Learning cycle refers to the process of how people learn from experience. There are four stages in it. To design eLearning courses that yield better results, instructional designers (IDs) need to have good knowledge of the learning cycle.
Review is the first phase of the learning cycle. This phase sets the context and helps the learners’ bridge prior knowledge with new knowledge.
In eLearning, the learning process begins with setting the context. It’s important to start the course in such a way that it grabs the attention of the learner. This phase includes learning objectives. If we inform the learners, prior to the course, what they will be able to do after completing the course, it motivates them. So start the course by setting effective learning objectives.
This phase answers the question “Why?”
In learning cycle, the Information Transfer or Knowledge Acquisition is the second phase. In this phase the core content may be based on concepts, procedures, processes, or principles. In learning cycle this the largest section because it contains all the content.
In eLearning, this phase can be addressed by presenting the content in a way that engages the learner. For example, you can present the content in the form of stories, scenarios, videos, music etc.
This phase answers the questions “What?”
Below is the screen shot of a course where we have used scenarios to train sales employees on sales skills.
In the learning cycle, application is the third phase. During this phase, learners’ develop an understanding of how to apply new knowledge and skills.
To address this phase in eLearning, we need to present the content in a way that we should make the learners’ think. For this, we can include case studies, assessments, puzzles, etc.
It answers the question “How?”
Here is a screen shot of a course were we have used a case study to make the learner think about anti-bribery rules, apply them and then answer the questions asked.
Adaptation is the most important phase for performance improvement, and this completes the learning cycle. In this phase, learners’ adapt what they had learnt in the workplace.
You can address this phase by providing job aids, handouts, PDF files and checklists that will be available to learners’ even after completing the course. Learners’ can print the content after completing the course. They serve as reference material, which help learners’ in taking decisions in their workplace and facilitate this final phase of learning.
It answers the question “Now what?”
Learning will be effective when instructional design is coupled with the phases of learning cycle.
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