencies and related training and how they comprise a competency-based program. There are a number of resources to learn more. Get started with "Competency-Based Training Basics" available on the ATD website.

Big Data

It’s a buzz word for sure, but it’s real. Although many IDs have not been involved with numbers and reports, the reality is that technology-enabled data analysis is important and we need to be aware of what kinds of data our clients are seeking, and what kinds of data clients have that can inform instructional design. For example, clients may have evaluation data from programs similar to the one you've been asked to update. There is an increasing desire for more data and different kinds of reporting for learning products, and all of us in Learning & Development need to keep up with this trend.

What actions should IDs take regarding big data?

  • Learn how big data comes into play in analysis and evaluation.
  • Begin with the end in mind. Include some questions in your analysis about data and reports. If you know what data your client is collecting, you can design the courseware with that in mind. SweetRush’s Jo Coulson, a.k.a. Dear Jo, writes about this topic in “Corporate Training Program Evaluation Should Be a Habit.”
  • Study data and reports, if you are privy to them, to determine how your design is working. This can inform future designs.
  • Keep a pulse on xAPI (also known as Tin Can API or Experience API) and related new LMS features, as this knowledge will allow us to draw better conclusions about levels of engagement and where we might need to make adjustments.

Personalized Learning

The ultimate in learner centrism! Learning can be personalized in a number of ways—from things like a personalized certificate upon completion to an entirely adaptive experience that adjusts as learners take the course.

What does this 2015 instructional design trend mean for IDs?

  • Get on board now. Ultimately, we think that personalized learning will be the preferred/best practice in instructional design going forward.
  • Consider the way that websites like Amazon generate a personalized experience for users. Personalized experiences are becoming the norm, and learning design should follow suit.
  • Consider adaptive engines and approaches. There are several definitions and approaches, but, in a nutshell, adaptive learning means there is software in place that adjusts to the learner’s progress and presents content as needed. Here is a white paper about adaptive learning from AECT, and here are some examples of it in practice.
  • Imagine learning environments that change or adapt in real time to learners’ inputs or location. Augmented learning is where virtual reality of the 1990s meets the 21st century—for example, incorporation of learning activities based on GPS coordinates. Imagine connecting these kinds of activities to Experience API (xAPI), which is another hot topic in 2015!

Nano Learning vs. Mini E-learning

As learning becomes more mobile, it will become increasingly important that we design for it accordingly. Too often we take e-learning designed for big screens and make it into an app or make it responsive and call it a mobile strategy. Mobile learning should be bite size or, as some call it, nano learning.

How should IDs approach this trend in 2015?

  • Keep it short and simple. Recognize how learners interact with courseware differently when they are on the go. Imagine you have their morning commute on the bus or subway to teach them something ... because that’s all the time they can give you in one sitting.
  • Ask clients the right questions to understand what they mean when they request “m-learning.” Catherine Davis highlights some of these key questions in her piece “M-learning: Is it Right for Your Organization?”
  • Check out this article about nano learning written by Kerri Simmons: “10 Things You Should Know About Nano Learning: Less Is More.”

Gamification and Flow

Gamification offers tremendous opportunity for our industry. To keep up, IDs need to become more adept in this area and develop the skills to think like game designers, which requires different skills than e-learning.

Your clients may latch onto this approach, because it sounds cool and fun. On the contrary, you may encounter clients and/or managers who do not see the value in a gamified approach or storytelling. “We don’t want people playing games. We need to have them performing their jobs efficiently. Don’t waste their time or my money!” As an ID, it’s important to be able to determine where, when, and for whom gamification is appropriate.

How should IDs approach the gamification trend this year?

  • Familiarize yourself with how to implement a gamified design and approach. A great place to start is with Karl Kapp. “Two Types of Gamification” is a good introduction; for a deeper dive, read his books.
  • Play games. One way to ramp up on game design is to play games. Get them from an app store or watch children play them to see how they interact with the elements within them (this is my favorite thing to do).
  • Remember to consider whether your audience will be receptive to this approach to learning. Like most approaches, this one is not a one-size-fits-all.
  • Learn more about flow, motivation, and gamification. Flow, a term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is that feeling of complete engagement that comes when we are totally engaged in play. Csikszentmihalyi asserts that flow can be controlled and doesn’t have to be left to chance. Game elements that are effective are so because they initiate flow. This article from Learning Solutions Magazine: “How to Engage Learners with Scenario-b Based Learning” is helpful.
  • Check out this piece about the “Top 10 Competencies of a Gamified Learning Designer” and this one about “4 Effective Gamification Strategies for Corporate Training.”

2015 Instructional Design Trends: Sharpen the Saw

It will be interesting to see how these instructional design trends will emerge and develop over the course of 2015. Articles and books will give us fresh ideas, and clients and projects will give us the opportunity to get hands-on. These trends will mature and show their value as we discover the audiences and environments in which they can thrive.

Most industries are changing rapidly, and the changes can seem daunting. However, one of Stephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits, “Sharpen the Saw,” encourages us to create a program of self-renewal, including learning and researching for mental growth. It’s a timely reminder as we start the new year and think about what we hope to accomplish.

We are fortunate to be IDs with the tools and stamina to research, learn, change, and incorporate best practices to make our work more effective. I hope that prospect seems less daunting for you now with this examination of the trends, and this “compass” has pointed you in the right direction and encouraged you to challenge yourself to learn more.

Read more about the latest instructional design and e-learning trends at SweetRush's blog.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.