Gagne in his book The Conditions of Learning (1965) identified the mental conditions for learning. He argued that information processing and learning occur when we are presented with various stimuli. Addressing the conditions of learning he created a nine-step process called the events of instruction:
Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction
- Gain attention
- Inform learners of the objectives/direction
- Stimulate recall of prior learning
- Present the content
- Provide “learning guidance”
- Elicit performance (practise)
- Provide feedback
- Assess performance
- Enhance retention and transfer to the job
9 events on instruction in action
Here is how I approached my learning design and how I applied the 9 Gagne principles
- Gain attention – I use of animation, audio, graphics, etc. make this an easy task (especially if you compare this to the existing long text-only training documents. I tried to link this with the content to and when possible there is a visually attractive video or presentation available.
- Inform learners of the objectives/direction – I included the course overview and learning objectives texts and videos to let learners know, know what they are going to lear. I was trying to start each lesson with an overview of the objectives. They are usually not like in the design plan but phrased in a more ‘casual’ way.
- Stimulate recall of prior learning – first of all; I allow learners to navigate through the lessons freely and to pick and choose the content they need. I added an exercise(s) that would hopefully assist learners to associate the subject with concepts they are already familiar with or link the activity to prior experience or knowledge (e.g. interactive quizzes). Finally, I would love if there was a space for self-reflection – I would like to have it incorporated into the course, but I haven’t figured the technical aspect of it. My idea would be to have the self-reflection recorded in some way and either kept private or use during the follow-up sessions with subject matter experts.
- Present the content– Surveys and interviews revealed that the overall perception of current training materials is ‘dull’, ‘boring’, ‘text-heavy’ so I aimed to take the existing content and turn it into something more engaging and keep it interactive. I used interactive presentations, videos, animations and where possible I used interactive quizzes to allow practice and application of the new skill or knowledge. One thing I haven’t managed to do and I think it would be hugely effective learning tool is using a character and story to deliver the content (gamified branching scenarios). Many processes have a number of possible scenarios(what we do if? what happens if an error is made? etc.). This would be much closer to the actual work context and would add the ‘fun’ element to learning’.
- Provide learning guidance – I tried to be clear giving instructions to the learners, but this needs to be further reviewed when the pilot is launched. I thought about creating a way for the learners to post questions or to look for clarification through the course. There is an FAQ plugging installed. I have only a basic version where users can search through the FAQ database. The full version would allow learners to post questions and answer them as well (so there would be a collaborative element), organise FAQs in categories etc. There is also an assumption that each learner has a training-buddy assigned (an instructor, colleague or a supervisor) who can provide immediate guidance via phone, e-mail or in person. There are also some follow-up sessions incorporated into the course that is more formal and focussed on reviewing progress to date (this could be combined with and added to the performance review records).
- Elicit performance – I wanted to give learners an opportunity to confirm their understanding of the content and a chance to practice skills and knowledge. I would like to use interactive quizzes or simulations to provide an opportunity for the learner to apply the learned knowledge or expertise. An example is an interactive drag and drops academic structure quiz where the learner is asked to complete the structure, and towards the end, feedback and guidance are provided. I would love the option for learners to have the gamified tests using branching scenarios – this would help to apply knowledge and try to assess the consequences of decisions in the safe environment. This also increases the likelihood of retaining information.
- Provide Feedback – Where suitable I included quizzes – on completion learners are advises what was done correctly, what must be improved, and explanations are added. There are also some follow-up sessions incorporated into the course that is more formal, focused on discussion and could be used to provide formative feedback.
- Assess performance – With a few exceptions, I include an assessment at the end of each lesson, with the feedback for both correct and incorrect answers. For correct answers, I provide some additional relevant information, which may boost retention. And for wrong answers, there is the feedback that on why their answer is incorrect and, what the correct answer is and why. Although this is the eighth event, I always make it the last event in my lessons.
- Enhance retention and transfer (closure) – This section has been somehow incorporated into other parts or skipped (due to the time limitations). The course is a pilot, and I realise that to make it a complete and valuable learning resource I would need to readdress certain issues – this would be one of them. I would like to highlight and review the essential elements of the content and confirm if the objectives were met and discuss how this new knowledge or skill will be used in the workplace.
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